Re: "Sent from my iPad"
Sent from my arm chair.
2646 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007
I am a Penguin, so my knowledge of Windows is thin and Macs even thinner. I keep seeing Windows PCs replaced because of software issues - the required software only runs on new versions of the OS, the new version of the OS will not work with old hardware. The hardware was fine. A quick Linux install, and ancient machines are useful. Resistance to Windows 10 may well push up the service life of Windows boxes.
From a Penguin's point of view, a desktop does not have a single age. The case might well be a relic from the nineties. There was a time for a Motherboard+CPU+RAM upgrades for speed. Later, a similar upgrade for power reduction or silence. Floppy disks barely got used because of network cables, and were retired in working order because of USB flash. Pre-SATA DVD players were retired when legacy PATA disappeared. After about a decade, the laser in a DVD player becomes too dim to play reliably. Keyboards and mice have a life time proportion to the cleanliness of the user. Disks got regular upgrades depending on bravery and the cost of restoring from backups, but SSDs are big and reliable these days. Properly specced power supplies last for ages (white box shippers liked to fit something with under 1W to spare so it would fry when you add a second hard disk). Monitors lasted until extra desk space was required, and I have not had a reason to refresh them since.
I am not sure how to compare the life time of a Penguin flavoured desktop PC to a Mac. Five years ago, I would have said replace the CPU/Motherboard/memory/SSD every five years, mostly to cut power consumption, and expect the rest to last a decade. The comparison has become irrelevant anyway. My final desktop was working fine when it was retired over two years ago because it's work could be done by £90/10W fist full of ARM (approximately equal to a Pi3 + SATA + GB ethernet + memory bandwidth). By the time that dies, a Raspbery Pi 6 will blend, and if I need something bigger, I will take a closer look at this.
Top of the list: Technical support cost. If it is £5/minute then service faults are a revenue stream and I will go elsewhere.
Next is cancellation: This must only depend on me doing things, like say fill in form, add cheque, post and cancel instructions to the bank. If it requires waiting for the ISP to do something then I will not sign up.
Terms and conditions are the ones on the sheet of paper I signed, not the ones on the web site that change with the wind.
My ISP got bonus points for defining contention ratio and telling what it would be. They even knew the difference between megabytes per second and a millibit.
Data caps are way down the list. If I could buy evidence of purchase for a film and download it then I would take an interest, but the only thing on offer is streaming. In the mean time, the post office is far more cost effective for high bandwidth using sneakernet.
One plan is to split the workload among servers with different operating systems in the hope that a single exploit will not work on both Linux and BSD.
A really quick look for market share shows nearly 2% of http servers running a BSD based OS. There is reason to hope that crackers will focus on the mass market.
Temperature is the average energy per degree of freedom (number of particles multiplied by the number of ways they can move). In a complete vacuum, there are zero particles, and the sum of their energy is zero. Ask your C compiler, and it will tell you 0./0. is not a number.
In real life, space is not a complete vacuum. Depending on where you are, the few particles could have a large or small energy. If you had a really good thermometer, and plenty of time for it to reach equilibrium with its surroundings it could read anything from 2.7 to several million Kelvin depending on where in space you put it.
Phrases like 'Icy cold of spaaaace' have been winding me up for years, and today I snapped because I had hoped for better science from The Register even in a really cool first of April article.
The Lawyer daft enough to agree to represent The SCO Group all the way to the supreme court in return for some shares in TSG is called David Boies. I have heard is does have a brain, even though he could not win a legal argument against a gardener. He must have caught on quite quickly because he shuffled the case off to some minions very early on. The minions have done really well considering they had no evidence to work with.
TSG is run by a bankruptcy trustee. The only way I know that Boies Schiller Flexner can escape before appealing to SCOTUS is to convince the trustee to let them off. Clearly it is cheaper to continue to fart about in Judge Nuffer's court. They should get some legal advice about splitting BSF into the profitable parts and the bit stuck with the TSG/IBM litigation, then bankrupt the useless bit. Perhaps, for reasons of judicial efficiency, they could get Judge Gross to assign the same trustee.
1) Starting with a factory acceptance test, and guarantying payment only after something passes said test should weed out all the suppliers expecting to piss away £24M before anyone asks them what they have achieved.
2) No source code, no money. I had hoped that after over three decades Microsoft's customers would understand the phrase 'lock in', but so far I have been disappointed.
