* Posts by Peter Gathercole

2387 posts • joined 15 Jun 2007

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

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Would..

"Gynoids" as a term has already been used in Japanese Anime. I'm sure the subject's appeared before these examples, but it's in one of the GITS SAC gigs, and also part of the theme of the "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence" film. They're definitely regarded as property in these works, although the concept of 'ghost dubbing' (duplicating a real person's mind, or ghost) into gynoids confuses the issue - especially when they start killing their owners or clients, but that's the point of the story, blurring the boundaries between AI and humans.

Is the Major still human?

Robot 'maids' have been a common plot in Japanese fiction for many years, some quite innocently, some definitely not, not that I watch or read the latter.

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World finally ready for USB-bootable OS/2

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Networking

OK, without knowing who you are, I am in the dark (is this a new incarnation of Eadon?) But neither my original post, nor (AFICT) any previous post mentioned AIX.

It is a very tenuous link saying that because OS/2 probably had a CLI for configuring networks, that AIX was a suitable comparison, merely because IBM wrote both of them. Whereas, I do comment about AIX, which makes it much less tenuous. Maybe I should have said someone who knows of me - possibly in these forums.

As far as I am aware, ifconfig does not, on any UNIX, make persistent changes to the system. What you may actually have fallen over is the fact that AIX does not even enable the interfaces by default until they are configured (they default to a down state, but can be brought up by a suitable command - cfgmgr in this case). I assure you that it is possible to bring the interfaces up to a state where you can use the standard ifconfig type tools quite easily. In fact, IBM provide a sample RC script to do it, not that anybody really uses it.

You get used to a particular system, but in my experience, moving on to a new platform has always required you to actually learn about the foibles of that platform. If you expected AIX, Tru64/Digital UNIX or HP/UX to work exactly like SunOS (showing my age), then you would be disappointed. And before I became mainly focused on AIX, I used a significant proportion of the UNIX systems out there, so I am pretty certain of this.

It was always the case that moving onto a new platform, the first thing you found was the management tool, whether it was SAM for HP/UX, sysadm for DG/UX, admintool on Solaris (before they removed it) or SMIT for AIX. Relying on ifconfig as the primary configuration tool is not wise, as different UNIXs use the arguments differently (and have significantly different syntax).

My Solaris knowledge is very rusty (havn't logged on to a Solaris box for over 10 years), but from googling a bit, to persistently configure a network interface, you need to use the oh so standard dladm command! Or edit a bunch of files.

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Peter Gathercole
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@corcoran

Who is to say that an OS is "hipster rubbish". Whilst it is true in hindsight that OS/2 was only really a niche OS run only where IBM has significant sway over their customers, Microsoft did not have the same dominant position of either the OS or office application market that they do now.

I saw OS/2 deployed in anger as a desktop OS in IBM (of course), and in banks, utility and insurance companies, so it was used. And of course, it lingered in POS and ATM systems for many years after it left the desktop.

There were other OSs that were available at the time (both larger and smaller), and you have to admit that OS/2 was a capable OS. It just did not gain the market penetration that would have been required to merit it's onward development.

I would have been much happier if there had been more than one creditable and accepted OS in the years after OS/2 fell from favour, and before Linux was developed to a sufficient extent that it could be deployed on the desktop. It would have prevented Microsoft from dominating in the way that they have over the last 20 years. But history and the markets are fickle, as the developers of Betamax, HD-DVD, and many other technologies have found out.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Networking

I was a bit strong in my "cowardly" comment, but sometimes I like to know at least the handle of the commenter. It's obviously someone who knows me, because I made no reference to AIX in my original post.

I'm not suggesting that everybody is as naked as me on these forums, and I do post anonymously when talking about anything I feel is sensitive/employer-related (and only the Register knows whether I have another handle!), but unless you make it known, a handle that can identify your posts without revealing your name is what most people do.

IMHO, AC should really be reserved for people making contentious statements for whatever reason.

I could see nothing in the AC reply to my original post that looked even remotely contentious, unless it was their criticism of AIX, and everybody who has used AIX knows about what was said (and I've criticised the ODM myself in the past, it being neither a flat editable set of files like UNIX purists want, nor a proper database).

