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* Posts by RobHib

378 posts • joined 17 May 2013

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FTC gets judicial thumbs-up to SUE firms over data breaches

RobHib

What if this extended to Windows?

Hum, if that ruling/case law ever gets applied to Microsoft/Windows then life will get really interesting.

Seems to me that consumer legislation, fitness for purpose etc., could apply. The logic goes that if one's OS is easily hacked then by definition it's not 'fit for purpose'.

,

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Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars

RobHib
Angel

Home away from Home!

Promote it as a holiday destination or a home away from home and we'll significantly raise Oz's IQ.

(...A surely-needed undertaking.)

>:-)

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Apple has THREE TIMES as much cash as US govt, TWICE the UK

RobHib
Thumb Up

@JassMan -- Re: They have to keep all that moolah offshore

"Whoever wrote "Government by the rich for the rich" may have thought he was being sarcastic but never has a truer word been written in jest."

Right, it's fucking disgusting! If we did the same by tiny fractions then they'd lock us up for life and chuck away the key.

Modern 'democracy'—if it can be called that—has always preferentially benefited the rich.

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NSA denies it knew about and USED Heartbleed encryption flaw for TWO YEARS

RobHib
Facepalm

"The NSA declined to comment on the report whether it was aware of the Heartbleed flaw or if it had used the flaw to spy on communications."

Good journalism isn't necessarily unbiased. In these circumstances, you're both wasting time and calls on an already-known certainty.

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France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours

RobHib
Stop

@A.C. -- Re: Up the creek without paddle... @Steve Crook

"What you have to realise is that during the week most of the traffic on here comes from state employees sitting at their desks with very little to do."

Of course, it's very easy to say that as an Anonymous Coward. I don't work in the public sector but years ago I did for a while. Your comment wasn't true then, and it's even less so now for the majority of public sector employees. With governments having cut so many staff in recent decades, if anything many are overloaded.

I'm not denying there aren't small pockets within the public sector that could be given a hefty kick in the A., but by some stats many large corporations are actually worse in this regard. If you want to discuss real inefficiencies in the workforce then it's employing incompetents rather than lazy workers (often the case as they're cheaper).

I won't go into details as it would identify the operation but several days ago I had a phone conversation that lasted the better part of an hour with a very large commercial outfit--it was the third such conversation in about a month over the same issue and it still remains unresolved.

I'm totally lost for words to describe this conversation, and no one would believe me if I could. It'd have tested Shannon's to the limit--words were transferred but information wasn't: monkeys, typewriters and the works of Shakespeare also come to mind! If I'd had a recorder running over it, I'd have YouTube'd it. Whilst it's my worst personal experience on record, it's far from being the only one of this kind with commercial outfits--by comparison my most exasperating conversation with a government department would never gotten a look-in.

It would be very interesting indeed to have a handle on those stats you're suggesting. For, obvious reasons, it's very unlikely El Reg would ever publish them, unfortunately. Things aren't usually as obvious as they seem, for instance I'm posting this now from GMT/UTC+10:00. Now check the time posted and see how that fits in with your supposition.

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Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully

RobHib
Devil

I wonder...

Hum, I wonder if it's smart enough to track commercial jet aircraft.

(Seems the previous models weren't.)

>:-)

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Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight

RobHib

Useful as a wireless relay perhaps.

If it can fly indefinitely then perhaps it'd be useful for wireless linking in the way proposed for blimps and balloons (ultimately, being powered, it might be easier to keep in a fixed location, albeit in somekind of circular orbit).

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USB reversible cables could become standard sooner than you think

RobHib

Hope they do.

I hope they do and soon--and I also hope they're actually better connectors. The large USB is truly a poor design, I'm fed up with inserting it upside-down, only several weeks ago I broke the plastic that supports the contacts this way and partially stuffed the device the USB was in. Moreover, I didn't apply brute force.

It would be of considerable help if the new USBs had a very obvious keyway or its polarization was clearly obvious.

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How Brit computer maker beat IBM's S/360 - and Soviet spies

RobHib
Meh

Shame Really.

Shame really, the KDFs were nice powerful kit. Still, I learnt my trade on a 360.

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Windows XP is finally DEAD, right? Er, not quite. Here's what to do if you're stuck with it

RobHib
Flame

@Michael Habel -- Re: This comment is totall Bullsh--!

1. New hardware (mobos etc.) is available for XP, but you won't find it in gamer establishments, try industrial control instead.

2. In many cases there is NO upgrade for XP. Vista, Win 7 and Win 8 are not equivalents to XP in many installations--either in the ergonomic (UI) sense, or program compatibility--too many things break. And thus many kiosks will be around forever (in IT-years anyway).

3. Quintessentially, Microsoft has NO replacement for XP (as was XP for W2K, NT, W98, W95 etc.). MS went off on a tangent and left millions high and dry. Many of them have chosen to ignore upgrading altogether--as there is nothing to upgrade to!! (Without expense and moving away from MS altogether.)

4. You, and even El Reg have missed the point this time which is what happens when a monopoly fucks up. It's time governments et al said enough is enough, we need to contract 'second-source' suppliers to build a compatible Win32/64 API OS, (this is what the military has done for hundreds of years, and it's done it on the basis that for critical systems you cannot just have one supplier--in case he goes belly-up at a critical time--as MS has done over Vista, W7 & W8).

5. Today, the world depends on the Win32/64 API, it's now a critical infrastructure. Thus, it makes sense for a worldwide conglomerate of governments etc. to force the issue and contract for an OS to built by whoever will take it on--a consortium perhaps, possibly even open systems. Ultimately, it'd be cheaper in the long run than just leaving the solution to MS to just dream up what it thinks the market needs (and to get it wrong so many times).

6. I cannot believe there are so many users and commentards who are still prepared to lick MS's arse after it has done so much damage to you and everybody else! Why and for what reason would you want to do that?

As I said, even here El Reg has also missed the fundamental issue of why we have a problem in the first place.

It's time to get really aggressive with Microsoft, if users have to play really dirty in the process then they're only meeting Microsoft on its own level.

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Why won't you DIE? IBM's S/360 and its legacy at 50

RobHib

Eventually we stripped scrapped 360s for components.

"IBM built its own circuits for S/360, Solid Logic Technology (SLT) - a set of transistors and diodes mounted on a circuit twenty-eight-thousandths of a square inch and protected by a film of glass just sixty-millionths of an inch thick. The SLT was 10 times more dense the technology of its day."

When these machines were eventually scrapped we used the components from them for electronic projects. Their unusual construction was a pain, much of the 'componentry' couldn't be used because of the construction. (That was further compounded by IBM actually partially smashing modules before they were released as scrap.)

"p3 [Photo caption] The S/360 Model 91 at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, with 2,097,152 bytes of main memory, was announced in 1968"

Around that time our 360 only had 44kB memory, it was later expanded to 77kB in about 1969. Why those odd values were chosen is still somewhat a mystery to me.

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RobHib
Devil

@John Smith 19 -- Re: You say "cloud" I say mainframe. You say "browser" I say "dumb terminal."