The desktop is not dominant now, and non-gamers are noticing that it is more than they need. Smart phones out-number desktops. A modern smart phone is more than powerful enough for a word processor and the majority of business software. When connecting a phone to a monitor and keyboard become convenient, another chunk will vanish from the desktop market.
Microsoft saw this coming. They spent loads on a smart phone OS, a billion advertising it, over a billion propping up Nokia and more buying out the burned out shell. All because Microsoft knew that being dominant on the desktop will be the equivalent of being the dominant supplier of abacuses next decade. After their abysmal phone failure (35% market share -> 2%), Microsoft have switched to porting their products to Linux.
Next target: servers. The Google and Amazon account for a hefty chunk of the server market. They are designing their own silicon. I have seen plenty of rumours of an Amazon ARM or a Google ARM or Power. For now, I think these are big sticks to shake at Intel. Such sticks can be really effective: Itanium killed Alpha well before there was a functional Itanium CPU. ARM architecture could have made big changes to the server market that we do not see because we do not know the details of negotiations between Intel and Google/Amazon/Facebook.
Mid air retrieval has worked before. I could not find the mass of the film bucket from the Corona missions, but judging from the size, I would guess under 100kg. The plan for Vulcan is to separate the engines from the rocket (explosive bolts?) and just catch the engines. I could not find the mass of the engines, but about 2000kg each is a reasonable guess.
A Soyuz re-entry module is 2500kg, so a parachute is feasible. A CH-54B helicopter can carry 9000kg, so carrying both engines at once should be fine. Early designs of SpaceShipOne (1200kg) included mid-air recovery but that was considered too risky.
I would call mid air recovery of a pair of BE-4 engines at least as impressive as landing a Falcon 9 on an ocean barge, but not impossible.
The purpose of the watch is to prove that they have money to burn. It may sound beyond stupid to us, but some people genuinely need to prove they have money to burn. It makes a real difference to how they are treated. If the watch is useless after a few years then all the better, because wearing a new Apple watch shows they have money to burn regularly.
From a business point of few selling 10,000 hundred dollar watches for $1000 is just as good as selling 1,000,000 ninety dollar watches for $99. The only down side is a boat load of high margin products can be turned into landfill if one of the senior executives does a Ratner.
The watch business could wither and die and you would not notice the difference to Apple's profits. What matters is that about 20% of phone owners are happy to pay double for a phone if it has the Apple logo on it. With a determined effort, Wozniak could change that. I thought he knew better.
In short, Ex-Microsoftie Elop put a clause in his Nokia contract that got him a US$25million bonus if Microsoft bought Nokia. The problem was Nokia had twice the smart phone profits of Apple and Samsung combined. It took a combined Osborne and Ratner to trash Nokia to the point where Microsoft could afford it. The bonus was for a Microsoft buyout, not a sale to the highest bidder. Hence the switch to Windows Phone (Nokia factories could not manufacture the required hardware) and Elop's refusal to sell the award winning (iPhone beating!)N9 in large markets even though Nokia's idle factories could build it.
Elop sent Nokia into the biggest death spiral in business history, but still will not take credit for his outstanding achievement.
At first, I wondered what on Earth robot cars had to do with the budget. If the government want robot cars, then they can change to regulations to make them legal, and Google will turn up. If they are threatening to spend money on robot car software then I can see the project completing in the UK shortly after the NHS goes paperless - and at a similar cost.
Perhaps if the government throw enough money at robot cars then they will have to cancel some other over-priced software project like storing everyone's browser history.
In other news, DARPA is offering money to people who can turn consumer electronics into improvised weapons.
... doesn't matter to Microsoft.
Google has more market share than Microsoft, and Apple has more revenue. Google works giving things away for free and selling adds. Apple sells an expensive walled garden. Microsoft have decided to copy Google and Apple. bazza and a million other previously content Windows users are now third in the queue at best (behind advertisers and commercial licensing) when it comes to what Windows N+1 will do.
Ranting isn't going to fix anything. What you can do is make purchase searches on Amazon (already common) and information searches on Wakipedia (probably the first useful link in search results anyway). If you take the users from Google/Bing, then the advertising revenue will wander off and Microsoft will have to rethink where their money will come from.