I doubt that there is even anybody in IBM who gives a damn about such comments. All the people who made the decision about the ODM will have now left IBM (AIX 3.1 was released a staggering quarter of a century ago), and I know for certain that Robert A. Fabbio, credited as the "lead architect for the System Management Architecture" of AIX 3.1 on the RISC System/6000, and lead author of the article "System Management: An Architecture" from the IBM journal of Technology no longer works for IBM.

I'm sure that if I went through all of the authors of the articles in the original IBM RISC System/6000 Technology (SA23-2619) that was published in 1990, I would find less than a handful still employed by IBM.

Everybody gets old!

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Networking

Oh ho! someone who knows me (even though they're too cowardly to post in their own name).

But when it comes to configuring anything on proprietary UNIXs, there is/was no commonality. Sun users used to think that their way was the only way, ignoring the fact that all the other vendors, such as HP, Digital, Data General and IBM (and Sequent, Pyramid, Altos, Siemens, Nixdorf, NCR, Silicon Graphics, Intergraph...) all did it differently! People tend to forget this.

Unfortunately, the split between the major proprietary UNIX variants occurred before the general adoption of TCP/IP (and yes, I know about the relationship between TCP/IP, DARPA and BSD), but all vendors had their own source trees, and implemented support particularly for networking in different ways. As such, there were no real 'standard' ways of doing things. Especially when some TCP/IP support was 'bolted on' to another vendor's UNIX system.

The main difference with AIX was the fact that the ODM was decoupled from the so-called standard commands, so running ifconfig, route et. al. would (within the bounds of different implementations) configure the interfaces, but it would not persist across a reboot.

I think that if you wanted commonality, you would have to have settled on sysadm from the AT&T base code to really have something 'standard'. And I don't think that would have suited anybody.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Networking

I have to admit that it's nearly 15 years since I needed to do this, but I don't remember it being any more difficult than on current operating systems. Mostly point, click and type, just like any other OS, and you can bet that there was a CLI accessible to do it from a command prompt.

Of course, in those days it was all static IP addresses. Maybe the DHCP support is a bit lame.

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Don't bother buying computers for schools, says OECD report

Peter Gathercole
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Re: You don't need new computers

I dispute that it is not possible to use single-core computers for real work. But I accept that Pentium 4's and earlier systems should be retired, mainly because this processor only delivered it's promised performance on code written specially for it.

I recently stopped using a Pentium-M single core laptop as my main personal machine. It still performed fine for web browsing, media playing, word processing, spreadsheet etc under Ubuntu 14.04 with Gnome Failback. Still perfectly acceptable performance, and would run XP in VirtualBox at an acceptable speed as well.

I stopped using it because it only supported IDE disks, and the disk was failing. Tried buying a largish (100GB+) 2.5" IDE drive recently? Even second hand, one would have cost me more than the machine I replaced it with!

But there's lots of ex-corporate Core-2 Duo and i3 systems knocking around in the second-user market at very reasonable cost. The biggest problem is the supposed non-transferable Windows license, even though most of them were delivered with a license, but were immediately imaged with a corporate volume license by the purchasing company. Often, the license on the bottom of the machine was never activated!

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Vanished global warming may not return – UK Met Office

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Optimistic thread, all-in-all

Welcome back, Rik.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Burning down the house @Elmer

I read that as "snog", and I was just about to express some pity, but...

Smog, on the other hand, was largely caused by the pollution from ordinary solid-fuel electricity generation (in cities, no less) and heating and the dreadfully dirty cars and lorries, getting caught in temperature inversions, and not blowing away.

The inversions are still there, but fortunately, much of the rest is not. Gas heating and electricity generation, smokeless fuel for those that insist on solid fuel, and much tighter emissions controls on vehicles have pretty much made smogs of the type experienced in the 19th and 20th century a thing of the past. At least in most of Europe.

I think residents of Beijing may beg to differ.

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What should we do with this chunk of dead air? Ofcom wants to know

Peter Gathercole
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Re: re. Three Cows

Bullocks to you!

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Don't want to upgrade to Windows 10? You'll download it WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Behind the Curve....

If you're using a router from your ISP and have not set up a DMZ, default host or explicit port-forwarding, the chances are that the reason why Shields Up! reports your system is closed is because of the operation of NAT on the router.

Shields Up!, although a useful indicator has not really been a good test of how secure your PC is for quite some time, probably since USB broadband routers became passée.