"Which of course means that who runs the mainframe runs you."

Perhaps, but not quite. We hacked our 360!

Fellow students and I hacked the student batch process on our machine to overcome the restrictive limitations the uni place on our use of it (that's long before the term 'hacker' came into use).

(I've fond memories of being regularly thrown out of the punch card room at 23:00 when all went quiet. That 360 set me on one of my careers.)

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LaCie bigs up 2big, 5big, 8big... WHOMP: Lands big data on your desk

RobHib

RAID 0 -- Of course it will.

Note that hot-swapping these drives with a RAID 0 configuration will cause data loss - ouch.

Of course it will. Bit difficult to stripe without a drive. Not a good idea to hot swap other drives in RAID either. Mind you, I'd be very happy to own that setup. ;-)

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Organic food: Pricey, not particularly healthy, won't save you from cancer

RobHib
Facepalm

@ Zog_but_not_the_first -- Re: Eating well

So many arguments here (when is a "chemical" not a chemical etc.?)....

Right! Everything--everything--everything around one consists of chemicals! There's no exceptions (unless you're strange and pedantic and want to argue that elements are not chemicals, or other states of matter such as plasmas).

The fact is that the human body is ALL chemicals.

What chemicals they are and in what concentrations is a separate issue.

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RobHib

@Kubla Cant -- Re: so NOT putting lots of chemicals in your body is NOT ok then?

Gardeners tend to select varieties for flavour

Very true, there are literally dozens of varieties of many types of produce that are not available in the shops. One of my pet peeves is the lack bean varieties available. To solve the problem, I ended up growing all sorts of beans including some wonderful climbing varieties.

Even so, I've had to sprinkle derris dust (rotenone) on the baby bean shoots or I'd have had nothing!

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RobHib

@Psyx -- Re: @Psyx -- Luxury item

Despite me raising questions about the levels of pollution elsewhere, there is NO doubt that large chemical companies polluted willy-nilly decades ago (before sensitive detectors such a mass spectrometers etc. could detect them). With modern detectors, we can now look back in retrospect and analyse the pollution with some accuracy.

Despite the accuracy of current detection methods, these companies continually lie and or doge the issue, blame someone else, or say the pollution isn't as bad as people make out. After years of this crap, the population doesn't know what to believe--it's FUD (fear, Uncertainty & Doubt), unfortunately it partially works, especially with a population who is not sufficiently literate in chemistry.

Whilst what much of what these chemical companies utter is lies and propaganda, some does have a modicum of truth about it. When companies say the pollution isn't as bad as people make out, they're sometimes correct. This occurs when reagents have just caustic or acidic burning effects on people (as opposed to systemic poisoning). In these cases, simple (but efficient) remedial measures can make the site safe as any remaining residue will be essentially harmless through dilution.

Unfortunately, anti-chemical groups and the Greenies often won't concede this, thus they too generate FUD in the community. What's more, these days they're armed with both new-age, do-gooder chemists equipped with mass spectrometers to prove the point (and with the population not being clear about the differences chemical concentrations having just caustic and burning effects and those that are known carcinogens/systemic poisons etc., then FUD goes feral). This does not help!

Distinguishing between harmful waste and the more insidious waste whose exact effects on humans is known to be dangerous (or unknown or potentially dangerous) is actually is a simple notion; it's the processing of the subsequent data which is often corrupted and leads to problems. Unfortunately, both the combating protagonists and government agencies refuse to classify pollutants this simple way which leaves communities in confusion.

It seems the assumption is that FUD is useful to all sides (for whatever each is trying to prove). Moreover, instead of governments being frank and open with citizens and adjudicating properly, they offer the same advice to the total population, which invariably is advice aimed at the LCD--the person who has not one iota of chemical knowledge, thus even partially knowledgeable citizens are left in the dark.

Again, this does not help alleviate community fears either.

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RobHib
Headmaster

@zemerick -- Re: "Organic - I don't think that word means what you think it does."

Let there be no argument about the definition:

______________________________

Dictionary.com definition of:

Organic, adjective

1. noting or pertaining to a class of chemical compounds that formerly comprised only those existing in or derived from plants or animals, but that now includes all other compounds of carbon.

2. characteristic of, pertaining to, or derived from living organisms: organic remains found in rocks.

3. of or pertaining to an organ or the organs of an animal, plant, or fungus.

4. of, pertaining to, or affecting living tissue: organic pathology.

5. Psychology . caused by neurochemical, neuroendocrinologic, structural, or other physical impairment or change: organic disorder.

____________________________________

Oxforddictionaries.com definition in English of:

Organic, adjective

1. Relating to or derived from living matter: organic soils

1.1 Chemistry Relating to or denoting compounds containing carbon (other than simple binary compounds and salts) and chiefly or ultimately of biological origin. Compare with inorganic.

2. (Of food or farming methods) produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals: organic farming organic meat.

3. Physiology Relating to a bodily organ or organs.

3.1 Medicine (Of a disease) affecting the structure of an organ.

4. Denoting or characterized by a harmonious relationship between the elements of a whole: the organic unity of the integral work of art.

4.1 Characterized by gradual or natural development: the organic growth of community projects.

_____________________________

I would suggest that the word Organics (in contemporary usage) has a subtle but significantly different meaning to Organic but I'll let you look that up.

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RobHib

@caradoc -- Re: Organic foods healthier? -- First, Let's Cut the Bullshit Over Chemicals.

"Even dioxin isn't as toxic as claimed, at its worst it causes chloracne. Whilst it may cause cancer in specially bred cancer susceptible rats, at high doses, it has never been proven in humans, even after the Soweso disaster"

I don't want to enter the debate over dioxin toxicity as I'm not a toxicologist, except to say dioxins vary substantially from one another as to their toxicity. What I do know is that I would go to considerable lengths to avoid them in concentrations that cause harm to humans.

If one looks for say dioxin then one will find it in miniscule quantities everywhere. Many burning processes produce traces of it. Essentially, we've lived with such traces ever since the invention of fire without any consequences.

The point I was making in my post and which I find absolutely key, is that modern detecting and analysis equipment such as the mass spectrograph, now allows us to detect chemical concentrations with orders of magnitude more sensitivity than we could do by traditional chemical analysis. Thus simply seeing a 'nasty' compound's presence in a sample is sufficient to tempt the observer to announce the finding, even if its concentration has no practical significance whatsoever.

Moreover, many of the new breed of chemists don't seem overly alarmed by this, whereas older more experienced ones consider such readings as being in the measurement noise and thus irrelevant (obviously, what I am saying is subject to the circumstances).

As I see it, the community of chemists has a professional responsibility to help allay some of fear of chemicals that's now rife across the population. Again, chemists should address the serious issue of why so many of the population can study 5 or 6 year's chemistry at high school and seemingly have no idea about or feel for the relevance of chemicals in the environment (it's as if anything they've done at school bares no relation to practical reality). Moreover, many of these students actually turn out to be just as ignorant and scared of chemicals as those who've no chemistry training at all.