If you have a problem with LibreOffice, then fix it - you have the source code and a license to use it. Personally, I use reportlab+python, but each to his own.
CLI: write script, debug script, document script.
GUI: click on things until it works. Attempt to document what you remember of the correct sequence of clicks missing out the miss-steps made while learning the GUI interface.
Rebuild after disaster:
CLI: type one word and press enter.
GUI: One of the miss-steps you didn't document is required to get the right option to appear on the GUI. Someone re-organised the GUI to make it more intuitive and all your notes are now useless. Fart about for ten minutes until you think you got it right then find out next week what you got wrong.
With practice, you might restore one service with a dozen clicks on a GUI. A dozen services means 144 clicks - or a script with twelve words in it. There are tasks that are better handled by a GUI - like copping one image. As soon as you have to do something repeatedly, (or if someone else may have to do it after you leave) the CLI is the right choice and anyone who says GUI can suffer the death of a thousand clicks.
What is better: 1,000 software patents rubber stamped per day or one software patent permanently rejected per month?
I applaud Battistelli and the union leaders finally doing something useful about the vast number of troll patents approved each day. Lets hope they can keep this up for at least a year.
The FTC started looking at Microsoft's anti-competitive activities on 1991, and closed the investigation in 1993 without taking action. In 1993 the DOJ started investigating, and reached a settlement with Microsoft in 1994, which Microsoft promptly broke when they required all customers to pay for IE bundled with new computers whether they wanted it or not. The trial began in 1998. Microsoft were found guilty of using the monopoly in operating systems to crush competitors, and of tying. The court sentenced Microsoft to be broken into two (an OS company and an applications company) in 2000. In 2001 Microsoft wrote their own sentence which was accepted by the DOJ in 2002, and allowed Microsoft to continue tying.
If Microsoft do crush non-Microsoft Windows App stores, then I fully expect the FTC and DOJ to huff and puff for another decade and achieve nothing.
The new law is over 500 pages long. I have no idea how much tax law the UK has, but I doubt that there is a shortage. The new law is vague. The only practical solution is to negotiate an agreement with a tax man. In a banana republic, this would result in a poor government and rich tax men. I would expect that Google's accountants are not dim, and that they bought a piece of paper that says they have paid all the required back taxes in full.
The fun comes when the government tries to explain why that piece of paper is worthless, and why Google should buy another piece of paper.
It didn't look particularly like Z80 or 68000. It screamed 6502 to me.
I regret that I do not have to source code to the most horrible bug I have ever found. The project involved using DSPs to send position data regularly by radio (pre-GSM), but with each radio transmitting at a different time. I had time from GPS, so sync was easy. Apart from a little assembly language for the signal processing, the bulk of the code was in C. The kit worked fine in the office. Hours of testing with no problems at all. On the next day, I took it to the customer for a demonstration, and the kit sat there doing nothing.
After some frantic bug hunting I discovered the fault was in the C library for the DSP. The 32-bit add function was made out of a pair of _signed_ 16 bit shifted add instructions. The DSP was massively optimised for 16 bit variables (and fixed point arithmetic). CHAR_MAX was 32767 (sizeof(char)==1 by definition in C). As a result, almost all of my C code used 16-bit (int) variables and long int was only ever used for the time. During testing, bit 15 was zero, but the demonstration was at a time when bit 15 was 1.
The easy bit was fixing the code during the customer's lunch break. The difficult bit was explaining what I had fixed.
Busemann's biplane design created shock waves on the leading edges and anti-shock waves where the wing thickness reduced. The idea was that the shock waves from each wing would hit the anti shock wave form the other wing - when the plane was going at precisely the right speed. The symmetry of the design ensured no sonic boom. Unfortunately that symmetry also meant the lift was zero. Not a little lift or low lift, but precisely zero lift. Unless the biplane has more buoyancy than mass it isn't going to fly.
The article My-Handle pointed at did not mention how they solved this problem. Does anyone know?
The reason for the upgrade from Pi1 to Pi2: The usual increases in speed and decreases in power, size and cost with time in electronics allowed a faster CPU and more RAM in the same size without increasing the cost. As a 'bonus', the instruction set for the new CPU matched the one Microsoft supports, so Microsoft could, with a little effort, trim down version of their OS to fit the memory and speed constraints of a Pi2.