For Windows security, you really ought to have a decent firewall installed on the PC itself, with both inbound and outbound filtering turned on. AV tools are not particularly good at so-called zero day vulnerabilities, and the fact that there are no more XP fixes means that a whole slew of already discovered problems still count in that day zero, as for XP there will be no more day zero+one regarding fixes from MS.

The sandbox is a good move for browsers, provided that it does not leak!

You will also notice over time that the AV, adblocker and anti-malware tools will become less useful for XP, as the providers get less and less interested in XP.

Really, it is not safe to use XP on the Internet, even with all of the protections you've detailed. Don't just think of your safety, try to prevent becoming part of a bot-net, because that can hurt us all. Do us a favour, work out what Windows programs you absolutely need, find out whether they run in Wine, and then complete the move to a Linux.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: "Personal" computer no more

It does not need to be made illegal.

All it takes is for some of the more prominent on-line service providers to prevent non-approved OSs from using their service "because of IP violations and security issues". I'm thinking things like the Amazon MP3 store, which for a long time allowed you to download whole albums using whatever OS platform you wanted, but withdrew that from Linux users, and now force Linux users to 'bulk' download tracks no more than six at a time through their Cloud player, while other platforms have no restriction. Why?

Now, lose access to your banking website, your on-line shopping, your web-mail (OK you could try to mask it with the User Agent setting), Government service sites, media streaming sites (through restricted proprietary codecs), and the list goes on. How many of Joe and Josephine Public will choose Linux. Any more than now? We'll still try, but it'll remain a niche for technically capable dissidents, or 'crackpots' as we will be called.

We're actually in a slightly better place at the moment for these things on Linux than we have been for some time, what with HTML 5, open codecs and browsers on Windows being in a state of transition, but I can see this changing again, and forced Windows 10 migration is a possible starting point.

Many of us have lived through the bad times with proprietary hardware drivers, websites coded to particular browsers, locked boot loaders and reverse engineering of services being prosecuted (iTunes and WebOS being an example). There's no guarantee that these things won't rear their ugly heads again in the future.

If Microsoft can force a near Windows monoculture by killing Windows XP, 7 and 8.X, they're that much closer to being able to try a new denial of service by OS restricted feature all over again. Apple users probably won't care, because Apple will find or buy a way to integrate (hell MS may actually help them to avoid anti-trust legislation, they have form in this area).

I once said that if things got to difficult in the technology world, I would become a gardener. Sadly, I think that this blight of control will become so pervasive that the only way to avoid these issues is to become a hermit. Anybody know a good retreat that I can live out the rest of my life?

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Jeremy Corbyn wins Labour leadership election

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Stance on tech?

Probably the right generation for it. Does he have an account at the Living Computer Museum?

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Curiosity Rover's OS has backdoor bug

Peter Gathercole
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"FTP server is susceptible to ring buffer overflow when accessed at a high speed"

Well, that's one vulnerability they don't have to worry about, unless it's from the Martians .

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

Peter Gathercole
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Kaa was unused to being mesmerized himself, but this website was just ssssssooooo captivating!

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Peter Gathercole
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You've been looking for a snake oil salesman. Well, here I am!

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Peter Gathercole
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"Oh My", said Ayame Sohma, "I wish those Ashley Madison photos wouldn't trigger my transformation. It's supposed to require them to touch me!"

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Peter Gathercole
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Coily waited patiently for the next reboot of Q*bert.

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Peter Gathercole
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"I'll know I can take that meerkat. I'm sure there was a picture of it round here somewhere".

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Peter Gathercole
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"If I can just get the perspective right on this screen capture of the Register home page, it'll make a good picture for the photo caption competition".

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UK.gov finally unveils new parly spook-watching panel

Peter Gathercole
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Re: @Loyal Commenter

My bad wording. What I should have said is that the AG has not said anything to in public about this. I did not presume that he had not been consulted by No. 10, just that he had not commented what his advice was to the press.

It is part of his job, and the responsibility of the government to make sure that there is sufficient legal justification for any action the government takes.

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Peter Gathercole
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@AC

I'm afraid it was a spelling mistake, although not a typo. I'm not that clever. I've always struggled with spelling (just ask my teachers, if any of them are still alive!), and I often don't notice this type of thing if a spelling checker doesn't throw it up. But the other meaning is, um, interesting.

The UK Attorney General is actually an appointment of the Crown (the post is one of providing legal advise to the Crown and their Government), although they are nominated by the incumbent government. As a result, it is theoretically possible for the Queen to object to the appointment if she sees a reason. And I'm sure she would at least question an appointment (by all accounts, she really cares and makes sure she knows relevant information) , although it will probably never be known if she's ever refused to appoint a nominee.