It seems to me that this is a serious problem. Somehow, modern training has left these people without any practical understanding of the subject after more than half a decade's study. I have my own theories on why this has come about, the essence of which I summarise in the end note¹.

"The burning of fireworks introduces huge amounts of toxic gases into the atmosphere, along with large quantities of particulate matter."

Don't announce this too loudly or the Greenies will take the hint and have fireworks banned. ;-)

Mind you, I've thought the same about it and discussed it with fellow New Year revellers. The conclusion we came to was worldwide and in the grand scheme of things, the total release was essentially miniscule.

Even if that's not the case, then it ought to be the techie's official line. Otherwise, some killjoy will find a way to put the kibosh on it.

__________________

¹ My own theory is that occupational health and safety has much to do with it. Kids can't get their hands 'dirty' with chemicals as they once did. They don't own chemistry sets as a matter of course as they once did; they're not encouraged to make black powder and blow things up (as I was). In fact, at school we had several lab periods in which we optimised the ratios for black powder, got the particle granularity correct and eventually tested our efforts (done outside of course).

Continuing, these kids have never stuck their hands in a large bowl of mercury and tried to touch the bottom of the bowl--in fact, I know of some kids (even young adults) who've never seen Hg in real life--even in thermometers. Amazing but true! Our school lab was exceptionally well equipped, it included metallic sodium, potassium, dangerous chemicals such as benzine, precursors for dangerous chemicals--potassium ferro/ferricynide etc.; and we made HCN then used it as reagent (in a normal lab experiment); we boiled aqua regia in a retort and dissolved tiny bits of gold in it, and we made H2S in a Kipp's Generator. (And unofficially one lunchtime, my lab partner and I made nitroglycerine using eyedropper quantities so we wouldn't kill ourselves. It worked, and the resulting bang blew the bottom off the test tube containing the experiment at the meniscus level with a perfect cut--the test tube's top was left completely intact. Those who know this experiment, will know the 'good oil' is only a small percentage of the test tube's contents--a thin layer that separates out.)

Today, all such activities are banned from school labs. It seems to me that this is a tragedy; for unless kids have frisson and excitement in experimental science then they'll never get a feel for the subject. I'm not alone thinking this way, in fact most I've discussed the matter with agree that what's happened to high school science has been a tragic mistake.

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RobHib

@Psyx -- Re: Luxury item

"...less pesticides and nitrates being pumped into our water table and environment. I view my own health as somewhat less of a motivator than my countryside's."

In a long-winded post further on I argue the case for using a pesticide based on currently available scientific evidence that shows it to be reasonably safe. I did this to show not only how emotive the public discourse on this issue has become but also how woolly some of the thinking behind the arguments actually is. We've now a situation where it's nigh on impossible to have a sensible conversation with an organic farmer (or organic devotee) about pesticides, and on the other side, we've pesticide advocates and manufacturers etc. who think the organic mob is simply wacky. This doesn't solve anything.

The issues surrounding organics and the use of pesticides etc. is substantially more complicated than two opponent sides just facing off and shouting at one another (all that achieves is that the opposing mantras being broadcast from both sides only further confuse the naive public). Moreover, what is of considerable concern is how this Mexican standoff developed in the first place (but that's too big a subject to tackle here). Still, it potentially holds the key for a solution, but the sides are so entrenched and the history so long and involved, that I cannot see a resolution occurring anytime soon.

I've more than just a theoretical interest in the subject, I first used pesticides long enough ago to have seen and used arsenate of lead [PbHAsO4] when it was still an approved insecticide (and in recent years I've used its cousin, arsenic trioxide [As2O3], to kill termites). I used lead arsenate mainly to combat codling moth in apple trees, which I first started to do at about 12 years of age. And I know from the spraying practices adopted back then, I would have been exposed to and absorbed some of the chemical. (Absorbing arsenic into one's system is highly undesirable at any time, but to do so as a child is even worse.)

Before organic advocates and Greenies feint in horror, let me acquaint you with a few facts. Both codling moth and fruit fly can totally destroy crops. Left untreated, an orchard in an area of bad infestation can have essentially every piece of fruit destroyed—nothing is left, I know, I've seen it happen. In such a situation, just one single application of lead arsenate knocks codling moth for six—afterwards the exact opposite is true, one would find difficulty in finding any infestation at all. There's no doubt about it, lead arsenate is devastatingly effective against codling moth, same with Malathion for fruit fly.

Today, no one is advocating putting the double-whammy of both lead and arsenic into the environment no matter how effective an insecticide lead arsenate is. That said, one should put things into perspective. In many places, one cubic metre of backyard garden soil contains enough naturally-occurring arsenic to kill a person! Not that anyone will be harmed by it, but it should be remembered that arsenic is pretty common in the environment.

I am not arguing for one second that there are not dangerous manmade chemicals in the environment and that much of this pollution is not manmade--it certainly is. Also, I'm not arguing for any relaxation of regulations with respect to pesticides etc., in fact I'd argue just the opposite.

As I point out in the latter post, the single biggest problem in this debate is the morbid fear of chemicals and chemical pollution that has griped the population over the past few decades, it's so all-embracing that the matter cannot effectively be part of the public discourse.

My primary concern is about the ignorance and fear that surrounds this debate. Fear of chemicals is so irrational, entrenched and all pervasive within the community that it now seems impossible to move this debate on. As I've said elsewhere "clearly, school chemistry has monumentally failed to educate the public about chemicals". This wasn't once the case, the fundamental questions are why we've developed such fears in recent years and what we can do to allay them.

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RobHib
Stop

Organic foods healthier? -- First, Let's Cut the Bullshit Over Chemicals.

"And we all know that chemicals, in this case mainly pesticides, are bad for you."

Are they? What an almighty sweeping statement (but so typical and commonplace today). So let's spent a moment analysing its implications.

If all those years studying chemistry taught me anything, it is that you cannot generalise in this way about chemicals. So what does it mean to say 'pesticides are bad for you'?

For starters, in the philosophical sense, 'bad' is an unqualified simple notion in that it has no extent or measure. Thus grouping all pesticides under 'bad' is both foolish and confusing. It (a) further condemns all pesticides into a single 'bad' basket in the minds of the lay public, and, (b) grouping all pesticides into one classification is potentially dangerous. For instance, if all pesticides are classified as equally 'bad' then we're saying (or at least implying) that:

Pyrethrum – (very mildly hazardous, mainly just irritating to humans),

Malathion – (moderately hazardous to humans), and,

Dichlorvos – (highly hazardous to all animal life)

are essentially one and the same and should dealt with together (thus obviously stupid). And it only reinforces the public's misconception that all chemicals are 'sort of equally' dangerous—some muddleheaded idea that's entered the public consciousness only in recent¹ years.

We must always determine* what chemical pesticides are being used (hence know their properties); know when they were applied to crops and in what concentrations, and know the safety criteria such as the minimum duration from the last application/spraying to the harvesting and eating to ensure pesticide residues are within safe/acceptable limits. Other issues also arise, such as when multiple pesticides are used together, as there are potential dangers which might arise from synergistic effects. Moreover, if synergistic effects did occur and were found to be harmless to healthy humans, then is may not be the case for vulnerable humans who are already suffering from other conditions.

