* Posts by Kristian Walsh

1341 posts • joined 10 Apr 2007

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Now Microsoft ports Windows 10, Linux to homegrown CPU design

Kristian Walsh
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Re: I'm sick to the back teeth of the pack of morons...

I stopped reading at the dollar sign. Was the rest of it any good?

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Kristian Walsh
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Transmeta...

Transmeta failed because they couldn't deliver the cost/performance ratio that they'd promised to customers. Toshiba (it was Toshiba, not Sony) cancelled that laptop product because they couldn't rely on Transmeta delivering the CPUs for it. Intel didn't impede them, because Intel didn't have to - they messed up themselves.

Intel pretty much ignored Transmeta - at this time, it was capturing Apple's business from Motorola and IBM: getting the last remaining non-Intel PC maker on board was something that was much more valuable to Intel.

And in any case, Intel's bullying isn't Microsoft's. If the two companies were so joined at the hip as you imply, then Microsoft would not have supported AMD's 64-bit Opteron chips at their launch back in 2003, and Opteron competed with Intel much more directly than Transmeta did.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: The processor really shouldn't matter to applications these days.

A problem particular to Linux is that the system-call numbers are different on different architectures (notably between x86 32-bit and 64-bit). I'm sure it's not an unsurmountable issue, but fixing it does require the final-stage compiler to know a little more about the bitcode than a straight compiler would.

The reason why adoption would be slow is that storage space is cheap, and posting binaries allows the maintainers to keep compatibility promises: basically if there's an ARM binary up, you can be sure the maintainer has at least run the package on ARM. Right now, there are only three or four major architectures in use (which three or four depends on whether the package is used in embedded or server/desktop applications), so it's not too much hassle for a package maintainer to build 3 versions of a package and post them to a repo. The alternative saves a little time, but then the maintainer will have to deal with the possibility of someone using their package on an architecture they've never built it on themselves.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: GIGO

Frankly, I've no idea, nor any connection to Microsoft except that I use their OS and software sometimes (I am actually writing this on a Mac, though), but I'm sick to the back teeth of the pack of morons that come out to comment every time an article about Microsoft is published here.

This article describes something that is a genuinely interesting development, and normally you'd expect some of the more knowledgeable commenters to chip in with additional information or informed critique. But, because it's something that Microsoft has developed, the comments have immediately been hijacked by the crack band of fucking idiots who, labouring under the misapprehension that their thousand or so prior posts on the subject were insufficient to convince the world that they don't like Microsoft, feel it necessary to enter the breach, pausing only to switch off their forebrain on the way...

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: It's been a long time..

Hating on Comic Sans is a strong indicator of someone who knows a little, but not very much more, about typography, so the comparison is valid.

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Microsoft says Windows 10 April update is fit for business rollout

Kristian Walsh
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@Bavaria Blu Re: best Windows ever

perhaps there is a keyboard shortcut to switch between extend and only on 1 screen?

There is. Windows+P cycles between "main display only", "extend desktop", "mirror displays" and "external displays only"

And, while I'm here: you can use Shift+Windows+CursorLeft and Shift+Windows+CursorRight to move the currently-focussed window between screens, and Windows+CursorUp to maximise the current window to full screen size.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: Lies, lies and statistics

While I entirely agree with your general point about users not contacting software companies for support, it's not like these support options are hidden from them:

Google "Microsoft customer support", click the link to support.microsoft.com. Either of the top two links from my results brings you there. From there, it's pretty quick to get to an IM chat with a support rep.

Hardly an "extreme effort".

That said, my personal experience (as well as that of friends who write consumer software) is that customers are very reluctant to directly engage with the publisher/author. I once had a small mobile app with a couple of thousand customers, and I'd see people bitching on Twitter about problems or bugs, when they'd never contacted me with their question first (which they could also have done via Twitter by tapping a button right there in the app)

I had to use MS support on one occasion, to fix a licence. It was all done through IM, the rep was quick on the uptake, diagnosed the issue and then (after a bit of a 2FA to-and-fro to verify that he was actually from Microsoft, rather than some scammer) he remotely fixed it. Can't fault it, really. This is on the standard Home version of Windows, and as I've only been a Windows user since about 2012 (was exclusively MacOS and Linux until then), I'm not relying on some long-standing knowledge here.

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Judge on Microsoft gender discrimination case finds 'flaw' in class grouping argument

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Thorny issue to be sure, but . . .