But generally, at least so far, they are have not been poodles, because what they say may at some point actually be examined in court and subsequent governments (past legal advice from the AG is, and must be for any continuity, available to the current Government). Of course, they're just one person, and they will have their own opinion, but one of the traits of the legal system in general is that they mostly try to retain some independence.

I would certainly trust a statement from the UK AG more than the Prime Minister or any of their cabinet ministers!

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: @Loyal Commenter

AFAIK, the Attorney General has said nothing about this. The Defence Secretary Michael Fallon gave an interview on the Today program on 8th September (it'll be on the BBC Radio Player for a few weeks more) who outlined the possible scenarios without officially confirming anything about the circumstances.

But he's a cabinet minister, and would be expected to support the action, whereas the AG (Jeremy Wright) would be expected to take a stance from a more legalistic standpoint. As he is the legal advisor to HMG for most things, what he would say would be very interesting and informative.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Confusion as usual

Please don't think that I am condoning what is being done, but the problem is that it is not actually possible to declare war on an organisation that has no recognition in International Law.

It is possible to declare war on a country or nation (see here for a definition), but neither the Taliban, nor ISIS (despite their self-styling) are either countries or nations. This means that there cannot be an official declaration of war against them.

If there is no war, the people fighting cannot be classed as legal combatants, nor once captured, can they be described as "prisoners of war". This is the reason why the "enemy combatant" was used. It's dodgy as hell and designed to be ambiguous, but once the US had decided they needed to hold these people, what else could they do other than define a new category of prisoner.

In addition, the establishment of the United Nations was meant to prevent declarations being made without international debate, but again, Taliban and ISIS are not nations, so the UN is hamstrung and impotent. If the Asad regime was in good stead with the international community, and invited help, things would be different, but taken respectively, they're not, and won't.

We're in a whole new and undefined area of conflict that is not adequately reflected in International Law. IMHO, the UN Charter needs serious revision to recognise extra-national organisations so that the position can be clarified.

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Peter Gathercole
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@dogged

The case being suggested is that the two men were recently, or possibly immanently associated with a threat in the UK, co-ordinated from Syria.

If it could be shown that killing these two people directly prevented the threat from being carried out, then this would probably be justified under both UK and International law. After all, the police are allowed to use lethal force in the UK if this can be shown, so why would an already agreed combat zone in Syria be any different.

Slightly less legitimate, if it could be shown that they were involved in a past threat, either one that succeeded or one that was stopped by the relevant LEO or intelligence bodies, and that these people were likely to do the same again and could not realistically be apprehended to stand trial, then there could just about be suitable justification.

The problem is that this is speculation, and the information that could show it was legitimate is being withheld as "secret intelligence information" that would harm future operations if it were disclosed (i.e. a "National Secret").

What could defuse this situation somewhat would be either the Attorney General or another trusted person (or even a committee) well versed in UK and International law coming forward and saying "I've seen the information, and while I cannot disclose it, it provides valid and legal reason to have taken this action".

Their opinion could still be questioned, but it would at least not be a politician making the assertion.

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Roll up, roll up: Microsoft, those Irish emails and angry Feds

Peter Gathercole
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Upvote for the reference to Moties.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: The concern will be... @Alan

If the US Government decided to go Open Source, software houses would fall over themselves to port their software to Linux, and provide support. It's a cyclic dependency that prevents organisations moving. No applications, people won't install Linux. No Linux customer base, application writers will not provide applications.

It only requires one seriously large customer to commit to Linux to break this cycle.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: The concern will be... @Velv

I seem to remember back in 2000, when the US DoJ was trying to force a split of Microsoft in two for OS and Applications, there were rumours about MS having a contingency plan to move out of the US, rather than complying with the order.

Did we not see MS laying off a number of US developers a few months back? Was this associated with additional developers being hired in other countries? Maybe MS are putting in a contingency for such a move.

Isn't starting rumours fun!

Whilst I would love to see the US Government go Open Source, it's not as simple as just installing it on the machines. A huge amount of user, desktop and server administration in large organisations absolutely relies on MS Policies and Active Directory to function. So much, that the size of most estates cannot be managed by the people employed without it.

