* Posts by Deryk Barker

109 posts • joined 17 Jan 2008


Got some broken tech? Super Cali's trinket fix-it law brought into focus

Deryk Barker

Re: "Super Cali makes a fix-it law come into focus"

Well, um-tiddle-iddle-iddle, um-tiddle-eye

Facebook confesses: Facebook is bad for you

Deryk Barker

Does FB's munificence never end?

All this and they gave us Donald Trump too?

Multics resurrected: Proto-Unix now runs on Raspberry Pi or x86

Deryk Barker

Re: Now I wonder when someoen will port the ICL 2900 architecture and George 3


George 3 ran on 1900 machine, the 2900s ran VME/B (and wasn't there a smaller VME/K?)

The ICL people visited the Multics people during the design phase, but IIRC the Multics people couldn't understand why the ICL people felt that 32 rings were needed. Multics had originally had 64 on the GE-645, but this was reduced to 8 on the 6180 - and only rings 0,1, 4 and 5 were actually used initially although later on something (was it forum?) ran in ring 2 and some of the UK Rainbow book networking software ran in ring 3 (I know this for certain, as I wrote a call gate for the latter). Rings 6 and 7 were sometimes referred to as "outer darkness" as the standard software was not accessible in those rings.

Of course, the 2900 could emulate the 1900. Indeed, in the early 1980s my wife encountered, at BT in South Wales, the "orange Leos" which were ICL 2900s running the 1900 emulator running the System-4 emulator running the LEO emulator running LEO programs for which they no longer had source code.

Deryk Barker

Re: There were five in the UK..

There were also two non-academic systems: STC (Standard Telephones and Cables) and the RAE (Royal Aircraft Establishment).

The RAE site was the first MLS (Multi-Level Secure) computer system in the UK, as Multics had just been certified to Orange Book B2 level. I constructed the security trials which we conducted for the RAE as part of the acceptance testing.

If I told you any more, I'd have to kill you...

Deryk Barker

Re: Anything we should steal ? - Definitely

Multics was 98% PL/1, although there was a cut-down version used early on before the full-blown called EPL (Early PL/1). The remaining 2% was in ALM (Assembler Language for Multics).

Deryk Barker

All Multics sites had the source code.

As somebody has pointed out, it was common for mainframes to come with source: I also worked on a Honeywell GOCS-3 system for some years and we had the source to that, too.

Deryk Barker

In fact the hardware story is somewhat more complex.

GE originally produced the 635 and its OS GECOS-3 in the early 1960s. When MIT were looking to create their new OS they looked around for hardware and GE were prepared to custom-build a processor with segmentation and paging hardware as required; IBM were not.

Hence the GE-645, which was the first Multics CPU.

Later, GE developed the 6000 series to run GECOS: several models including 6050, 6060, 6070 and 6080 AIR; the "even numbered" ones having an extended instruction set - EIS - for commercial programming: it had instructions like MVNE (Move Numeric Edited) which could take a binary value and format as ASCII, complete with currency symbol, commas for thousands, decimal places and check suppression characters - RISC it was not.

But the 6000 series did not have the segmentation and paging hardware necessary for Multics; moreoever, among other recommendations of the USAF Tiger Team looking at Multics security, was that the rings should be implemented in hardware, rather than in software as on the 645.

Enter the 6180, which had the segmentation and paging hardware AND hardware rings (8 as opposed to the 64 on the 645) and fixed-size pages.

GE sold their computer business to Honeywell around 1971, later Multics processors were the Level 68 and DPS-8/70M.

It was only internal politics within Honeywell which killed Multics; by 1984 they had also acquired Xerox's computer business, so now found themselves with 3 mainframe OS's: GCOS (the E was dropped as part of the agreement with GE, although much of the documentation kept it for some time), Multics and CP-6 (originally CP-V when owned by Xerox).

I'm not sure about the 70s, but by 1980, when I began working on Multics there certainly was a COBOL compiler (I wrote an emacs programming mode for it for a UK customer) and quite a bit of commercial software, including one of the first relational database systems, MRDS.