Precisely why Microsoft bothered is not clear to me. I could buy a Windows PC, buy some Microsoft development tools, learn how to use them, create something to run on a Windows Pi, then read through the huge license agreements to see if I can distribute the result, and hope that Microsoft's tools will still be maintained at an reasonable fee in five years time. On the other hand, I can use all the tools I am familiar with for free, have confidence that they will be maintained and free for at least a decade, I can distribute my work without fear that a part of it will only be available from a monopoly at an ever increasing price, and I get a full OS tested on millions of servers, not some cut down thing tested almost once by a pair of Microsoft employees.
The reason for the Pi2 to Pi3 upgrade is precisely the same as last time - newer, better kit was available without increasing the cost. Pi3 supports the same instruction set as Pi2 and a 64bit instruction set. Microsoft's IoT for Pi2 should work with little or no modification on a Pi3.
Microsoft are perfectly welcome to distribute an OS for Pi3, or any other computer they want. The fun thing about a Pi, and many other small cheap computers is that they do not come with bundled storage or operating systems. The buyers get to make their own choices. This is a new experience for Microsoft, and I for one welcome them to the twenty first century and wish them luck catching up.
Independent news took a severe beating when people stopped paying for it. Hands up all those who paid to read news on The Register. The Trump 'solution' is to make vague threats against Amazon and Bezos. [I think a more productive solution would be to convince people to pay for their news. It wouldn't work because "Who's boinking who" would get a ton of cash for fictional articles, but I have yet to see a better idea.]
If Trump gets nominated and elected (or wins as an independent), he becomes commander in chief of the US military. In theory he cannot declare a war on Bezos - that power remains with congress, but this has not stopped other presidents. He can order troops to surround Bezos for up to 60 days. He can promise a presidential pardon to the person who murders Bezos. He cannot create a new law directly: He can ask/pay a congressman to introduce his law. Then he has to get/buy enough votes to have to law passed, and finally the law will probably get struck down if it is not constitutional. In theory, he cannot buy congressmen with the military budget because that requires congressional approval (there could be a design flaw in the US system of checks and balances here). Finally Trump can appoint federal officials. Bezos could be investigated by the IRS and the Antitrust Division while getting raided daily by the ATF. President Trump could cause 'such trouble' for Jeff Bezos, but I am not convinced this will cause fair and honest newspapers, TV and internet news any better than asking people to pay for proper investigative reporting.
In real life, Trump talks to his faction, and gets hardly any votes from the other Republican factions. Trump has got this far because the other factions all had multiple candidates splitting the vote. Trump is now down to four opponents and two of those will be gone soon. His loyal supporters are not enough to get him nominated in a three way split. His next step to being nominated has to be a completely new message that appeals to at least two factions - and to find a really good excuse to avoid Megyn Kelly. If he does not get nominated, Trump is sufficiently big headed to run as an independent.
Although Trump is Hillary's dream opponent (doubly so as an independent), I doubt they are working together because Trump would never make a deal where he gets second place.
Over 500 pages of new rules because politicians thought making noises about Google's tax bill would get votes. The new rules are a load of vague waffle, and the only way to come up with a number is to discuss it with HMRC until you reach some sort of agreement. If I wanted to create a tax law to increase bribery and corruption, a weighty tome of vague waffle sounds perfect.
Back in the dawn of time, true was an empty file. The OS interpreted it is 'do nothing', which it was always able to do, and returned success. Then there were lawyers who ordered everything to have a copyright notice. You can see the results here. Note that the AT&T version does not start by identifying the required interpreter. The OS sees the file is not empty, so clearly it has to do something, but has no idea what it is. As the OS cannot execute AT&T's true, it returns failure!
Sun licensed AT&T true (anyone know how much true costs?), and fixed the bug for Solaris.
It could be worse: man echo.
Employees of IBM wrote design documents. Different employees of IBM coded the designs into AIX*. Yet more employees of IBM coded the designs into Linux. According to TSG*, adding code to AIX makes that code property of TSG and therefore TSG own the unrelated code that performs the same function in Linux.
There is also STREAMS (Unix networking - almost everyone uses the BSD flavour instead), which was contributed for the Linux kernel by Caldera (now Tarantella?). The kernel maintainers rejected the contribution because it was slower than the existing networking code. Caldera distributed their own version of Linux with STREAMS, with a GPL license. According to TSG, Linux users need to buy another licence for STREAMS code they could use for free but have not bothered to download.