For all that an OS like Linux is highly configurable using mechanisms like RPC, it pains me to say that this is not as slick or sophisticated as Windows. There are tools that will do something similar, but because of one of the strengths of Open Source, choice, there is no single dominant tool that can manage all Linux variants well (I know that something like Puppet will be mentioned in follow-up comments, but it's still evolving IMHO). Pretty much everything required can be done using Open Source, but not well enough to allow a like-for-like replacement in large organisations trivial. And that is even before you take into account user training.

Realistically, it would take a multi-year program, tied into the hardware replacement cycle to migrate an organisation away from Windows.

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Peter Gathercole
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The concern will be...

...that eventually, if Microsoft sticks to it's guns (which in this case I hope it does), the Justice Department will have to take action, which might include some form of raids on Microsoft's US offices to 'liberate' either the records, or the access required to try to get them.

That would trigger an almighty bun fight, possibly including an International Incident, which I'm not sure that the US Government would totally win.

Imagine, if you will, a disenfranchised Microsoft, forced to decamp outside US borders to continue operations, so pissed off with the US government that it decided to invalidate all of the Government Windows, Exchange and Office 365 licenses. Would the US Government still be able to operate? Do you think that they have an alternative? Or do people think that they would try some legal shenanigans to try to seize Microsoft assets?

Comments on a post here please. I'm interested in what other people think. Meanwhile, I'm buying a popcorn maker with enough corn to last a few years.

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Handing over emails in an Irish server to the FBI will spark a global free-for-all, warns Microsoft

Peter Gathercole
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One word

Backups.

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Well, what d'you know: Raising e-book prices doesn't raise sales

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Another plus point for ebooks for reference works

One training course I did years ago, the trainer coined the term "pgrep" to search the paper manuals by eye.

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'A word processor so simple my PA could use it': Joyce turns 30

Peter Gathercole
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@AC

But Amstrad did produce some moderately acceptable low end HiFi. As an impecunious student, I had an IC2000 amplifier and an IC3000 tuner, which although were not sophisticated, and showed wear poorly, had reasonable electronics, especially if you tweaked them a bit with larger capacitors in the power supply of the amp.

I looked at the strange, three armed TP12D turntable (it looked a bit like a Rega), but ended up with a Strathearn, because of the Ortofon cartridge that came with it.

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Peter Gathercole
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Even now, I still get..

..."Why can't you find me a word processor that works like my old Amstrad" from my Wife.

I tried her with Protext in a console session, but had to give up on that when the last simple printer gave up, and it was unable to drive any of the newer printers we had.

She really moaned when I first showed her Open Office Writer, and it was no better (in fact it was much worse because nothing stayed in the same place) when I put one of the Office 2008 home and education licenses we have on her PC (mainly because she read that self published books for the Amazon Kindle had to be written in MS Word).

She deliberately appears to adopt the memory of a goldfish whenever I try to get her to learn something on the PC. She wants everything to be presented to her on the screen, so drop-down, unchanging menus is about the only thing she can apparently cope with.

BTW. I'm not being nasty here. She agrees with my description of her.

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3l33t haxxors don't need no botnet, they just pinch passwords

Peter Gathercole
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Re: User Monitoring

All the organisations subject to Sarbanes Oxley must have full auditing for their privileged accounts, with the audit logs scrutinised by people other than the administrators themselves, preferably in a completely different management stream.

It's a little tricky to arrange, but it certainly could be done when the main admin interfaces were CLI. It could also be done for X11 sessions, by effectively inserting something like XScope in recording mode in the path.

Mind you, as someone who took a spell doing it, reading through someone else's admin session was a painful task, that you had to take frequent breaks from if you wanted to maintain your sanity.

I have no idea how it is done now with remote GUI sessions, although I'm sure that it must be being done.

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

Peter Gathercole
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I thought it was real until I got close enough to see that it was one of those damned garden ornaments from Poundland.

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Peter Gathercole
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Rocket Dog was anxious to see whether Flower would come back and reclaim leadership of the Whiskers.

(Google the names, it will become apparent what this is about)

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Peter Gathercole
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Oleg kept a close eye out in case Aleksandr or Sergei ever came back. Oh, how he'd punish them for abandoning him in the back-end of beyond, without even as much as an OLPM (One Laptop Per Meerkat!)