I still miss Multics.

Samizdat no more: Old Unix source code opened for study

Deryk Barker

But let us not forget

An even more important, groundbreaking OS - Multics.

Its source code was made available online some years back at MIT: http://web.mit.edu/multics-history/

Mud sticks: Microsoft, Windows 10 and reputational damage

Deryk Barker

Re: Don't blame users for the UI

"MS first started pissing me off when they introduced the Ribbon UI."

It took you that long?

MS first pissed me off when I had to reinstall Windows 3.something (0? 1?) over 20 times. Started running linux in my office in 1993 and have never looked back. Now every system in my house - including the router, video and music streamers and my wife's destop and laptop machines, runs some version of linux.

Thought I might give MS another chance back in 2007 when the college I taught at supplied me with a new HP laptop with Vista preinstalled.

Firstly I thought I'd dual boot in case I needed to show my students anything windows-ish.

Fortunately (!?) Vista was the first version of Windows which could resize its partitions, so...let the program calculate the minimum size it could resize to then feed in that number.

Only to be told it wasn't big enough....

Last straw was the fact the Vista absolutely refused to see my USB mouse. Even tried rebooting with it connected. Zip. I mean USB was only about a decade old at that point.

Bye bye Vista...

BTW I turned 65 last year and yes, I have a beard...

Remember Netbooks? Windows 10 makes them good again!

Deryk Barker

Re: Pah!

Yup, my HP and my wife's Compaq netbooks are both happily running LXLE linux.

Learn you Func Prog on five minute quick!

Deryk Barker

Re: It's the see-saw

"When I first learned programming, functional programming was all there was: input-process-output, complete with GOTOs and big runs of spaghetti (no sauce, alas)."

Sorry you fail - that is nothing whatsoever like FP.

Deryk Barker

Re: Noughts & crosses in Miranda

What the hell is the matter with you people? I LIKED Miranda - IIRC it was invented by David Turner at UKC and was - uncommon in the 1980s - lazily evaluated.

Which reminds me, did lazy evaluation get a mention in the article? I don't remember it.

Deryk Barker

Re: Rule 3: Functions should be curried.

Is standard SQL Turing-complete? I recall reading that it is not, but certainly wouldn't stake my life - or anyone else's - on it.

Deryk Barker

Re: Rule 1

"The clue to assigning value(s) to variables is in the name..."

Except that to a mathematician programmers have completely corrupted the meaning of the word "variable"; the mere sight of a statement like

x = x + 1

is enough to make them go and lie down in a dark room.

Deryk Barker

Re: Well, obviously ...

It's probably been a decade since I last used/taught C++, but as I recall the *only* difference between a struct and a class (apart from spelling) is that the default visibility for class members is private and for struct members it's public.

C++, I don't miss it at all...

Deryk Barker

Re: oh god yes

The old TECO editor was even better, (just about) every key on the keyboard did SOMETHING.

We used to play a game of "how much will your initials do" in TECO.

NASA palms off blunder-bot Valkyrie for top US universities to fix

Deryk Barker

You do realise?

"Northeastern University in Boston and MIT in Massachusetts"

Boston is in Massachusetts...MIT is in Cambridge, Mass.

iPad data entry errors caused plane to strike runway during takeoff

Deryk Barker

What kind of error?

Typing 76,400 instead of 66,400 is not a transposition error. That would, for example, be 64,600.

Or were the quotes around "transposition error" sarcastic?

In which case I invoke Poe's Law.

Doctor Who's good/bad duality, war futility tale in The Zygon Inversion fails to fizz

Deryk Barker


The name is spelled Petronella not Petranella.

10 seconds of googling would have revealed this.

Deryk Barker

Re: Re Parachutes

"The plotline is totally unrealistic "

Unlike the notion of a 1200-year-old travelling in time and space in a police box?

One Bitcoin or lose your data, hacked Linux sysadmins told

Deryk Barker

Re: Well,

When the story broke yesterday the line was that the the infection vector was unknown but thought to be via ssh.