* This rule applies for any event involving chemistry/chemicals. One often watches TV reports of almost comical responses to chemical events/spillages etc. as it's very clear those responding have little knowledge of chemistry. To be fair, I know they're having to apply HAZMAT/Hazchem rules, but even so it's often clear from what is said that their practical chemistry knowledge is wanting. Perhaps if the public was more knowledgeable in such matters then the HAZMAT/Hazchem rules might be more flexible.

Beware the prophets of doom.

Concentration² is just about everything in chemistry but alarmists regularly make more of a chemical's actual presence than they do about its concentration. Just because you can detect a dangerous chemical doesn't mean that it will harm you if concentrations are low enough. Other issues are also important such as is the chemical processed easily by the liver etc., or is it cumulative, a la Hg, and heavy metals etc?

Unfortunately, the ready availability of very sensitive mass spectrometers etc. in recent years has often meant that the matter of concentration seems to have been lost in the 'look what we found' hype. Detecting a molecule serves no useful purpose unless the effects (and relevance) of its concentration are also known (or its value put into perspective, which is often not the case).

For example, detecting a few molecules of dioxin downwind of one's campfire hardly constitutes a pollution crisis, despite dioxin's toxicity. Just because campfires produce tiny traces of dioxin doesn’t mean we should ban them. It's clear that there's often much hype and abuse associated with these chemical/pollution statistics and that this has further led to the common notion in the public's mind that most chemicals are 'bad' (and very frightening).

Applying science and objective logic.

At the extremes of argument, nothing seems simple, as issues become clouded through emotion. Unfortunately, this is how the 'Organic Brigade' and Greenies regularly run anti-chemical debates, which often degenerate into emotional slanging matches without much substance.

Looking at the scientific and technical data makes considerably more sense. Still, one must be wary of 'facts' claimed in the name of science. Especially if the scientific evidence comes from the likes of multinational chemical companies such as Monsanto. Thus, when analysing evidentiary data/information, it is (a) important to know both its provenance and the authority under which it was produced, and (b) use other sources to corroborate such information.

Applying these principles to a practical case.

The problem in the public discourse today is that so much reporting is given to inaccuracy and exaggeration to the extent that the public doesn't know what to believe. Moreover, nothing is worse than the fear that's been developed in the public's mind over chemicals (clearly, school chemistry has monumentally failed to educate the public about chemicals).

Here's an example of such a statement and how I would go about verifying it (without getting bogged down in too many technicalities):

"If the organophosphate pesticide Malathion is applied sufficiently early in the crop cycle to ensure the recommended minimum time must pass before the food is consumed, then it has been shown to be essentially benign to humans. That is, if Malathion is applied to food crops then a recommended minimum washout period must be observed before the food is deemed safe and fit to eat."

The case against this statement (as taken from the public discourse):

* Those opposed to the use of Malathion cite that it causes everything imaginable including--of course--cancer (an always obligatory inclusion).

* Evidence of these effects is usually anecdotal and there is no shortage of them (and they are often not stated in detail, nor peer reviewed). (However, often they are exaggerations and inferences projected from actual instances of excessive overexposure to Malathion (those mixing and spraying it).)

* Most of those stating the case against Malathion are not qualified to so do but blatantly so do.

* The organisations behind those making claims against Malathion usually have political agendas that would dovetail neatly with a ban being placed on the product. (The philosophy being that most chemicals are as dangerous and thus ought to be banned.)

The case for the statement:

* A search shows that this statement reflects the current view of most regulatory authorities today over many (but not all) jurisdictions.

* This view of safety hasn't changed significantly in over 50 years (Malathion having come to market in the mid 1950s). There has been no appreciable changes to safety since then.

* CAS (Chemical Abstract Service) data essentially confirms what regulators say.

* For decades, there have been claims that Malathion causes cancer. Despite more than 50 years having passed together with much research, there is still no actual evidence let alone conclusive proof that it does cause cancer.

* Whenever Malathion has been applied to crops according to rules, no cases of people being harmed has been reported.

* Whilst Malathion is both an organophosphate and dangerous, it has only shown to be so under conditions and in concentrations that would not be found in normal use.

* Personal (anecdotal) experience. Malathion has been around a very long time. As a kid in the 1960s, I had the job of spraying fruit trees with Malathion to protect against codling moth and fruit fly and we suffered no obvious ill back effects then.

Thus, on a reasonable analysis and assessment of the evidence before me, I would have to conclude that Malathion when applied according to rule is essentially safe to use.

Whether Malathion when used under the recommended conditions, is completely and totally harmless is another matter. But given the evidence and circumstances, the issue is hardly relevant.

______

¹ In many ways, our grandparents had a better practical working understanding of chemistry than do people of today. For instance, my grandmother knew that cloudy ammonia was alkaline, thus highly useful for taking the scum off the bath, cleaning very dirty paintwork etc. whereas those properties were ill suited to cleaning the toilet and that for this sodium hypochlorite was superior. She made soap from scratch—lye (NaOH) was everywhere in large tins around the laundry. Reagents, cleaning agents and various other chemicals used for various purposes were commonplace, these included HCL, Oxalic Acid, Sodium Carbonate, Mag Sulphate/Epsom Salts and others including thallium and phosphorous which were used as rodenticides. Neither my grandparents or parents were the slightest bit scared of chemicals but they respected them. For instance, the thallium, phosphorous and oxalic acid were locked in a special cupboard and marked 'poison'.

My-my, how the world has dumbed-down.

² To the pernickety, don't question my over-simplification, you know what I mean.

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How Microsoft can keep Win XP alive – and WHY: A real-world example

RobHib
Windows

@A.C. -- Re: Regime Change

Your account of Microsoft's modus operandi is about as precise and detailed as it gets; it's unfortunate, however, that there are not more of Microsoft's knowledgeable customers like you to corroborate such ugly facts.

Your list exposes/details a multitude of unethical and questionable business practices which Microsoft has used over many years to opportunistically manipulate every cent possible out of its millions of customers—practices that Microsoft could easily exploit from its position of monopoly. Users, commentators and regulators worldwide have known about Microsoft's exploitive business practices for years and collectively have done nothing about them. Moreover, whilst we've occasionally seen such practices brought before the regulators, they've chosen to have done little or nothing about them, or they've just gone tut-tut; thus it's always been business as usual for Microsoft.

The question is why everyone—from PC users to governments, from industry commentators to computing and information technology researchers—has given Microsoft such a joyous and carefree ride over so many years without demanding better products and services in return—has to be one of the biggest conundrums of the PC era.

Given that Microsoft's monopolistic and exploitive business practices were so well known, then the big question is why has Microsoft been so protected by so many for so long. Right, why has Microsoft been allowed to go unchallenged and unfettered for between two and three decades. Alternatively, how is it that Microsoft has secured immunity from governments and regulators for so long, not to mention avoiding the widespread wrath of its customers?