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Sacré bleu! Apple, Nokia, Samsung et al end their three-year sulk over 'home taping' tax

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Blank Media

My daughter told me recently that several media creation packages (she mentioned iMovie and Creative Suite/Cloud) are now removing the ability to write optical media from their most recent iterations. Many laptop/ultrabooks no longer even come with optical storage devices. It really upset her, as she has no desire to use the Cloud as a transmission path for private media she's editing for a friend.

It strikes me as if optical media is becoming a bit of a pariah. I still don't trust flash memory devices for long term storage. We need some new long-term storage media!

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Brit school claims highest paper plane launch crown

Peter Gathercole
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Re: No more Paris articles @Lester

It strikes me that it would have been quicker to set up an explosives factory and get the correct licences in Spain than chase FAA regulatory approval to allow you to import and fly a rocket powered 'drone' aircraft in US airspace, especially one that can be programmed from outside of the US.

They're probably trying to prove it's some nefarious terrorist plot.

What I'm now waiting for is for the license to be permanently declined, and the plane prevented from being exported from the US without a "dual use, foreign defence article" ITAR export license, which will be similarly denied.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: No more Paris articles

Hmmm, LOHAN.

I'm sure I remember something about that.

Oh yes. It's on my tea cup. What was it trying to do again?

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NASA finds ancient films that extend Arctic ice record by 15 years

Peter Gathercole
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You jest @chris lively

but that is part of the iterative process of developing an accurate model!

If a model doesn't indicate what actually happened, then it's not accurate. So you try to understand why it was wrong, change it so that it does agree more closely with reality, and then wait for the next discrepancy. All the time, your running it against historical data to see how accurate it is. So a slew of new data is quite useful.

What would be wrong would be to silently correct the models (or even worse, manipulate the data or start conditions), and then claim that they were accurate all along. But I don't think that this is what would happen.

If you think that anybody with serious climate credentials believes that the current climate models are complete or accurate at the moment then you're bonkers (and so are they!). We just aren't that clever.

Unfortunately, a lot of the people taking note of the models have political agendas.

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BEELION-dollar lasso snaps, NASA mapper blind in one eye

Peter Gathercole
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I know that it's a bit of a downer ...

... but after NASA's recent string of outstanding successes, it's almost reassuring to know that they can have mishaps.

They were beginning to look almost infallible.

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OH DEAR, WHSmith: Sensitive customer data spaffed to world+dog

Peter Gathercole
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Re: WHSmith?

You know, WH Smiths actually does have a place on the High Street. In many small towns, they are often the only book seller stocking current titles there, and what a lot of people don't realise is that the other news agents in any area almost certainly get their news papers and magazines delivered through the WH Smith distribution channels.

I'm not saying that I agree with the way that they are reducing the space set aside to books in the smaller stores, as they only really now stock the big name author and celebrity books. They may still have one or two books from a couple of dozen other authors, but you can guarantee that you will not be able to buy a complete series from anything other than the major stores. "Oh", they say when asked, "We can always order them in for you". Yes. I can do that too, and Amazon may be cheaper.

But I still value a shop on my High street that has reasonable range and quality of stationary, books, magazines, maps, and many other things, when the rest of the chains have abandoned towns with populations under 15,000, so I still go out of my way to buy things from them.

The problem that many people who don't visit small towns don't appreciate is that they are being abandoned by the large shopping chains. You could say that it's my fault for living in such a town, but it's 20+ miles as the crow flies to get to the next largest town, and the roads mean that it's 45 minutes each way. Buying from the Internet is fine, but if I have to do a 40-50 mile round trip, just to buy things over the counter, it can make life more complicated.

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Manhattan-sized iceberg splits from glacier – and spotted FROM SPACE

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Just where do ... @AC re 10 Billion people

Yes. a good war with significant collateral damage, followed by famine and pestilence may be a way of keeping the population down, but it's not the one that I was aiming at.

I suspect that even though the 20th century had a number of quite serious conflicts, they did not significantly slow the rise of global population. The global flu pandemic of 1918 may have killed more people than the first and second world wars combined, although you could argue that that disaster would not have happened if large numbers of soldiers returning home after WW1 had not carried it with them.

IMHO, in these days of modern, mobile population and low-manpower warfare, wars are just going to displace more people more quickly, rather than killing them.

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Peter Gathercole
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Unhappy

Re: Just where do ... @AC re 10 Billion people

Ah, yes. But those 10 billion people won't live where the food is produced, so significant amounts of effort and resource would have to be expended getting the food to them (and, yes, I'm aware that the UK is a net importer of food).

