* Posts by Peter Gathercole

2390 posts • joined 15 Jun 2007

'Unikernels will send us back to the DOS era' – DTrace guru Bryan Cantrill speaks out

Peter Gathercole
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Re: "Operating systems these days..." @Herbert

I quoted 80286, because it was the first Intel processor that made an attempt at privilege separation and an integrated memory management unit, even if it was only half-hearted.

I know that it was poor in relation to the later 80386 systems, but it was a major step up from the 8086/80186.

IMHO, it would have actually been better to have used the 68000 family of processors in the original IBM PC, because that family was designed with a memory management unit in the chip family right from the outset. But it was probably too expensive for IBM to consider in their original, stop-gap PC system which was never intended to spawn a whole sub-industry.

I'm not sure about the security model of OS/2. As far as I remember, there was no real multi-user concept in OS/2, although there was some memory segregation between processes and probably the kernel as well.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: "Operating systems these days..." @roy

Why is that pedantic? I was aware that Dave Cutler did all of these, and I nearly mentioned it myself. I listed UNIX and the DEC operating systems, as these were from my own experience.

I'm pretty certain that PrimeOS, MPE, VME, AOS, VOS, MTS (just a list of other time-sharing OSs that spring to mind from this era) also had this feature.

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Peter Gathercole
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"Operating systems these days..."

Really? These days?

Real operating systems have had a user/kernel split for 40 years or more.

It was a fundamental feature of UNIX since Version/Edition 6 (my earliest experience, possibly longer), and in other OSs like DEC RSX-11 and VAX/VMS, and probably a host of other OSs from the same era.

Even in the Microsoft world, Windows/NT must be 20 years old at least.

DOS was a retrograde step that should have been strangled as soon as the 80286 became the dominant processor, and MS should really not have compromised on the initial security design of NT.

What would have been even better would have been a desktop UNIX on a suitable architecture at a cost that suited the industry! Linux just came along too late!

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Tiny tech takes Turkish tin-rattling title

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Basis for school projects

I'll defend what I said.

To hook kids at school, you need to have something that shows results with very little effort on their part. The effect of a program that could draw coloured rectangles or fill the screen with lines, or make sound easily from something that that a kid could walk up to, copy half a dozen lines from memory or a sheet of paper, and then run immediately was a critical feature of the success of early personal computers. It was the immediacy that was the hook.

It's much more difficult if you have to tell kids that they have to edit text in a file, learn a complicated syntax of a language like Python, Java or C, and then take them through the process of compiling the code and making it runnable.

The complications of even the simplest IDE for a compiled language will turn of so many kids immediately, with no hope of rescuing them.

I was working in education in the 1980's and I observed this over and over again as soon as kids were introduced to teaching languages like Pascal. The standard complaint was "why is it so difficult, when I can just type it and run on my Spectrum/VIC 20/Commodore 64/BBC Micro", and that was without the current exceptionally short attention span of kids today.

Once you've hooked them, you can move on to proper languages.

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Peter Gathercole
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Basis for school projects

This would really be a good investment for schools wanting to really allow their students to do impressive things. Probably need to work out how to attach a screen and keyboard, or maybe a serial terminal through the BlueTooth.

As long as the programming languages/IDE is up to the task. IMHO, port BBC Basic V with OSCLI interfaces to all of the hardware to give students a quick start, then provide more powerful IDEs for more serious projects!

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Watchdog says yes to BT's EE takeover deal. Shrugs. No 'significant' harm in it

Peter Gathercole
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Re: How Awful

I am an EE Fibre broadband customer. Their service is provided through BT Wholsale, as is every other ISP in my area with the possible exception of TalkTalk, who went door to door a few years ago saying that they could offer unbundled broadband free of BT Wholesale, if you can believe their poorly trained sales people

As it is, I'm going to get pretty much the same levels of availability regardless of which ISP I use. Fortunately, I've never had to use EE's broadband support. Lucky, I suppose.