Part of the answer has to be that for well over 20 years, Microsoft has received little more than just noise in criticism, much of which has come principally from a disgruntled rabble of techie commentards, many of whom frequent on-line forums such as El Reg's pages to vent their spleen. Thus, they're easily dismissed or ignored in any discourse about big business, or those concerning government policies and regulation, and importantly, in matters of trade and the newly rising star of intellectual property…and of course, they were in fact ignored.

Whilst no doubt future researchers will provide answers to these questions (and their findings may even possibly be the basis for new law limiting such abuses), that's of little consolation now.

The biggest single reason for Microsoft not having been brought to account has been the failure of professional commentators, journalists and other experts to push home the many problems arising from Microsoft's monopolistic position, especially those associated with Windows.

Rather than objectively analyse and report on core issues confronting Microsoft's products, for decades the technical press has been completely mesmerised by Microsoft—taking many of its pronouncements as gospel and without question. Moreover, it's been infatuated by the frothy baubles thrown at it by Microsoft—products especially designed to distract the gullible. Thus, we've criticism of sorts but they've nothing to do with the high level issues posed by the limitations of such programs (again Microsoft's marketing succeeds through distraction).

(It's never ceased to amaze me how easily a good percentage of techies—even very knowledgeable and experienced ones—are distracted or are bought off by new tech which, in the grand schema, ultimately turns out to be of little value or relevance. Microsoft marketing has always known this fact and has played it up to the hilt; it's why it has gotten away with so much for so long.)

There's also a wider social dimension to this not unlike fanboys' adoration of Apple and all things Apple—never a criticism to be heard anywhere. However, with Microsoft it takes on a more muted form along the lines that whatever Microsoft says and does then it does so with an air of authority, which even if not liked or thought to be wrong by users, should nevertheless never be seriously questioned by them. Hence, journalistic criticism of Microsoft spends most of its life skirting around the real issues that confront poor hapless Microsoft users.

As mentioned in my post below to jelabarre59, with Microsoft there's also an element of Emperor's New Clothes phenomenon at work here. 'If the world's licking MS's arse, and whilst this is strange to me—given my problems with Microsoft—then the real problem must lie with me and not with Microsoft.'

Nevertheless, whilst I find this longstanding herd mentality for not criticising Microsoft strange and illogical, I accept that faced with limited options thrown up by Microsoft's monopoly, that, for many, pragmatism is the order of the day. It's better to pretend to like Microsoft and to make the best of the bad lot that the monopoly has on offer.

Silence, however, ultimately has gotten us nowhere. Instead, user inaction has allowed Microsoft to abuse licencing to the point where it's possible to level accusations of exploitation at its monopoly, and insufficient outcry/outrage has meant that in almost every country around the globe inadequate consumer law has been enacted.

That Microsoft never offered an upgrade/ergonomic equivalent to XP, or never felt that it had to, and that it was free to experiment with the UI without regard to users' wishes has left Windows users in an invidious position, especially so with the demise of XP support.

It's only now after much faltering by Microsoft—Vista, Win-7 bloatware, W8/8.1 fiasco, no upgrade or ergonomic equivalent for XP, failure of MS to add much needed core improvements to Windows, failure to adequately secure the OS, not to mention its willy-nilly changes to the UI, etc., that the world is finally starting to complain on mass.

There'll be those who still think that complainers such as me are off the mark and ought to shut up and just go with the flow. My response is to have them reread your list of indictments against MS and to then ask themselves whether they consider this his how a responsible monopoly would or should act.

I would also add that I don't sit around all day finding ways to criticise Microsoft just for the sake of it, I've better things to do. For me and millions like me, Microsoft's monopoly has been both unavoidable and very difficult. Despite Linux and other users saying that it's our own fault for initially using Microsoft, the matter is far from being that simple.

I'd venture that almost everyone in IT management anywhere would have stories concerning difficulties arising out of Microsoft's monopolistic practices whether their principle OS is Windows or not. When I examine my time in IT, the overwhelming issue for me is the years of wasted time which I have had to spend trying to solve or sidestep problems created by Microsoft's marketing in its attempts to rake in even more monies.

These time-wasting and ultimately expensive issues range from restrictive licensing through to policies concerning security such as the integration of IE and other subsystems into the OS and Microsoft's steadfast refusal to allow their decoupling from the OS, along with a myriad of other related problems, would never have surfaced—or if they had then they'd have been quickly dealt with—had Microsoft acted as an engineering company which concerned itself with providing customers with the best IT solutions.

Rather, Microsoft has been a pariah of a marketing company run by marketers whose influence flows deep to within the operating parameters of its products. For instance, Windows' technical parameters have been optimised to fit Microsoft's marketing schema—not those of its users.

What we must remember is it's not just my years of wasted time but it's also that of millions of others around the globe over many years. The waste of human effort finding workarounds to Microsoft's many unnecessary obstacles has just been enormous (and ultimately someone needs to put a reasonable measure against it). Frankly, this is unacceptable behaviour for any company let alone a multinational monopoly. As an international monopoly, Microsoft has a social responsibility to minimise and solve computing problems, not to create them.

Quo Vadis, the question is where next from here. It seems the first step would be for the many timid commentators and technical journalists to reassess their positions—give up bribes of free copies of Windows etc. and begin a high level analysis of the many difficult issues in which Microsoft has placed its users. Next, it would seem sensible for users to push for some compatible alternative OS to the Win32/64 to be developed—or take over the essentially defunct ReactOS as jelabarre59 is hinting at.

It's also time users started flexing their muscle. For example, I see you are posting as an 'Anonymous Coward'. Whilst I can understand the reasons for your action (such as the possibility of you being an MS employee or a company close to MS), criticisms such as yours are much easier to deflect if they originate behind a cloak of anonymity.

A more concerted consensus of what has gone wrong with Microsoft's monopoly might ultimately have an effect on politicians and the legislative process. However, I've little faith in politicians correcting this in the near future, as it's clear that Microsoft has the ear of many governments, if not directly then indirectly through international trade and intellectual property treaties—treaties the likes of Microsoft and ilk have heavily invested in as an insurance policy against haphazard government legislation which might be detrimental to their interests.

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RobHib
Windows

@ jelabarre59 -- Re: ROS

Oh you are so correct. What I find infuriating is that the need for an alternative Win-API compatible OS was glaringly obvious well over a decade ago--and long before Vista. By Win-7, it was, metaphorically, the equivalent of being shot at, the need was so obvious.

Still, the main industry commentards--magazine editors--etc., etc. did nothing but offer platitudes to Microsoft (and any criticism was kept minimal and muted). I'm still trying to figure out how MS 'bribed' or cajoled them (surely they couldn't have been that blind not to see what was happening, so why didn't they react)? Even cynical old El Reg could have said more.

It's as if Microsoft enacted mind control over thousands of otherwise rational, knowledgeable IT people. It defies logic.

It seems to me that there is a sort of Emperor's New Clothes phenomenon at work here--'if everybody's licking MS's arse then it can't be right for me to criticise it either'. It's been herd mentality not to criticise Microsoft, now it's possibly too late. Again, I find this logic just so strange to accept.