Do not confuse generalities with specifics. This is a case brought by women working in the same roles as male colleagues. The women involved asserted that for the same effort in meeting or exceeding project goals, they were not rewarded as well as their male counterparts. Because it's framed in terms of what should be measurable goals, rather than working hours or leave, the claim will account for differences of short-hours working, family leave or maternity (and men take parental leave too these days)

The number of hours you spend at work doesn't matter - it's what you deliver. The US has this stupid face-time culture that equates presence in the office with "working", when most of that extended day is spent just dicking around. If the long hours were really spent working, there wouldn't be so many kids' toys scattered around tech companies. Maybe practices have changed, but I still write code with a keyboard, not with a Nerf gun, and I prefer to work in an office, not some weird frat-house for man-children. (A local tech business installed a slide in their office... an actual funfair-style slide... words fail me)

If it helps to get over a thinking block, try to think of the claim this way: those managers who evaluated staff tended to favour their pals when performing evaluations. Now, consider that as the managers themselves were male, those friends were more likely to be male than female. Outcome: female workers meeting the same standard of performance were less likely to be advanced than male workers at that standard.

(Yes, the reverse occurs in fields where women outnumber men. No, it's not okay there either).

Nonetheless, it looks like their lawyer has scuppered the whole thing: by allowing that there was no oversight or control, it's really hard to then construct a solid argument that there was concerted practice of discriminating against women.

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Remember that $5,000 you spent on Tesla's Autopilot and then sued when it didn't deliver? We have good news...

Kristian Walsh
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More of a Barnum than a Brunel...

...is Elon.

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The future of radio may well be digital, but it won't survive on DAB

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Lucky to get 192 on DAB

DAB coverage in Ireland is pretty limited, but the North-East is one area that is actually well-covered (as this map, from back in 2008, shows: https://www.rte.ie/digitalradio/images/DAB-map-large.jpg ).

The reason you're losing coverage at Dundalk is because your car radio is still trying to find the service on the UK-labelled multiplex you were listening to while in NI, and is ignoring the Irish multiplex entirely. Either that, or the presence of DAB+ programme streams on the Irish multiplex is confusing your radio (but any car radio after about 2013 should support DAB+).

Assuming your radio works with DAB+ streams, you may be able to get it to swap over by either changing channels, bringing up the "all channels" list, or performing a rescan, in order of driver annoyance.

RTÉ still uses 252 kHz AM at 500kW (100kW at night) for its Radio 1 service, but that's on borrowed time: it was supposed to close in 2014, then 2017, and now closure has been put out to June 2019, and this time I think it will go for good. Service to Irish ex-pats in the UK (the bulk of 252's listenership) will be achieved by renting space in local UK DAB+ multiplexes and the existingAstra satellite service.

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Kristian Walsh
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@Mage Re: Lucky to get 192 on DAB

RTÉ Lyric FM is transmitted at 160 kbit joint-stereo on DAB: Only BBC Radio 3's bitrate is higher at 192k, and other UK stereo services are 128k joint-stereo or worse.

But even at 160k it's still not good enough in MP2, especially in comparison to the superb audio quality of the analogue FM signal. Lyric is proof that a lot of lousy radio quality is something the stations themselves do before broadcast: Lyric's FM signal always has superb dynamic range, with none of the "all loud, all the time" Optimod compression that makes other services tiring to listen to.

There's also a DAB+ version of Lyric at 48 kbit, and it's actually pretty close in audio quality to the 160 kbit MP2 version, but still not as good as the FM.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: There are plenty of reasons NOT to use IP

At a previous employer we used multicast for IPTV. It only worked if we were able to control the exact switches (make, model and firmware version) used within the building, and even then it was site-area network - doing inter-network multicasts, especially with an ISP, rapidly becomes an exercise in building your own network stacks. If the network supported it, however, multicast was a superb choice: point-to-point TV is a bandwidth hog for high numbers of users, but on multicast, the peak network load is limited by the number of available channels, not the number of viewers..

While Multicast IP is great in theory, but at a LAN level, it was never widely adopted by switch manufacturers (IGMP, the protocol that allows receivers to join and leave multicasts, is best implemented at the switching rather than routing level of the network stack, but that requires that switches inspect the frames they receive in order to find the join/leave messages), and at a WAN level, there's no good routing protocol.

But that's really not what was "wrong" with DAB. The designers made a good choice of transport layer; the problem was that the content stream encoding specified just before audio decompression hardware progressed to the point where it became possible to run the much better frequency-domain decoders (e.g, MP3) on cheap silicon. The root of DAB's problems are that in MP2, the available bitrate is equally allocated across the audio signal's frequency bandwidth - if there's no information present in a given sub-band, you can't reallocate its bitrate to other, more information-rich sub-bands. Thus, for certain types of signal, in which only a small part of the frequency range is carrying information, MP2's "used" bitrate is a fraction of the channel rate. Unfortunately, instrumental or vocal solos in classical music are exactly that kind of signal.

DAB+, on the other hand, is pretty good, even at surprisingly low bitrates (I can receive the same services on DAB and DAB+ where I live)

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Meet Asteroid, a drop-in Linux upgrade for your unloved smartwatch

Kristian Walsh
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Qt > Enlightenment, but we knew this already.

As both are Linux-based, the most significant difference between AsteroidOS and Tizen is the application framework used for apps.