Interestingly, when fibre became available in my area, I got my installation working before any of the regular BT customers, because BT insisted on an engineer visit, whereas EE just shipped the router and told me to plug it in when the ADSL stopped working. As a result, I think I was one of the first FTTC customers in my area. Was absolute bliss for the first month, with 79.99 Mb/s sync rate, until other users started coming on-stream.

Another benefit was because I was a triple play (phone, fibre broadband and mobile) customer, not only did I get discounted line rental, but I also received, out of the blue, an EETV box, so they could count me as a quad-play customer, not that I pay EE anything for any TV services. Hope they don't want it back after the merger. It's a good four tuner freeview PVR.

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Evil OpenSSH servers can steal your private login keys to other systems – patch now

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Private key on the server??? @John Robson

It's not on the server. It's cached in memory on the client to allow this roving feature, and the second vulnerability can be used by a rogue server to snaffle it from the cache.

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Peter Gathercole
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Languages other than C @Passive Smoking

At the risk of angering the anti-C lobby, it is unfortunate that trusting a language that implements things like strict bounds, type and syntax checking is not a universal panacea. You're just exporting your trust to another component that could possibly be very complex.

Consider the following potential headline:

"Devs told to patch their <vendors implementation of language of choice> development environment, recompile and re-ship all applications due to security checking bug in <vendors implementation of language of choice>'s compiler and runtime."

This becomes more complicated for users of software who may not be aware of the development environment used for the software they've purchased or otherwise procured.

Admittedly this is a bit of a contrived scenario, and there is a good chance that because of run-time linking, it may only be necessary to provide a new execution environment or run-time libraries that provide the fix, but just switching to a more strict language does not ensure that applications are guaranteed to be more secure.

At least, where the bug is in the C source code, it is sufficiently primitive that you can see the error in the source of the application, and not have to trawl your development environment.

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Death Stars are a waste of time – here's the best way to take over the galaxy

Peter Gathercole
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Re: @Feank Ly. Ships building ships - re. Ringworld

Ah. Thanks.

I keep meaning to read The Culture series. Still not got round to it.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Ships building ships

"ring-shaped Orbital habitat", aka a Ringworld.

Not completely sure whether Larry Niven originated it, but it was derived from the idea of a Dyson Sphere. There's a write-up of the idea in the back of the original book, and some clarifications of the maths in the later books. Read them.

Niven and Jerry Pournelle between them wrote innovative fiction about so many interesting ideas, like archologies, mono-molecular filaments, system-wide civilisations without effective intersteller travel, planetary occupation etc. I did not get the idea of integral trees, though.

Forward the Hindmost!

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What's going on with X.org? Desktop software body could lose domain

Peter Gathercole
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Re: No big deal, just add it to the long list of X.org fck ups

Wayland will replace X11, but contains a compatibility layer to allow X applications to still work. As a long term X user, I'm a bit skeptical myself, but I don't have enough time to investigate it, plus I mainly run Ubuntu (so Mir, if it ever appears) is what I would see.

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Windows 10: What's coming in 2016?

Peter Gathercole
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Re: What's next for Windows 10?

I think you'll find the lack of paragraphs is because of changes in the way that El. Reg. stores and formats articles between then and now. I suspect that many pages of that era won't format as they did.

I think that we're fortunate to still have access to news articles that old, even if they are difficult to read.

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After Death Star II blew: Dissecting the tech of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens

Peter Gathercole
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It's not that unlikely

If you were to look at the recently dismantled USS Enterprise (CVN 65, not NCC1701), and compared that to it's replacement, the Gerald R Ford (CVN 79), almost exactly 50 years have passed, and outwardly, the carriers looked very similar (especially after the Enterprise had it's island rebuilt). And you could compare them both to the non-nuclear Kitty-Hawk class, older still, and see significant design similarities.

There are many changes to the catapults, arresting gear, propulsion, and other equipment fit, but outwardly, they're about the same size, using a similar hull form and island arrangement, although a practiced eye will see differences. This design is due to be used for new carriers for several decades more as well. Casual observation by a lay person (i.e. a film viewer) would probably see them the same (it's amazing how often in NCIS that the pennant number of a carrier that they're supposed to be on changes in a single show, and there's no outcry. Probably even more true on JAG).