As a person who fundamentally wants my computers to function efficiently and in certain ways, and everywhere I find that I am blocked [principally] by Microsoft, then it seems logical for me to not only to criticise Microsoft BUT ALSO to bring my problems with MS products to the attention of other users, as collectively we might be able to do something about them.

Why powerful industry commentards haven't sought to do the same and used their influence I find very peculiar indeed. Then again, perhaps this is why I'm a techie and not a director on the board of a multinational company.

The fundamental problem of having only one supplier of OS APIs has been with us for decades, even by Windows 95 any perceptive Windows user was well aware of the risks of having only one compatible OS on the market.

(And we always had the military as a shining example, it has always required having multiple/alternative suppliers of materiel and components.)

Why there wasn't an almighty rush to support ReactOS or similar alternative from very early on simply defies my understanding. Could it be that most users were intimidated by Microsoft and that I was not be the reason for my confusion?

I wish I understood.

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RobHib

@defiler -- Re: @ Flocke Kroes -- Wrong economics

I'll reply to the easy bits first. The reasons why few know how to fix their computer problems is hobbyhorse of mine and the explanation is long and complex, it'll have to wait for a moment.

So, a Win32/64 API in a 3rd-party OS? You mean WINE then?

No, that didn't occur to me at all, although it's solution I actually use. What I had in mind was some commercial operation that built a clone of Windows using all known (published and unpublished but known) Win32/64 APIs.

It hadn't occurred to me but an enormous hack of OS/2 might suffice. I had something more like ReactOS in mind but developed to work (the opposite of dead-in-the-water ReactOS). BTW, ReactOS does incorporate parts of Wine (which seems to make sense).

The concept, as you rightly imply, is wishful thinking. I know of no company who'd develop the Windows API from scratch. However, despite my derogatory comments about ReactOS, its tiny development team has gotten the OS to the point were it actually runs MS Office and some other well known programs, thus developing the Win 32/64 API can actually be done from scratch.

BTW, before I go further, I need to declare my past. I was an avid OS/2 user from v1 to Warp and I actively resisted moving to Windows until the inevitable struck. Likewise, everyone thought I was mental for running OS/2. There was a group of us OS/2 diehards who were regularly laughed at by the 'un-knowledgeable' but that made us only more determined to continue using it. Also, the way Bill and cronies purloined the OS/2 code for NT only irritated and made us more determined. I still have Xearth on my desktop albeit the Windows version 1.2. I first tried Xearth on OS/2 (rather than UNIX from which it had been originally ported). Xearth is showing its age now and I wish someone would update it. At one time I even looked into doing it myself.

And what would I do if 'Otherdows' became a reality? Depends on the application, it's unlikely I'd recommend it to anyone who'd need PC hand-holding, but if it worked I'd deploy it in various areas, especially in places that wouldn't justify buying a full Windows (e,g,: old PC boxes that otherwise might be discarded). It depend on how well it worked really. If it was really solid and essentially compatible for most things except say DLLs and EXEs that actually were a part of Windows, then MS would never get another look-in.

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RobHib
Flame

@Ken Hagan -- Re: Keeping Windows XP alive is not good for anyone

"the only thing stopping your XP application from scaling perfectly on a Hi-DPI system is the fact that later versions of Windows deliberately lie to you when you call these APIs."

This nonsense is so infuriating that I'm surprised there hasn't been more uproar over it. Why does Microsoft continue to do this?

This sort of imprecision has permeated throughout Windows for years, take Explorer's 'size' display which rounds to the nearest 1k. When you have say an autorun.inf file that's only 33 bytes and Explorer shows it as 1k it's BOTH infuriating and time consuming. What is even more annoying is that one cannot increase Explorer's precision with say a switch or in the options setting. Don't the patronising bastards who did this realise that for many technical users the difference between 33 bytes and 1k byte is actually important?

Perhaps I'm just too old fashioned for this postmodernist age where nothing is absolute and striving for truth and accuracy is seen as outdated and a waste of time. I was schooled in old fashioned engineering where integrity and accuracy are important axioms in one's work. For example let me illustrate this with a case from my past:

Job was a weighing plant involving multiple strain gauges. [Figures aren't gospel as they're from memory.] I check the accuracy and resolution of the gauges and the spec says the accuracy is ±0.03kg and the limiting resolution ±0.005kg. Ok fine, we need a digital readout that indicates three decimal places at most (if truthful, only two). And if marketing insists then I wouldn't put up a huge fight over including a 4th digit (but I would insist it was masked a different colour).

Now the software programmer insisted that we add two more digits because his calculations were to 6 decimal places. My advice was ignored; so, in practice, the poor hapless customer got a machine that he thought was far more accurate that it really was (even if the true accuracy was specified in the fine print of the manual).

With no amount of arguing could I convince this software guy that actually displaying the last two digits in the machine's LED display was both misleading and deceptive.

[I know what follows is a generalisation but I've seen too many similar examples to that above for it not to have some validity, moreover we've many examples of Microsoft doing it, albeit here decreasing accuracy.]

What is it about software programmers that allows them to so willingly accept such practices--that of playing lose with reality? There was nothing in my software training that explains it except accuracy and rounding weren't given the priority they were in engineering. It seems to me that actual hands-on contact with physical reality imbibes an understanding that somehow evades those who only see it through the screen and keyboard.

As we've seen, Microsoft has been guilty of this 'precision crime' for many years. What I find very troubling is that so few users actually consider the issue important. Perhaps it's me and my stuffy old training which no longer has any relevance in the modern slap-dash world.

(Nevertheless, as I write this, my formal logic training is screaming out that "I must be losing control of my senses to even contemplate the previous sentence".)

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RobHib
Thumb Up

@ IamITatHome -- Re: Use the nLite tool to slipstream all post-SP3 patches....

Re nLite, I agree with A.C.'s assessment and what he has done. nLite is a remarkably useful tool for anyone who maintains XP systems on a regular basis and it's free.

Whilst it is almost foolproof to use, it can take some getting used to for one to fully optimise one's install ISO. This is simply because we Microsoft O/S users aren't used to the plethora of options it offers, during an install Microsoft keeps us at arm's length and with minimal to say.

I've been advocating that Microsoft should bring out a highly configurable version of its OSes for techie, engineering and scientific users, and if it ever does then nLite is pretty much how the initial functions of its installer should work.

For me, nLite is a must-have, 5+ stars XP utility. Damn shame it's not available for the other OSes.

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RobHib
Thumb Up

@Trevor_Pott -- Re: This is the fault of Trevor's clients

"I was not a part of the original purchase decision,) and I have been called back recently to secure the XP boxes for another 10 years of service."

This is one of the quintessential comments in this set of posts. Nothing else need be said to prove that XP is far from dead whether we like it or not--or if we love or hate Microsoft. Facts are facts, and they've spoken.