Qt 5, including QML/QtQuick, is the preferred framework on AsteroidOS, which explains how a small team of developers has managed to bring up such a polished UI in so short a time period.

Tizen, meanwhile, pushes developers to use Enlightenment. And if ever a framework was ironically named...

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Apple MacBook butterfly keyboards 'defective', 'prone to fail' – lawsuit

Kristian Walsh
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It was all downhill from the Apple Extended Keyboard II

In my time at Apple, "Extended Twos" were jealously guarded, and with good reason: anything earlier didn't have enough keys to program with, or it had the keys you wanted, but in places you didn't (Escape, to the right of the spacebar? Er....), and anything after* was either horrible to type on, or was horrible to type on and didn't have enough keys to program with (the first USB keyboard, shipped with iMac and PowerMac G3 had no Del key, for goodness sake...).

( * honourable exception given to the Apple Adjustable Keyboard, a prototype of which I had rescued from a departed co-worker's desk, and which set me on the road of being one of those people who goes on about how un-ergonomic most keyboards are... Despite being in the "keys in weird places" camp, it at least kept Esc at top-left, and when you got used to it, it was a really nice keyboard to type on. I wouldn't have liked to pay what it actually cost retail, though... over $200 in 1993 dollars is a lot, even by Apple's standards of the time)

A friend has one of the new Powerbook keyboards, and I found it simply awful to type on, and I thought you couldn't get much worse than the previous MacBook keyboards. No key travel, and really "clicky" - reminded me of clicking a mouse-button, not typing on keys. Apple used to be good at the design rule that "form follows function", but they seem to have got it the wrong way round a lot in recent years - there was no reason to make the key action worse except to shave a barely-noticable millimetre off the device's profile when closed.

In my social circle, I'm surrounded by people who won't buy the new PowerBooks at all: When the 2015 MacBook Pro is finally retired, I think Apple will lose a sizeable chunk of its developer customers. Not that the company really cares, given how many new customers they've gained via iPhone owners buying matching laptops, but it has to be noted that a lot of the "cool factor" of Apple's computer products came from people in high-profile design and science settings using them - as time goes on, Apple has less and less to offer those customers to justify its price premium.

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Fork it! Microsoft adds .NET Core 3.0 including Windows Desktop apps

Kristian Walsh
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Doing that sounds like a good idea, but it isn't one. The UI should always follow the native platform's way of doing things, so it's best tailored to each platform, using as much native services as possible.

But that doesn't mean you've got to write everything from scratch on each. And this is where having .Net Core as the one basic library of Xamarin*, WPF and UWP is useful...

I write everything functional (the application Models and Viewmodels) to the .Net Core APIs, and then use UWP for Windows, or Xamarin for other platforms. The UWP or Xamarin layer contains the parts of the code that need to be different to work right on each platform, plus those features that are unique to specific platforms (e.g., live-tile interaction on Windows), and interfaces to platform-specific functions (media playback, NFC, etc...). Everything else, the bit written in .Net Core, is headless control code that is exactly the same on every platform.

This makes it easy to ensure functional correctness across platforms without having to port changes across multiple codebases.

[ * strictly, Xamarin is still based on Mono, but Mono is committed to tracking .Net Core, and .Net Core is itself an open source project these days. ]

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Microsoft wants serious, non-gaming developers to make more money

Kristian Walsh
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At the risk of not posting juvenile commentary...

This is actually a pretty good deal for publishers, compared to the alternative options. Acceptor fees for an online credit-card sale are at least 2% - and that's for high-volume customers. Add the costs of hosting your downloads, licensing one of those annoying update-checker systems, a sales-tracking/analytics package, customer feedback forms and the other stuff you get on the Store dashboard, and it makes pretty good financial sense to exchange the hassle for a 5% cut in revenue.

Anything that costs more than about $500 per copy still is better value to self-host (software at this price is normally sold as part of a package with support anyway), but small publishers selling at $50-100 would be financially better off using the Windows Store (Microsoft Store? whatever) as their credit-card acceptor and download host.

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Google Pay heads for the desktop... and, we fear, an inevitable flop

Kristian Walsh
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Re: "but it is going to cost them a lot of money because"

There's a fundamental difference between Europe and the USA that you're probably unaware of, which explains why we're up to date and the US isn't.

In Europe, the banks run the entire card payment system chain, including leasing the terminal equipment to retailers as part of their card-payment account. The equipment remains the property of the banks. So, if the banks want everyone on Chip+PIN, they can send their merchant-account holders new terminals, and then after a certain date, they stop accepting signature slips (actually they still accept sigs, but the merchant bears the cost of fraud). Even new entrants like Clover and SumUp are still in this model - merchants don't pay the full price of their terminals.

In the USA, merchants purchase their payment equipment outright, so it belongs to them, not the banks. If the banks wanted everyone on Chip+PIN (and they do - Credit card fraud in the USA is rampant), but the merchants say "no, I'm not spending any more money this year" then there's no way that any rollout will reach critical mass, and so the country's stuck on magstripe and signature.