Now the claim is that it is the Magento CMS.

What I'd like to see is some way of detecting it that doesn't involve subscribing to Dr.Web's antivirus.

'T-shaped' developers are the new normal

Deryk Barker

Ah buzzwords, what would the industry do without them?

Next year's Windows 10 auto-upgrade is MSFT's worst idea since Vista

Deryk Barker

1. Define "still not quite there".

2. The buttons are in different places in different desktops (KDE, XFCE, Unity and the rest). And most DEs allow you to decide where to place them.

3. Flash is still available for linux.

4. You clearly don't know what you're talking about or

5. You work for MS.

Think Fortran, assembly language programming is boring and useless? Tell that to the NASA Voyager team

Deryk Barker

Re: For which chipset?

WTF is a "nibble-serial CPU"??

We suck? No, James Dyson. It is you who suck – Bosch and Siemens

Deryk Barker

Re: Bah!

Mrs Git - would that be "Dreary Fat Boring Old"? and your children "Dirty Lying Little Two-Faced", "Ghastly Spotty Cross-Eyed" and "Ghastly Spotty Horrible Vicious Little"?


Deryk Barker

"These vacuums have a special 'don't suck much if you are vacuuming something clean' mode"

I'd prefer an indicator which said "this is already clean, you don't need to hoover it".

PHONE me if you feel DIRTY: Yanks and 'Nadians wave bye-bye to magstripe

Deryk Barker

I think you mean Steve Reich

It was Reich who used two very-slightly-out-of-sync tape loops in his 1965 piece "It's Gonna Rain".

Eno claims to have been involved with the Scratch Orchestra (I don't ever remember him performing, but it was over 40 year ago) in which case he would *definitely* haveknow about Riley, Reich and, with a bit of work back then, Glass.

I am unaware of any Cage work using tape loops.

Deryk Barker



The proper abbreviation for Canadians is Canucks.

This Canuck is seriously offended by your headline writer's - what? - insensitivity? ignorance? stupidity? all of the above?

I realise the Reg has a thing for "amusing" headlines - this wasn't one of them.

4K catches fire with OTT streamers, while broadcasters burn

Deryk Barker

Ho hum

Video quality keeps improving, sound quality keeps getting worse.

And the content?

Seriously not worth the extra, it's simply a way for the tv manufacturers to persuade the gullible to fork out more cash.

Is the world ready for a Raspberry Pi-powered Lego Babbage Engine?

Deryk Barker

Oh no!

Another promulgator of the Ada myth.

Read Doron Swade's The Difference Engine.

If you want the world's first actual (as opposed to imagined) female programmer then Grace Hopper is your woman.

Ada was a legend in her own mind and nutty as a fruitcake.

The Steve Jobs of supercomputers: We remember Seymour Cray

Deryk Barker

Pity that

The article seemed to focus on the wiring and cooling of the CDC6600.

What still makes that machine so important is the architectural features - it was the first superscalar machine and in order to support multiple in-execution instructions he invented scoreboarding, techniques still in use today.

Devious Davros, tricksy Missy and Dalek Clara delight in The Witch's Familiar

Deryk Barker

Re: Hang on...

Who is holding the gun to your head and forcing you to watch?

To misquote Alfred Hitchcock, it's only a tv show Ingrid.

Deryk Barker

Re: Pew pew!!

So how DID he get Clara disconnected from the Dalek?

Or did I disobey, blink and miss it?

Bletchley Park remembers 'forgotten genius' Gordon Welchman

Deryk Barker


Is there a photo of Colossus attached to this story? AFAIK Welchman worked exclusively on Enigma.

The confusion of Enigma/Fish Bombe/Colossus is had enough already without you adding to it.

Canadians taking to spying on their spies

Deryk Barker

Re: I hope that we're watching this in the States

Oh, but they are NOTHING compared to the comments made by US visitors to Canada.

I live in Victoria, 1.5 hour ferry ride from Washington State. We are, of course, used to Americans thinking it's OK to bring RVs full of guns up here - "I haven't broken any American laws" one would-be importer remarked - but overall, well...