If you let the population that lives in marginal areas procreate, and keep them alive beyond their locally available means with aid and medical treatment, these areas will become breeding grounds for people who will migrate, attempting to gain access to already populated less marginal areas.

I don't know where you live, but if it is in Europe, you can't help but notice the number of people trying to cross or skirt the Mediterranean. If things continue as they have been this year, we will soon see ghettos and shanty towns spring up around cities in eastern and southern Europe. These will not seem strange to the people who occupy them, after all, what is the difference between a hut with a tin roof in Athens or Lampedusa compared to one in Aleppo, but will severely degrade the lives of the native citizens.

Imagine how that is going to change if clean water becomes a conflict resource, driving ever more people into migration. Current clean water schemes in drought areas are not sustainable, because most of them are either tapping into aquifers and underground rivers, or even worse, into fossil water. The first will cause surface springs and rivers downstream to dry up, denying water to other people, and the second will not be replenished in the lifetime of current generations. This is not free water. Extracting it all has consequences (look up what's happening in California), and one of these could be future conflict.

No. Whilst I don't practice what Trevor is suggesting (I'm aiming for a stable population, with reasonable procreation levels to help pay for my state funded pension), I do agree that there are places on earth where we really should not be encouraging population growth. Trying to cap the population to something only a little above today's level is far, far preferable to driving the population to the point where it takes all of humanities efforts to just sustain the higher population.

I know I hold an NIMBY, elitist and uncomfortable view of the future, but I cannot see any alternative short of having a world government that rations out the worlds resources evenly.

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BT commences trials of copper-to-the-home G.fast broadband tech

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: Silly... @Cynical

Well, who knew that the teleco's would steal power from their customers! (although I'm sure that it will be in the terms and conditions of the contract).

I certainly didn't!

I hope it will be isolated from my neighbours. I would not like to let them steal power as well.

I must admit that I hope that the power draw is quite low and suitably protected in the router, because I would not trust the wires in a 4 pair telephone cable to carry any significant amount of current. And, yes, I do know that it's currently providing the power for a POTS phones at the moment.

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Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: Silly... @Cynical

"Up a pole" ignores the fact that the distribution point will need power. Most telecom poles will not have any power at all. Add to that the fact that there may be several houses fed from the same pole, and no matter how small they are, you will end up with something quite sizeable sitting in the air, where it's vulnerable.

No, it's going to be on or under the ground.

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Twenty years since Windows 95, and we still love our Start buttons

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

@Roger

Filling your desktop background with icons/folders is only really useful if you can see it!

For years and years (25 or so, pre-dating Windows 95), I have run on UNIX systems with screens covering the background almost completely. Not just a single maximised windows, but lots and lots of overlapping ones (at the moment, when I log on to my main work machine, my start-up configuration fires up 11 automatically, one of which is a browser with three tabs opened on start-up, spread over 8 virtual screens. And that is just the start of the day!)

I know that modern window managers often have a 'show the desktop' button or key sequence somewhere, but I don't want to minimise the open windows. I want to be able to pull a menu up over the top of the windows that are open. This makes desktop icons useless (and very ugly) to me.

A configurable pop-up menu, triggered by a suitable mouse/keyboard event, with 'walking' sub menus suits me perfectly. The Start button, on an auto-hide window bar works, so does a key-mouse combination (as I used to use on twm and derivatives) and a swipe to screen edge also works. I don't care beyond the first day or so while the action gets committed to muscle memory.

Of course, I expect the menu order and basic layout to remain fixed (none of this automatic management and re-arrangement of items thank-you-very-much) so that the menu looks the same each time it's brought up. Once I'm used to each system, I can work with it provided it does not change.

Currently, I'm very comfortable with all of win95/XP/Vista/7, Gnome 2 and KDE 3 style systems, mixed and matched on a daily basis. The whole concept of Unity, and my limited exposure to the Windows 8 'Modern' desktop feels foreign to me, and I can only get on with the Android type interfaces on devices where I'm pretty much forced to only do one thing at once.

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Peter Gathercole
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The old ones are the good ones!

Windows 7 ate 9.

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Why do driverless car makers have this insatiable need for speed?

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: Descisions @AC

Are we going to get to the state where the car's AI goes catatonic because it could not reconcile it any of it's actions with the Three Laws?

We need Susan Calvin!

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