Even I'm surprised at the extent of the feedback to this article from those who are still using XP, W2K and even NT--someone even mentioned WfW3.11. It's surprising in the sense that in a tech publication such as El Reg where one finds a preponderance of propeller-heads that the matter of seemingly-obsolete OSes is so alive and well.

Someone ought to bring these posts to the attention of Microsoft, as I reckon I've not previously seen a more comprehensive summary of the key issues (with respect to Windows generally) in any one single place. Moreover, with this type of reaction over the closure of XP support breaking out everywhere, it seems to me that Microsoft would do well to seek out many of the players in these posts for their experienced opinion.

I sympathise with your post almost completely, its blueprint could be overlaid on mine and you'd find that the match would be uncannily close.

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RobHib

@LDS -- Re: XP Needs to Die

But I guess many like XP just because it's easier to run an illegal copy...

My-my, you really do have a chip on your shoulder, don't you? Do you work for or have shares in MS? Seems like it.

...And to answer your question about this same matter in a later post of yours, yes, the XPs are fully licensed, moreover, as with many organizations, we've more licences than copies of Windows in use.

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RobHib

@ Jonathan Richards 1 - - Re: XP will only be insecure if connected

"Procedure: Securely fasten CNC machine USB devices to 15 cm mild steel angle iron. Fixed."

Or as some do, remove USBs and floppies* altogether and replace them with a secure wireless/Bluetooth linked to a server that serves no other purpose (i.e.: not otherwise connected to the net). That way, there's a chain of command and QA is guaranteed.

___

* As many CNC-ers would know, floppies are still alive and well in this environment, even hard-sectored ones which I've otherwise not seen for several decades.

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RobHib

@ Tim Ryan -- Re: The facts of Life

"The issue of short lifecycles on IT products and long lifecycles on industrial hardware is not going away,..."

That you are using W2K and NT only proves the point. In my opinion, some of this could be fixed by legislation. Unless a sale contract specifically forbids it, all software and firmware would be deemed to have the same operational/service life as the rest of the equipment.

This would serve two purposes: (a) a manufacturer of xyz machine would be very wary in his choice of software--either the vendor has to be very reliable or xyz manufacturer cannot offload responsibly for software to that (or any) vendor, (thus having to guarantee software support for the duration himself), and (b) the issue of software longevity together with its 'fitness for purpose' would come under an intense spotlight. That alone, IMHO, would be a good thing.

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RobHib

paulmilbank - - Re: Meh

Support, whilst important, isn't the primary issue. Rather it's why so many are still using XP and have the need to so do.

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RobHib

@ Flocke Kroes -- Re: Wrong economics

The issues you raise further strengthen my conviction that Microsoft's ability to rule the roost is on the wane. For starters, the novelty of computers is long well over, now the old excuse 'the computer is down' no longer cuts it.

We now live in a much more computer-literate and pragmatic world where the B/S and hype Microsoft used to use when Windows first saw the light of day is no longer believed. I'm not sure what that ultimately means for users but I'd reckon MS will have to do considerable rethinking.

If I had a choice then I'd like to see at least one other company producing Win32/64 API compatible O/S products in competition with Microsoft. This, I'd reckon, would bring much needed innovation to the O/S market.

Unfortunately, there's nothing on the horizon that would fulfill this wish of which I'm aware.

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RobHib

@DougS -- Re: This is the fault of Trevor's clients

"Obviously if you bought a decade ago XP was the newest "standard" OS you could get, but that doesn't mean you should be stuck with XP for two decades if that's how long that CNC is able to remain in operation."

You're right in theory but in practice that's what often happens. As I said several days ago in a similar topic, the last thing say a manufacturing operation is concerned about is the fine makeup of the components in one single machine tool in its production line. So the 'if it ain't broke don't touch it' axiom reigns by default.

To the company executive who forks out the annual maintenance funds this axiom makes considerable sense (I know, I'm battle-scarred from many fights over maintenance funding).

In such arguments, techie purists like me lose out to the necessities of day-to-day operation and senior management pragmatism. And even for me, it's hard to justify updating the O/S in say video display signs and similar applications--after all what would be achieved in so doing?

As I've also previously pointed out, several months ago I toured a brand new factory operation of a large multinational manufacturer of industrial equipment. During the tour, even I was surprised to see that in this brand new plant every one of the computer terminals was running XP!

BTW, there was nothing shonky about XP's licensing, they had longstanding licence arrangements with MS that were simply propagated to the new plant (keep in mind that this plant came on-line in 2013).

The fact is--like it or not--XP ain't going away for a while yet.

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RobHib

Re: @A.C. -- Irrelevant Here.

They've taken a single-user OS and basically kludged it into a multi-user and/or multiprocessor OS, rather than building a true server OS from the ground up (looks like marketing won that battle, eh...).

Dead on, methinks.

Despite my love of Linux, the Win32/64 API is all pervasive so we have to live with it or somehow manage it. The real tragedy in all this is that there is no true competition for MS. As I've said elsewhere, it would be wonderful if say ReactOS were to offer an alternative clone of Windows but that project really hasn't gotten off the ground, so it's back to MS.

Where there's a monopoly and a captive market, one can't expect innovation to flourish, unfortunately.

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RobHib

@A.C. -- Re: Irrelevant Here.

However, even though me and my company have thrown £1000's at Microsoft, I am (by far) not their typical customer.

Precisely correct, and for that very reason Microsoft has failed.

For a given version number, every version of Windows, Home, Professional, Enterprise etc., is essentially identical--just appropriately nobbled to suit marketing requirements.

Most noticeably, there is NO technical version of Windows--a version not meant for general consumption but rather for developmental technical/scientific and or industrial use. A version in which 'Administrator' was actually an administrator with super-user status etc., or where I could select whatever specific GUI I wanted, or where I could bolt on another file system which doesn't belong to MS.

For example, one of my pet peeves, is not being able to hierarchically control or set file-locking. If I'm stupid or careless enough to accidentally unlock and delete the wrong file--a critical system file for instance and BSOD the machine then so be it. Past usual default warnings, I should be able to what I want with techie-specific O/S.

If proper techie versions of Windows were offered then many of the criticisms leveled at Microsoft would disappear.

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RobHib

@A.C. -- Re: @Geoff Campbell -- Irrelevant Here.

That MS missed so many opportunities to advance computing truly smarts.

Doesn't it?

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RobHib
Happy

@ Anonymous Bullard -- Re: @ Greg D--@Rob

Thanks for your adroit perception. Err, now you've listed 'em I see how truly impressive improvements have been. 'Tis wonder how so many of us failed to notice! ;-)

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RobHib
Mushroom

@ Greg D--Re: @Rob

Greg, the issues are truly prosaic when you analyse them.

1. Operating systems are still essentially file-loaders, once they were only file-loaders. They're just a means to an end, which is to make a computing system provide some useful function.

2. By putting between 100 and 1000 (use any reasonable guess) times the code necessary to load files, Microsoft has created a market for Windows per se--rather than the job it's supposed to do (right, most of us are 'suckers'--victims of Microsoft's marketing department).