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Kristian Walsh
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...and despite calling out the author for 'technical inaccuracy', you don't back up your assertion with any information about how it 'actually works', and how that's different to the article's summary.

Some factual statements: The customer does give the Google payment system access to their credit card account (not the card, but the account at their bank that backs it), they do use the Google Pay desktop system for online transactions, and these transactions are processed by Google.

Or, more succinctly: "Basically, you give Google your bank card so you can spend money online via Google."

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Take-off crash 'n' burn didn't kill the Concorde, it was just too bloody expensive to maintain

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Misapplied brilliance

Yes, "the USA" (or rather Boeing) built the 747, but it also failed to build a competitor to Concorde. The Boeing 747 is one of those accidental success stories that get re-told as forward thinking after the fact...

Boeing designed 747 primarily as a freight aircraft, in response to a U.S military requirement for a jet-engined heavy transport. It didn't win that contract (Lockheed did, with the C-5 Galaxy), but when Pan Am asked Boeing about a 300-seater plane to reduce taxiway congestion at busy airports, Boeing revived the project, but the plane's heavy-transport origins kept their focus on freight: even with passenger-airline orders on the books in the mid-1960s, the 747 model was still envisioned as a "freighter that could take passengers", to the point that customers were offered the big passenger jet with the option of a re-fit into full freight service once supersonic passenger flight took over. The thinking was simple: with a supersonic option available, nobody would want to fly the "slow plane".

A big reason for this odd attitude was that at the time 747 was being developed, Boeing's biggest project was the 2707, a Mach-2-to-3 capable passenger jet, heavily subsidised by the U.S. Government, and eventually abandoned in 1971. The 2707 project nearly bankrupted Boeing, and in the end it was very fortunate for them that they had decided to produce 747: their "nice-to-have" additional option turned out to be the core product that saved the company.

The other big factor in the collapse of supersonic passenger flight was the Oil Crisis. When Concorde was being planned in the early 1960s, petroleum, and thus aviation fuel, was dirt cheap. By the time Concorde actually went into service in 1976, there had been two Oil Crises, OPEC had flexed its muscles considerably, and fuel had more than doubled in price. Fuel now became a much greater part of a plane's running cost than it had been previously, and Concorde used about three times as much of it per seat per mile as competing planes.

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if dev == woman then dont_be(asshole): Stack Overflow tries again to be more friendly to non-male non-pasty coders

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Maybe a silly question, but...

(* I wish there was babyoverflow with logical steps on how to fix a crying baby)

https://parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/crying+baby

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Windows 10 Spring Creators Update team explains the hold-up: You little BSOD!

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Windows insider Program

@JDX - yes, that's pretty much it. There's a "fast" stream that gets every release as it's put out, a "slow" stream that gets only the most stable/complete of the "fast" releases from the previous couple of weeks, and finally a "release preview" stream that lets hardware and software devs do meaningful pre-release compatibility testing.

The problem, mentioned above, is that the non-preview trains attract the sort of person who only wants "the latest thing", and whatever bugs they do file are usually against third-party developers for "not being up to speed". I never knew such people existed until I wrote my first smartphone app, and then got loads of bogus bug-reports from people running "custom", pre-release or otherwise unsupported, firmware (in which lots of the normal features of the device didn't work properly, but hey, you get this faster launch-time)

Bug reports on fast builds aren't really useful either, because the fast releases often gain, drop and then regain functionality as development progresses, and nobody seems to read the release logs that say this. And if what I've received from my few users is typical of what MS receives, I wouldn't be surprised if they binned them all to avoid wasting the QA managers' time trying to decipher them.

For Microsoft's sake, they should make all "insiders" do an online course on writing a bug report before they can sign up - enough to know that a bug report needs all of "Title, Environment, Steps to reproduce, Expected Result, Actual Result" and optionally: "Logs/Evidence of failure, Notes of any similar, non-failure case". If the "price" for early access is helping find bugs, at least give some help to the users to be helpful. (This should apply to any vendor offering early-access builds, not just Microsoft.)

"Insider" builds are of use to third-party devs, but we're usually too busy actually writing software to properly participate in the program.. I've only logged bugs when they've directly stopped me from doing something.

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Corking story: Idiotic smart wine bottle idea falls over, passes out

Kristian Walsh
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Re: These clowns were still in business?

I understand the commercial need for systems like Coravin (they're a net gain for high-end restaurants and bars as they allow expensive bottles to be sold out by the glass at higher margin), but in a home setting I'd never open a bottle expensive enough to deserve that kind of preservation without there being enough people around to finish it.

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Airbus ditches Microsoft, flies off to Google

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Google buying a slice of the pie?