Major warships are now built to last decades. There's no reason to believe that spaceships will be any different.

And you also have to realise that after the Empire was taken down, there would be a significant period of chaos, where major programmes like warship building would probably be put on hold.

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Windows XP spotted on Royal Navy's spanking new aircraft carrier

Peter Gathercole
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Re: how is this news? @GBE

The picture on the VT220 would have to have been ASCII art, as the VT220 was a mono text only terminal, although it had box draw characters and other ANSI 'Advanced' video features.

The VT240 was a ReGIS capable greyscale graphics terminal. The VT241 was colour, although it would look crude against even a VGA PC monitor now.

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Cheque, mate? Barclays Bank borked as website, apps take cheeky siesta

Peter Gathercole
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Good luck with finding a shop that will accept cheques nowadays!

Some shops may put debit or credit cards through the old paper system using a card-swipe, but probably not if it won't go through the electronic system but other cards do.

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And the reasons for buying new IT gear are as follows ...

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Three year refresh cycle

Well, if they're really 20+ years old, then they must be Micro-channel machines, and must be running AIX 5.1 or older. If this is the case, then they've also been out of software support for something like 8 years.

A bank risks it's banking license by using machines out of software support, although I believe that the wording about applying software patches is "Must have all applicable software patches installed". I've heard some people say that they've installed all patches that are available for the level of AIX they're using, so meet the requirement, although I'm not sure whether the auditors would really agree.

I also think that the kernel devs and major Power Linux distros have dropped support for Micro-channel machines.

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Remember Windows 1.0? It's been 30 years (and you're officially old)

Peter Gathercole
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Re: xfce4 theme @keithpeter

Not only a silver surfer, but reluctant to upgrade as well!

Arthur only appeared on the earliest BBC Archimedes (before they were branded Acorn). I'm pretty certain it was known as RISC OS after the first OS upgrade (What would have been Arthur 2 became RISC OS 2, possibly because of a trademark conflict with a Dudley Moore film), and on all machines after the A300 and A400 series.

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Linus Torvalds fires off angry 'compiler-masturbation' rant

Peter Gathercole
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Boffin

Re: you make ken and dmr sad

Whilst I completely agree with your sentiment, you have to realise that the last UNIX kernel worked on by those luminaries was tiny compared to the current Linux kernel. It did not even have a huge amount of networking code in it.

After UNIX Version/Edition 8, They moved on to Plan 9, which was written in a completely different way (much more like a micro kernel), and left UNIX in the hands of the UNIX Systems Division in AT&T.

It was written in a very portable way, but even the kernel itself from USD was intended to be compiled by UNIX's own Portable C Compiler. Back in the day, it caused more problems and fragmentation for vendors doing their own ports using their own compilers than anything else! It was only after the standardisation attempts of SVR4 and OSF/1 in the late '80s and '90s that the vendor kernel code bases started converging again.

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Bacon can kill: Official

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Call me Mr Thickie but....

Bacon is 'cured'. This is what makes it different from, say, thinly sliced pork belly slices.

There are several different ways of curing, including packing with salt, soaking in brine and smoking.

Originally, the idea was to preserve the meat so that it could be stored and eaten later. More recently, the food industry chemically treats pork in a way that doesn't actually preserve the meat (proper bacon should last for months without refrigeration), but makes it taste a little like traditional bacon.

It is quite possible that the modern way of making bacon counts as 'processing'. Whether the traditional methods count as well is something I would like to know.

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Caption this: WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

Peter Gathercole
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Despite having invented wall-mounted flat screen television, and having a prototype three-colour projector on the bench and a revolutionary overhead projector discarded on the floor, Kirk though that the automatic shirt spot-cleaner was the product he wanted to develop.

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Ireland moves to scrap 1 and 2 cent coins

Peter Gathercole
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How does this work?

In theory, someone from elsewhere in Europe that still uses 1 and 2c coins will still be able to rock up in Ireland, and pay with 1 and 2c coins, even if the price is rounded. The shops will still have to honour them, and the banks will still have to handle them (and probably repatriate them to countries that still use them).