*TSG: The SCO Group - not The Santa Cruz Operation.
*AIX: IBM's OS which historically is descended from AT&T->USL->Novell Unix.
Although TSG claim to have bought the copyright to Unix source code, they lost that argument in court years ago because Novell never sold it to them, and when TSG phoned up random employees at Novell, none of them accidently hinted that the copyrights might have transferred. TSG actually bought the right to collect license fees on behalf of Novell (now bought out by Attachmate). TSG were supposed to send 100% of Novell's license fees to Novell, and Novell would pay TSG a commission. TSG stopped handing over Novell's money and spent in on suing Novell's customers. TSG did not buy the right to sue over Unix copyrights, and were instructed to stop by Novell. Again, the courts found in Novell's favour and TSG immediately filed for protection from its creditors (chapter 11 bankruptcy).
TSG is now run by a bankruptcy court who have done an excellent job of converting TSG's assets into bankruptcy documents. The bankruptcy court sold something to a company who think they bought TSG's Unix source code. I am sure that court will happily sell similar blank disks to anyone fool enough to give them money.
"Akin to real life, when looking for car keys. If they are on the desk right in front of me, I don't spot them."
Hold some imaginary car keys, insert into an imaginary lock and twist. The real car keys will magically appear. This trick will work for any distinctive tool that you have recently seen without noticing.
keyboard: /dev/input/event$(grep -l keyboard /sys/class/input/input*/name | tr -d a-z/)
For those not technical enough to understand, the names of all the input devices (power botton, lid switch, ...) are available in pseudo files. I used grep to find which file is the keyboard and tr to extract the device number so I could generate the file name of the number of the keyboard device (In real life I would use the head command to pick out the first keyboard).
Unix has plenty of tools to fiddle with text files. When the kernel presents information as a text file people with a minimal understanding of technology immediately get a whole tool box full of toys to do whatever they want with that information without having to create one-off applications for every simple task.
Even Windows has (had?) something of the kind. A create a file called PRN in any directory and write some text to it, and it comes out the printer. You can do similar things with CON (the console) and AUX (the serial port). (I have not used Windows this millennium, so I do not know if these security disasters are still alive.)
A patch was proposed as a joke get the driver in the Linux kernel sources to match the behaviour of the FTDI driver. That patch was not included, but a patch to detect and use bricked chips was included.
FTDI distribute binary drivers for Linux. If somebody actually uses those drivers and got burned it did not cause headline news on the internet.
The license for the FTDI driver includes a clause saying the user gives permission for the driver to break counterfeit chips. IANAL, so I do not know if it proects them from the computer fraud and abuse act. (Note to Windows users: read the EULA. If it is 5000 pages long, you can be certain 4900 or those pages are there to hide something you will regret later.)
Last time alternative actions FTDI could have taken were proposed that did not take reality into account. FTDI chips keep there USB product ID in a mask ROM. The counterfeits keep them in EEPROM. To spot the difference, you have to command the chip to write to the EEPROM. This does nothing to the genuine chip, but EEPROM can only survive a limited number of erase/write cycles. At this point, you have to decide what to do. You could write FTDI's numbers back again, and after about half a million reboots the EEPROM will not be capable of storing some product IDs. You could leave a predictable number in there, and the device will work with the open source Linux driver. The new plan appears to be to leave a random number behind. What Windows (or Linux) will do next will depend on if the new numbers match a device known to the operating system.
'I, Robot' (the book) is a collection of short stories. There are more stories in the same setting in 'The Rest of the Robots'. Towards the end, the robots take over - not in an action packed bloody revolution, but so subtly that only about two people notice (IIRC one of them is Dr Susan Calvin). Hollywood make action movies because they are profitable. If you are one of those weirdos who like fiction that gives you something to think about, read a book. I enjoy both types of entertainment, and luckily the film and the short stories are so dissimilar that neither is a spoiler for the other.
'Blade Runner' and 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' are also massively different. I prefer the film, but the book does explain why Tyrell has an owl.
After the above, criticising users for not thinking is a little mean, but after: "Mouse not detected. Click here to change" the word hypocrisy springs to mind. Imagine how much users would laugh at us if someone programmed computers to put the clocks back one hour on the last Sunday in October at 1:00am _local_ time.
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