Google Docs can't do numbered headings* (1. , 1.1. , 1.2., 1.2.1., 1.2.2. etc)

Airbus is an engineering company, so one assumes they'd need to produce engineering documents occasionally. Pretty much every engineering document I've ever read has numbered headings, and I've read a lot of them.

* you can use an add-on, but all of them "send your document to a third party to be processed"... If I were Boeing, I'd be writing just such an add-on.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: "UTF-8 is self-clocking so random access is quite trivial"

Apologies for the long post, but...

I used to teach developers about Unicode adoption and localisability, and the "objection" that you can't random-access UTF-8 text came up a lot. It sounds like a problem, but it's based on a flawed conflation of "text fragment" and "byte array". Random access is something you do with byte arrays, not human-readable text.

(You mention configuration keys being English. They're not. They're machine-readable byte sequences. They happen to look like English words, but that's because of the same incorrect conflation of "human-readable text" and "bytes". Anyone who uses what is, in effect, a variable name and shows it directly to the user is already doing the wrong thing, and UTF-8 or ASCII doesn't come into it)

I have never seen an application that cared about "characters" at the data-format level. Bytes, yes; characters, never. But because C called its 8-bit integer type "char", generations of programmers think they're one and the same. They are not. Unicode TR-17 (https://www.unicode.org/reports/tr17/) gives a truer picture of what storing textual information actually involves - it's a quick read, but it clears a lot of misconceptions that you may not even know you had. Note also how Unicode uses the term "Code-point" rather than "Character" because, linguistically, "characters" are not defined by a hard or fast rule: is the French word "cœur" four or five letters long? And how many characters is that? Or ask a Dutch speaker how many letters are in the word "Ijs"...

The only time I've seen code doing a random-access jump into "strings" of data is in chunked data formats, or Pascal-like strings ({ Length, bytes[] }), but they do so in order to skip over "text" chunks, or copy them wholesale and pass them to a renderer for display. In these cases, the data inside those chunks can be anything - its encoding is assumed to be Someone Else's Problem, as it should be at the data-unpacking layer of any protocol.

If you've got code that's randomly accessing a "string", it's a good sign that you're not actually dealing with text; you're manipulating a byte-array, and any textual content within it must therefore be properly delimited by the rules of the data format (if it wasn't, the data format couldn't even work with ASCII text runs, let alone UTF-8).

UTF-8 data is transparent to any application that's "8-bit clean". Applications that hit problems with UTF-8 are ones that made invalid assumptions about text encodings, and these would also fail with other ISO-8859 codepages than Latin1, or with (horrible) stateful systems like Shift-JIS or Big5. However, there's still nothing to stop you using a byte 0xB9 ("·" in ISO-8859-1) as a placeholder within some "text" that is otherwise UTF-8 encoded, provided you replace that placeholder with another UTF-8 string (or nothing) before passing it out of your process, and provided you use some kind of escape sequence to allow that byte to be part of the "text" without having special meaning. [Seriously, don't do things like this: it's just storing a world of pain for yourself. Keep your "special" characters within the ASCII code range, and allow them to be escaped, and you're good. That way, the cases of "is the previous character a backslash" work in UTF-8 just fine, as '\' is one of the ASCII codes, and guaranteed to be a single byte, and no byte that's part of a UTF-8 sequence is allowed contain that value.]

Random access isn't the same as searching, something that's entirely valid to do with human-readable text strings (e.g., to find special formatting tokens). You can find the location of a particular codepoint inside a string of UTF-8 text really easy: strstr() can find any Unicode code point at all (give it the UTF-8 representation of that code), and strchr() will do it for any codepoint that's below U+0080 (i.e., same as ASCII); or, from the nasty example above, strchr(...,'\xB9') will work fine, as your input is, strictly speaking a series of UTF-8 text runs, delimited by the byte-value 0xB9, which your process will turn into a single UTF-8 text run. (Differentiating between the "text" 0xB9 values and "special-char" values is your problem, though...)

I would be genuinely interested if you can provide a piece of pseudocode showing an application that needs to reach a character boundary by index within a block of UTF-8 text. I've yet to find an example that isn't already broken for certain valid ASCII inputs.

Nonetheless, all of the above is not an argument in favour of text-based data formats - I still believe that binary streams are quicker and more compact. However, the issue of byte-order for multi-byte integers has always made interchange risky, and in the days the WWW was being constructed there really were still systems that were 7-bit only when it came to text, and also stripped any code below U+0020; hence the use of HTML "&" entities for characters like quotes that are actually already encodable in HTML's default character set (ISO-8859-1). Interoperability often means "lowest common denominator", and that's a stream of printable ASCII codes, plus CR, LF, and TAB.

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Windows 10 S to become a 'mode', not a discrete product

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Passed through the BS -> English translator

Actually, you don't get it. The complaint is not about Linux. It's about the attitude here that anyone who chooses to use an alternative to Linux does so solely because they're an idiot who didn't know about Linux.

Whether he likes Linux or not doesn't stop this being a valid criticism.