Extending from this, what happens if something is 0.95 euros, and the person purchasing only has 0.90 in 'sliver' and three 2c coins? Who will lose out on 1c?

I would not have though that a country can unilaterally invalidate part of a common currency.

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Amazon Echo: We put Jeff Bezos' always-on microphone-speaker in a Reg family home

Peter Gathercole
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Re: by definition! @Doctor_Wibble

What I would like is to have some of these services provided locally without involving the cloud.

I was shown a demonstration of voice recognition using dedicated fourier transform hardware attached to a BBC micro in about 1984. I was shown a purely software voice recognition on an IBM PS/2 model 80 with a 25MHz 386 and 4MB of memory and 80MB hard disk in 1990.

We're now 25 years later, and the computing power and storage capability in our smart phone or TV is vastly more than what I've seen work, so I believe that natural language recognition can be done locally. Give me an app that will read my local address book, calendar and other information stored on the phone, and let me choose when to get it to use remote services purely as information sources, and I might consider using it.

Before the cloud, I remember SciFi writers talking about portable devices with AI in them. This is what I want, not some cloud overlord analysing my every move. My personal AI should work for me, not against or in spite of me.

Of course it won't happen, because we are not being given what we want, but are being offered seemingly attractive carrots so that we can be treated as the product as we sign up to be profiled, advertised and sold to.

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Lies from VW: 'Our staff acted criminally but board didn't know'

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Dieselgate

But the point is that these cars, when tested under the European testing, will not trip the US test defeat conditions - I understand they're quite specific, because they don't need to. So when they are tested, they are almost certainly not in the reduced emission mode.

If they then pass the EU tests, then you could not sue the manufacturer for non-compliance or being 'too dirty'.

If you're complaining that the EU thresholds for certain pollutants are too high, then that's not something that the manufacturer is responsible for, and you'd have to sue either the UK government or the EU, which is a completely different proposition.

What you could sue the manufacturer for is if any of the stated specifications, like the mileage figures or the amount of pollutants emitted differed from their published specifications at the time that the vehicle was purchased, at which point you could in theory sue either under the trade descriptions act or under advertising standards laws, but I think that you'd have to prove that there is a significant difference, because everybody knows that lab condition tests are nothing like driving on the open road.

Of course, if you're really taking a stand against diesel as a whole, then you could lobby to get all diesels banned, but that would have such serious knock-on effects for commercial and public transport, shipping, and even mobile and backup electricity generation that you'd be backing a losing horse. Diesel is so engrained in our way of life that you really cannot get rid of it, at least not without a decades long program.

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WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

Peter Gathercole
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The problem if being Omnipotent is that there is just so much to know. Maybe MapReduce will help!

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Peter Gathercole
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There's this Brian guy following me around.

I know, I'll Google him, and see what this is all about.

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Peter Gathercole
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I came all this way to find the meerkat, and it appears the bloody snake actually did manage to get it!

(see my suggestions in caption comp. #2)

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Peter Gathercole
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Rocks, yes. Tanks, of course. Flying saucers, OK. Smart Missiles, well if you have to. Religious manifestations? WTF?

This was not what I expected to see in the middle of the reboot of BattleZone

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Peter Gathercole
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So now we know where Mike Oldfield put the Easter Egg of himself in MusicVR

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Peter Gathercole
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Being a hermit was just so much more difficult since Twitter and Facebook were invented

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VW: Just the tip of the pollution iceberg. Who's to blame? Hippies

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Well DUH!

From what I've read, the modern lean-burn petrol engines (especially those being created for Euro 6 emission levels) also burn hot, and produce more oxides of nitrogen, so it's not just diesels, it's pretty much all modern cars that are at fault.

Diesels are just in the firing line at the moment, because they promised less emissions.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Thanks a lot, hippies.

Lewis is not saying that hippies drive diesels. What he's saying is that Greenpeace (who have jokingly described themselves as hippies) policy and lobbying have created situation where C02 is seen as a serious problem that needs to be solved, without taking the relevant care to make sure that suppressing the CO2 does not create worse problems.