That's to say, Microsoft has made what was a tool into something that's 'now a joy to behold' something which people want to own, tweak and care for, not to mention get teary-eyed and emotional over! Brilliant marketing, but rotten IT engineering!

3. Turning Windows into the behemoth bloatware that it is, has:

(a) Muddied the waters--for instance, an office worker who is allocated a PC where Solitaire has been removed is likely to cause and industrial incident or workplace disharmony (true, I've seen it happen).

(b) Windows security becomes a nightmare simply because Microsoft integrated Internet Explorer and Windows Explorer (and other stuff) into Windows. Moreover, security was made considerably worse by both IE and Windows Explorer sharing much of the same code!

(c) Because of all the unnecessary dross and concomitant issues, security, UI changes etc., becoming the centre of attention for nearly two decades, truly important functional improvements to the Windows O/S have not or still aren't being made. For example, with Vista, Microsoft aborted WinFS which would have truly revolutionized the Windows filing system.

(d) So Windows--even the very latest version--is left with a truly antiquated filing system and file structure--something it also shares in common with Linux, UNIX etc. This rotten decayed file structure just lingers like a rotten smell because Microsoft hasn't seen fit to upgrade Windows with a better one. And no one else will move to fix it either, as they cannot--unless MS does the same (exchanging files would be a potential nightmare).

Thus, for going on 40 years, via CP/M, et al, we've still this antiquated file structure with its horribly limited, primitive and dangerous* attributes (R, RO, date & time etc.), which intrinsically does not support integrated encapsulation, integrated metadata, file and metadata encryption, including machine/environment, user and program notes/scratch areas and file history, etc,. etc.

* Reduces data integrity.

Again why hasn't this been done? Because Microsoft and the vast majority of other commentards can't see the woods for the trees because of all the other useless distractions that everyone has been arguing over for decades.

4. That's only a tiny part of my argument, I've not time here to cover the many hundreds of other improvements that ought to be part of a modern operating system, except to say that Microsoft--through its sheer market presence--could have implement and had widely adopted, that is, if Microsoft were genuinely true to IT and Computing ideals per se.

Instead, the biggest IT company of all time is still groveling around in the mire of security patches, marketing fiascos--W8 etc., because it will not (and has continually refused over many years) to take simple measures such as providing the user with the ability to decouple many non-vital Windows subsystems from core ones (IE for instance).

It is not me or my organization that is holding IT and Computing development back by continuing to use XP, rather the complete antitheses is true.

Let's get it clear once and for all, we're still using XP ONLY because Microsoft has NOT progressed its operating systems to a point where it has become a necessity for us to so do. Doubling and tripling the size of Windows' installed code base, often for little more than some marketing or cosmetic reason DOES NOT constitute sufficient reason to upgrade (in fact the opposite is true).

Never let it be said that I'm holding back computing. Nothing could be further from the truth (and, unfortunately, I don't have such powers anyway).

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RobHib

@hplasm - - Re: WHY because Why waste that old Hardware, its bad for Planet Earth.

Right, Ubuntu, Windows, QNX etc., etc. all can control a lathe.

However, as I've said elsewhere, what happens in practice often turns out to be just implementing the prosaic. Technically better/more sophisticated/more secure systems are regularly passed over simply because there's more Windows programmers available and such.

That's the realistic fact of life in a modern IT environments, like it or not.

For example, I'd love to replace all our versions of Windows with an alternative Win-32 compatible API O/S but there's no alternatives available (other than say the free Windows clone ReactOS which is so flaky and its development so uncertain that one wouldn't be in one's right mind to even consider it.)

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RobHib

@A.C. - - Re: Logic doesn't enter into it

The thing that has always made MS a ton of money, office, still does so due to the lock in mentality that seems to afflict the institutional users with deep pockets.

Correct, same with your earlier point about MS's decision making processes. It's similar to the point I made about why many XP users had not upgraded--the fact is that the newer offerings were essentially sufficiently different to not warrant the effort of upgrading.

The mentality of institutional users is clearly a significant problem why products such as MS Office have reached a development plateau. To give a well known instance, industry pundits more experienced than me have suggested that word-processing has made little progress over the last decade because of MS Office stagnation and that this has been because institutional users have not demanded anything any better.

These examples might seems at odds with one another but in reality the same underlying issues are at work.

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RobHib

@Richard 12 -- Re: This is the fault of Trevor's clients

If you were starting to build a CNC machine a mere ten years ago, the only possible OS for the host control machine was Windows XP

Absolutely correct, or more likely (and more commonly) they've proprietary solutions, such as FANUC et al. Only days ago on a similar topic I mentioned that recently I came across an exotic 4-axis CNC machine worth just sub-$1M that dates from 2000 which uses Windows 2000. This machine has an estimated life of 25 years which means that its Windows 2000 installation could run until 2025.

(In industrial control and CNC, ideally more robust O/S environments (such as the well-tried QNX etc.,) ought to be used but in practice this has not been the case. Presumably because Windows programmers are a dime-a-dozen.)

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RobHib

@Geoff Campbell -- Re: @RobHib

Yeah, right. Hopefully by the next life I'll have learned to be less argumentative. ;-)

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RobHib

@LDS -- Re: Irrelevant Here.

It's you that understand nothing about IT, it's something more than what you do in your bedroom, so please, shut up, coward.

The old axiom says I shouldn't bother answering such provocation, but I'll add this: If you were actually aware of the exact extent of my involvement in IT and other hi-tech work, then you'd realise how foolish you look.

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BEHOLD the HOLY GRAIL of TECH: The REVERSIBLE USB plug

RobHib
FAIL

The standard USB socket is a bloody mess. I don't know how many times I've managed to put the plug connector into the socket upside-down.

Only last week, in low light, I plugged external storage into one of my PVRs and the plug was up-side-down. This broke the plastic tab inside the socket that supports the pins. A new socket is required.

How the USB socket ever got off the ground has to be a mystery. No one associated with its design would ever admit to it!

It remains to be seen if anything is actually improved in this next round.

Oh, BTW, how many people have plugged their USB plugs into the LAN socked without initially noticing it? Even the width is sufficiently similar for one not to notice if one is doing it by feel. The design truly is hopeless, and it's made considerably worse with poorly designed plugs as they're sufficiently flexible (inaccurate) so as to easily plug it in upside-down.

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Win XP usage down but not out as support cutoff deadline looms

RobHib
Windows

XP Stalwart!

Proudly an XP stalwart!

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Final Windows XP Patch Tuesday will plug Word RTF vuln

RobHib
Facepalm

Where have you been?

Where have you been in the last few days?

http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2014/04/02/the_mathematics_of_trust/

Make sure you read the posts.

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RobHib
Coat

Yawn.

Yawn.

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Driver drama delays deep desert XP upgrade

RobHib

More XP stories eh?

After yesterday monumental doing rounds in Trevor Pott's article How Microsoft can keep Win XP alive – and WHY: A real-world example I don't think I've the stamina to participate in another XP article quite so soon.

Nevertheless, reckon with XP's deadline looming, it's just the start of a whole raft of XP stuff.

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