I do a lot of Linux development, but I'm not blind to the platform's strengths and weaknesses. There are much better alternatives for certain application areas (desktop apps, small-footprint embedded, realtime), where Linux is often chosen for the mistaken belief that it's cheaper (no, there's really no such thing as a free lunch.. try hiring competent Linux developers and see most of those savings evaporate). If Linux is the best fit for the problem, price is a bonus; if it isn't, you're just doing the commercial equivalent of trying to optimise a bad algorithm. No tool, no OS can fit every possible usage scenario. Anyone who claims it can is only showing how narrow their view of the computing industry is.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: Trade off

I'd upvote this a hundred times if I could: the first comment on the actual merits and failings of the product.

Edge isn't actually that bad a browser these days, but I agree 100% that you should be allowed to install something else in its place.

Also, while I think this is (stupidly) disabled in "S", you can change the default search provider in the regular Edge browser: https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/help/4028574/windows-10-change-the-default-search-engine-in-microsoft-edge

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Huawei guns for Apple with Mac-alike Matebook X

Kristian Walsh
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Re: MacOs

Your group (a) is buying a brand, so can easily be pulled to another brand once that becomes recognisable as being a status-symbol. HP/Lenovo/Dell would be better off creating a new brand for these models (as Microsoft does with Surface and Dell does with Alienware for the same reason in a different demographic),

But the brand-whores also make up some of a third, much more relevant group: "(c) you're spending somebody else's money, so you buy the most expensive toy that you can."

That's who Lenovo, HP, Microsoft are trying to chase. Those users don't actually want macOS; they want an expensive laptop to run their office apps and web-based line-of-business apps on; but it has to be recognisably expensive, so that everyone else sitting in the lounge can see it.

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Six things I learned from using the iPad Pro for Real Work™

Kristian Walsh
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No, it really is the aspect ratio of the screen that's the problem with 16:9, not the number of pixels. 16:9 does not have enough height available for any given width. So, yes, it's "only 1080 vertical resolution", but that complaint is in relation to it being "1960 horizontal resolution" too. 1080 vertical would be fine if the horizontal was 1440.

Think of how every windowed UI is laid out. A horizontal strip takes space at the top or bottom of the screen for always-present functions (Menubar/Taskbar). Each window then has a horizontal strip at the top, and possibly the bottom too. All those horizontal strips steal height, but on a 16:9 display - of any resolution- display height is the commodity that is in shortest supply. So, unless you're able to redesign every application's user interface to move the "controls" entirely to one side of the content rather than above or below, wide screen ratios are at a disadvantage.

Upping the resolution of the panel to "fix" the problem makes everything smaller and harder to read (or the OS just increases the size of the UI elements and text to cancel out the resolution increase).

The iPad display uses the "classic" 4:3 ratio (or 16:12 if normalised to the width of a 16:9 panel) - the same as old PC monitors. Look at the more expensive laptops: Apple uses 16:10, and Microsoft's Surface uses a 3:2 ratio (or 16:10.6 ). These taller displays offer significantly more vertical space than 16:9 when used in the normal landscape orientation, and that's a feature people will pay for.

16:9 displays are used only because they're cheaper, and they're cheaper because those panels can also be used as television displays.

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Remember those holy tech wars we used to have? Heh, good times

Kristian Walsh
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Re: "Religion gave way to pragmatism"?

Odd that OSX is user friendly and works just fine with configuration files. No systemd, and no registry.

It's probably truer to say that they don't have those precise names on MacOS X...

MacOS X's "launchd" (since OSX 10.4) is basically the same approach to process management as Linux's "systemd", and MacOS configuration is more like the Windows Registry than it is like Linux /etc files.

If you're configuring all of your "Mac OS" by changing text in the files under /etc, you are not using MacOS features at all, but rather BSD Unix (or tools you've installed that were ported from Linux).

At the disk level, the bulk of OSX configuration is via property-list files, a proprietary (but very simple) binary data format. These are the *.plist files in /Library/Preferences (global settings) and /Users/____/Library/Preferences (your settings). You can edit them with a graphical tool, or use the "defaults" tool to do it in the Terminal, but you can't just open [text editor of your choice] and type new values in. In that sense, it's pretty much the same as the Windows Registry. (There's an XML representation for plists that's also supported, but OSX and most apps ship with, and use, the binary format)

There's really not much difference between the properties collection on MacOS X and the Registry on Windows except that the Windows Registry is much less granular in its on-disk format than the former. That lack of file-level partition is the only thing that makes the Registry a "bad" thing from a technical standpoint compared to plists; and the big problem with Registry isn't corruption, it's application software stomping on settings during install, and then not restoring them after uninstallation (which is why Microsoft's "Store" packaging and deployment system gives converted Win32 applications a virtual, sandboxed Registry that they can shit in to their heart's content without damaging the user's system). Nothing in the design of the OS X system would prevent this problem, but OS X developers tend to not change system settings during install, and when they do, they use the official, Apple, installer, which does manage this properly.