Mind you, we have to be a bit careful in case the hair-shirt brigade, who want us to have personal energy footprints not seen since the middle-ages, come to the fore.

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Happy birthday to you, the ruling was true, no charge for this headline, 'coz the copyright's screwed

Peter Gathercole
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@James

I must admit that I don't understand the legalities, but from what I think I understand, under US law, copyright for published works commences when a work is first published. This would make the melody for both versions start in 1893, when it was included in "Song Stories for the Kindergarten".

This is where I'm a bit confused, because according to Cornell University, this is a work first published before 1923, so should have been in the public domain long since.

The pdf of the judgement suggests that the copyright was actually extended until 1949, which is where this date comes from. So one way or another the melody should have been out of copyright before Warner/Chappell asserted ownership.

Unless I completely misunderstand US copyright law, you cannot extend copyright by registering a new copyright claim on an already copyrighted work. As far as I can tell, what was registered in 1935 was a copyright to a song with the happy birthday lyrics and the good morning melody. But this would not have extended the copyright of the melody in isolation, so once it's copyright expired in 1949, the melody was out of copyright, and Summy Co. or it's successors would not have been able to assert any claim on the melody except in conjunction with the Happy Birthday lyrics.

This is what I was trying to say.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Copyright theft @Dr Syntax

In this case, as it may still be a copyrightable work, the judge could order the money to be held in escrow pending someone else stating a claim.

Roll on the search by literary historians and lawyers.

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Peter Gathercole
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@James

I think that your point is covered by "The copyright of Good Morning expired in 1949".

From what I read, Warner/Chappell can still claim copyright for some specific imprint, meaning that it is a copyright violation to photocopy or perform from the copies that they published, in the same way that you can have copyright over an imprint of the sheet music for, say, Beethoven's Ode to Joy without claiming any ownership of the music itself. What the legislation states in these cases is that it is the format and annotations of the printed work that is copyright, not the tune itself.

So it would be perfectly legal to take a copy of the out-of-copyright original song "Good Morning", and re-typeset and publish it, and prevent someone from photocopying your imprint, but you would not be able to prevent them working from the same copy you used to produce your publication.

In this case, as far as I can see, Warner/Chappell were claiming literary copyright of the words to "Happy Birthday" as a literary text, and trying to assert ownership. The words may still be copyrightable, but the judge decided that Warner/Chappell did not own that copyright. As such, it will become an "Orphan Work" unless someone else states a claim.

There are various sites (like The Choral Public Domain Library) that exist as repositories for works in the public domain being re-typeset from old copies, and published under an open license for the benefit of the community as a whole. It works a bit like Project Gutenberg for choral music, although it relies on it's users for content.

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Revealed: Why Amazon, Netflix, Tinder, Airbnb and co plunged offline

Peter Gathercole
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@Lost all faith

Like AT&T in 1990, when a cascade failure took out long-distance telephony in the US, maybe?

But those types of failure in telephony occurred maybe once a decade, and generally triggered reviews and remedial work to make sure that the same problem never happened again. Cloud failures seem to be much more frequent than that, and don't appear to have the rigorous response.

Maybe all cloud providers should learn to walk before they attempt to run!

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Alcatel Idol 3: Holding its own with a pretty decent 5.5 inches

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Stick your 5.5"..

I must admit I tend to agree. Why they have to make the smaller variant less powerful (and it is not just Alcatel that do this, look across the board at other big names like LG, Samsung and Sony). | suspect it's probably because of less space for the battery.

I don't want a 5.5" phone, but I do want the performance. And that appears to be a combination I can't have.

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You want the poor to have more money? Well, doh! Splash the cash

Peter Gathercole
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Re: The child sized elephant in the room @Richard 12

No, we really don't need an average family size below 2. One-for-one replacement in the global population as a whole, yes, but...

Because of lifestyle choices and mortality, if you're talking about the average 'family' - defining a family as a social unit that includes kids, which would exclude people living on their own or couples not having children, the average family size needs to be between 2.3 and 2.4 children in the UK to achieve a stable population. In other countries with higher mortality rates, it could be higher.