In front of our parliament buildings is a statue with the legend "Captain George Vancouver, RN".

"Gee, I didn't know he was a registered nurse" one American was heard to observe.

You have to explain to them that, no, that can't use US stamps on their postcards home.

But my favourites are the ones who ask for directions to the bridge back to the mainland.

"There isn't one"

"Yes there is, we drove over it".

"No, that must have been the ferry"

And so it goes.

A nation with a collective IQ in single digits.

Deryk Barker

Re: Groundswell

"My impression at the moment is that the Liberals are the equivalent of the left, NDP the center and the Conservatives are the right."

The NDP are less rightwing than the Liberals, I wouldn't call either of them particularly left, although the NDP is more so than the Liberals.

Harper's Conservatives are, as the old saying goes, somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan.

Apple Music available on Sonos by end of this year

Deryk Barker


Yes, but Sonos doesn't even support 24/96.

Watch out Sonos! Here's the second coming of Yamaha MusicCast

Deryk Barker

Re: Dreams

I would say Sonos still has a way to go before it matches the - alas discontinued - Squeezeboxes, which can play 24/96 audio, which Sonos cannot.

Deryk Barker

Re: Good luck to Yamaha with this

"plus nearly every song in the 90s seemed to be using DX bass sound."

And that's a good thing?

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

Deryk Barker


My problem with this is that GPS systems are still not 100% accurate. Like the one which insisted - although I had put the correct street address in - in sending me to the back of Exeter Hospital, where there was no public parking. I had to drive for several minutes to find the actual entrance. How would the self-driving car cope with this?

Want Edward Snowden pardoned? You're in the minority, say pollsters

Deryk Barker

Re: If you only watch Faux News and CNN....

"Side Two: if we don't, terrorists will kill your children...."

Hah! Fooled them - I don't have any children.

Today's smart home devices are too dumb to succeed

Deryk Barker

I refuse

to have anything to do with any system/device that thinks it knows better than I do.

This is why I will never use any product from Apple.

Apple and Samsung are plotting to KILL OFF the SIM CARD - report

Deryk Barker

Re: What an embarrassment of knee-jerk reactions

"The Apple SIM gives you the flexibility to choose from a variety of short-term plans from select carriers in the U.S. and UK right on your iPad."

"Select carriers" is the key phrase here and your ignoring it undermines your argument.

Deryk Barker

If Apple are for it

I'm against it.

Run Windows 10 on your existing PC you say, Microsoft? Hmmm.

Deryk Barker

Re: Ha

Actually, linux hardware support is much better than windows. And older hardware is far more likely to be supported.

Even newer hardware: back in the days of Vista my college leased a whole bunch of HP laptops with it installed.

Vista would not even see a USB mouse. USB in 2008?????

Linux has had the edge over windows in terms of hardware support for several years now.

We tried using Windows 10 for real work and ... oh, the horror

Deryk Barker

This simply reinforces the decision I made 20 years ago to jump ship to linux.

Doctor Who and the Dalek: 10-year-old tests BBC programming game

Deryk Barker

"He’s a VB programmer (be gentle, he’s only 10), which is part of the problem schools face in teaching coding; they are supposed to teaching coding before the idea of a variable has appeared in maths. "

Given that many people coming to programming from a mathematical background have considerable difficulty with the concept of variables, as they are quite different (in mathematics X = X + 1 is meaningless for example) I'm not totally convinced this is such a big deal.

However, primary teachers teaching coding worries me...

Canuck chump cuffed over helium balloon flying chair stunt

Deryk Barker

Re: Go Calgary!

You beat me to it.

Linux on the desktop is so hot there's now a fight over it

Deryk Barker

Oh yes, let's run the stable, reasonably secure OS in a virtual machine under the control of an unstable insecure OS.

No ta.

Deryk Barker

Re: Linux Desktops?

"All businesses are emailing Word and Excel docs, along with Outlook appointment notifications, between each other, on a daily basis."

But not the UK government? Or the city of Munich, or......


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