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Memo man Damore is back – with lawyers: Now Google sued for 'punishing' white men

Kristian Walsh
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Re: @h4rmony @Kristian Walsh

You've obviously been following this more closely than I have. I read the original memo, and found it to be an unreasonable complaint, and moved on. It irked me later to hear some people talk about it as if it were a manifesto against "political correctness gone mad". It isn't.

You're dismissing this because you want to, not because it isn't sound.

No, you're wrong there. I didn't mention the details of the leak because I simply wasn't aware of it. Sincerly, thank you for pointing out these circumstances: knowing that this was leaked without his knowlege, rather than published post-facto does change my view on Damore himself (rather than "Damore's memo"). I already said that I'd be surprised if this was the sole reason he was fired, but I'm now happy to accept that it's likely the dismissal may have been orchestrated by people he worked with. For what little it'll help him, I hope that if this turns out to be the case, he gets very well compensated.

I used the word "nerdy" without meaning it to be pejorative, by the way. I meant an office culture where it's considered desirable to spend all hours coding, to the exclusion of other activities.

I will say that when it comes to these arguments that I take the opinion that both edges of the spectrum are equally destructive and stupid. In this case, it's only the conservative, reactionary end that has come up. On the other end, we have Identity Politics, probably the most horrible, divisive concept of recent decades, focussing on difference rather than commonality is not the way to build tolerant and welcoming societies. The hair-trigger outrage merchants like that "dongles" woman you cited (and the cowards who dismissed their engineers without bothering to hear their side of it), are just as obnoxious as the "tech bro" culture, because ultimately they're the same thing: someone who wants everyone else to behave the way they want, but is unwilling to accommodate anyone else's position.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: "...therefore Socrates is a dog"

I'm very well aware of how serious the matter of suicide is. If you thought I brought it up as a quip, please re-read what I wrote. If you still feel I was being flippant, then I apologise.

We have a serious problem as men about not admitting that we're unable to cope with stress. The macho bullshit about "manning up" and getting on with it makes things worse. I know people who've denied being under any pressure... right until they've had a breakdown.

And I also know others who aren't here anymore. It's not only work stresses, it's everything, but talking helps and if you can, do. It's awkard, and maybe you'll be told to fuck off, but it can help in some cases. Not all, but some.

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Kristian Walsh
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@h4rmony Re: @Kristian Walsh

(I'm male, by the way - I know it's an ambiguous name in some countries)

Yes, I'd urge anyone to definitely read the memo before making a comment - it's not very long. Don't go by my reading of it - make up your own minds. I posted in response to those who appear to be supporting Damore on the basis of a skim-read of the introduction to this document, or hearsay based. Search "Damore memo" and you'll find any number of links to this document.

Before going any further, though, I will say that I find it very hard to believe that he was fired just for writing this document. Dismissing a permanent employee is not something that any company (even an American one) does lightly - it often, as in this case, ends up with both the employer and employee in court. This document is one part of a bigger story, and none of us know the whole story yet, but my suspicions are that it's a story in which Damore may not be the hero.

... and as this is highly likely to be settled out-of-court, I don't think we'll ever know the facts.

I didn't make any comment one way or the other on gender representation, but Damore's point about never achieving a 50/50 balance is a straw-man argument: everyone knows that's not practical with the current pool of available talent, but we all (he included) know that that's not what "diversity" policies are about.

These policies aren't looking to pass over men and replace them with women - that's an example of the "zero-sum" thinking I criticised; they're about making changes to the workplace that make it easier to attract and then retain male and female staff of a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. I believe he is deliberately misrepresenting a policy of preferring minority candidates who meet the requirements for a position, as one where such candidates get the job without meeting the requirements.

At the end of the document, he has his list of "recommendations": this is where he makes his pitch for what the ideal solution will be. And when you look at it, it's just a rollback of measures Google has taken to stop its workplaces being so hostile to people who aren't nerdy white men. If someone is unwilling to see the changes as necessary, what does that say about their opinion of the current situation?

Now, I'm also willing to entertain the possibility that Google's inclusiveness programmes are as cack-handed, insensitive and blunt-edged as you'd expect from a company that truly believes that algorithms can replace human judgement in pretty much all situations. But that doesn't stop this memo being a poorly argued whinge about having to share the the office with people who see the world differently to him.

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Kristian Walsh
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"...therefore Socrates is a dog"

Well I did read what he wrote. It's crap. It's structure is typical of conspiracy theories - the introduction says nothing controversial and concedes some points in an attempt to gain your trust that the author is impartial and acting in good faith. Then the actual argument begins (from the section "the harm of Google's biases"), and logic goes for a beer somewhere.

Even if I agreed with his hypothesis, I couldn't endorse this bunch of logical fallacies that attempt to "prove" that he's being badly treated as a result of some political-correctness conspiracy. If that document is an example of his logical reasoning skills, he's unfit to be a software engineer.