The current plan to eliminate child benefit in the UK beyond 2 children will actually detrimentally affect the demographics of the country, IMHO.

<contentious><generalised>The financially responsible families, who are most likely to have children who grow up to be like them will be choose to keep their family to two children (or if they're real do-gooders, to just one child). The families who have a have children now and worry about how they're going to raise them later mindset will not really care, and will still expect state support. Kids tend to grow up like their parents</generalised></contentious>.

The effect on the population could result in the rise of a new 'chav' generation, skewing the population towards under achievers, hangers on and people with an expectation that the state will take care of them. Exactly what is not required.

I know that I'm generalising, but in general most developed countries have a population stability problem, with some countries like Japan actually having a declining population some time back.

What the world really needs is sensible population control policies, together with education to back up these policies, targeted at all countries, especially those with the highest population increase. It won't happen, as the UN charter actively prevents one country from interfering in another countries internal affairs, and the countries that most need the control are the ones least likely to implement or accept it.

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Microsoft has developed its own Linux. Repeat. Microsoft has developed its own Linux

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Tools for the Job @BeachBoy

As I can't now edit my last post, I'll post a correction. AT&T did, of course, exist earlier than UNIX as the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, and Bell Labs. were their research arm. I was just confused by what happened to the various bits of AT&T, and the 'Baby Bells' after the divestiture of AT&T Corp. I thought something did not look right when I was writing it.

What was set up later was AT&T Inc, formed when Southwestern Bell started to re-integrate the bits that were forced to be split earlier, eventually buying AT&T Corp. itself. It was all very incestuous.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Tools for the Job @BeachBoy

No. It was originally designed at Bell Laboratories (before AT&T existed as an entity) as an OS demonstration (developed almost as a side-of-the-desk project) that a usable OS could be built with some of the Multics ideas by some people disenfranchised by the Multics project itself, and became successful in Bell Labs as a text formatting system, IIRC used to prepare patent applications (they used this as the justification to buy the first PDP 11).

It spread rapidly inside Bell Labs and AT&T, and was used very extensively to provide general purpose time sharing systems for use within AT&T. At the same time, it was made available to Universities (including UCB) for the cost of the media and shipping.

It later was used, in a quite highly modified form (UNIX-RTR), as the OS for the File Store and Administrative modules in AT&T 1AESS, 2STP, 4ESS and 5ESS exchanges, as well as other products.

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WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

Peter Gathercole
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The quality inspector pointed out to the management that he machinists really had to stop leaving lose threads on the finished garment

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Peter Gathercole
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Although her roots matched the trim, a last minute change of the colour spoilt the effect by no longer matching the rest of her hair!

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Peter Gathercole
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"Call that bra smart? It's the ugliest piece of lingerie that I've ever seen!"

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Peter Gathercole
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Ashlee had not worked out that the web-punters were paying to see her take it off!

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Peter Gathercole
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@Andy Non

I think that should be "debounce" technology!

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Peter Gathercole
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Although she admired the technology, Madonna did not think the styling was sufficiently outrageous for her stage show.

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Peter Gathercole
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It's part of our tele-dildoncis range

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Peter Gathercole
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Miss Brahms on the telephone: "Ladies' intimate apparel...I said, Ladies' intimate apparel...oh, all right then, the knickers and knocker counter!"

(Are You Being Served, The Apartment)

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Peter Gathercole
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Never mind the quality, feel the width!

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All in all, it's just another hit in the stalls: Roger Waters The Wall

Peter Gathercole
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Re: I still remember the

isn't this where....

...we came in?

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BAN the ROBOT WHORES, says robot whore expert: 'These AREN'T BARBIES'

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Would..

The question about the Major was largely rhetorical, bearing in mind that the whole series is exploring the boundaries of what is human and what is not.

The way that in the original film, Project 2501 was trying to define itself as a artificial being, and the treatment of Proto and the Tachikomas, as well as the conclusion of GITS SAC: Solid State Society are all about the anomalous state of various entities in the franchise.

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