Where to start? How about the beginning. From the get-go, by denouncing every program to change it, he takes as given that the current status-quo is the best possible in the tech industry. Well, I'd just note that there once was a time where every Olympic runner was a white guy. I suppose the only reason it's different now is that about sixty years ago, black guys must have decided to stop complaining about things being unfair and instead learn to run like white men...

Next, anyone who says we need to "De-emphasise empathy" when designing software has made a fundamental error about the reasons why we write software. If it does not make the life of a human being better in some way, there is no point to it. (Sadly, that doesn't preclude things that make one human's life better by making another's much worse, or much, much shorter; but I'm not the one claiming this is an easy thing to "fix").

The only things he writes that are verifiably true are the data-points he quotes in the introduction, but these are ignored by the time he's launched into his argument proper. Just because someone uses lots of facts, it doesn't mean that they're reasoning from them properly. Or should we really combat global warming by becoming pirates?

Take the quoted excerpt above: when an easily identifiable subset of workers, women, at Google report more anxiety than the majority group (I'll assume that this is a fact), Damore leaps to the one hypothesis that suits his agenda without considering other, likelier causes. Here's his "cause", plus three reasons I'd want to look at in addition:

a. Women are naturally more prone to be neurotic (says Damore)

b. Men under-report the amount of stress they're under at work

c. The raised stress is as a result of the nature of the jobs more commonly done by women

d. The raised stress is as a result of unfair treatment (lack of advancement, lower pay, etc)

A look at work-related suicide statistics should make you stop and consider "b" for a moment (if we want to talk about how men are badly treated by workplaces, this is where we start). Damore himself glides over "c" without stopping to consider that front-end, user-facing development is the most fluid and most subject to customer interference part of a project and therefore one of the most stressful development tasks. And "d" might explain why the shittiest jobs have an overabundance of female engineers doing them, but we're simply told (without evidence to back it up) that "women are better at front-end". Yes, and I'm sure someone told me that Mexicans naturally gifted at picking fruit.

The argument Damore is making is not, as his defenders claim, that men and women have (in general) different approaches to work and problem solving, and that we need to consider everyone's needs in a workplace. That's not even an argument, and as a statement it's so obvious that it's hardly worthy of comment. His argument is the big non-sequitir rant that follows those platitudes: that we should not change anything if it makes white men like him uncomfortable, because white men like him are the best engineers. The problem with that argument is that he defines "desirable" qualities as those which he and other men like him possess, and discounts those skills he lacks as being worthless. He also sees the situation as a zero-sum game, and so creates a false dilemma where measures to help minority participants can only disadvantage people like him.

I could summarise the whole ten pages as "(A) I am a good engineer, (B) I am a man, therefore (C) men are good engineers"

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1980s sci-fi movies: The thrill of being not quite terrified on mum's floral sofa

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Not just technology...

I think Verhoeven had to leave when Hollywood bosses realised that his entire output for American studios had been basically taking the piss out of Americans. Either that or it was Showgirls. Actually, it was definitely Showgirls...

Robocop is a nasty vision of the future not for the visceral gore of its special effects, but for the nastiness of the world it portrays through the TV commercial blips, the incidental dialogue and all the small details that build up to a picture of a world gone to hell. The gore is the least disturbing part of Verhoeven's future Detroit...

I'm also in the small faction that likes Starship Troopers - and that's because of its particular take on "alien monster" movies. I can't say anything else as I don't want to spoil it for people who haven't seen it, but it is very much not what it seems. A faithful reproduction of Heinlein's book would have been indistinguishable from any of the slew of generic "space-marine" movies that came in the wake of "Aliens".

Actually, what I think was a major factor in the Sci-fi boom of the 1980s was home video itself: Not to watch the "hits", but to discover movies that didn't make it big on release.. For studios it meant that if a movie tanked at the theatres, it still had a chance of making its money back on VHS sales, and that allowed projects to be approved that otherwise wouldn't have been. Especially as Sci-fi is a niche interest, with fans who are loyal and will buy on recommendation.

This second chance allowed some damp-squip cinema releases to turn into major successes later. As it happens, Blade Runner was one such film - its global box-office receipts of $33 million in 1982 were a very poor return for a movie with a $28 million production budget, but over the 1980s and 1990s it more than doubled that income again in home sales.

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It gets worse: Microsoft’s Spectre-fixer wrecks some AMD PCs

Kristian Walsh
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Re: athlon

Please don't tell me people *still* think you need secure boot to run Win10.

I think they're the same ones who think UEFI is a boot-locker.

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And we return to Munich's migration back to Windows - it's going to cost what now?! €100m!

Kristian Walsh
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Unterschleißheim is a town in Bavaria, Germany. It is located about 17 km north of the city limits of Munich.

City limits being the operative word here

I suggest you do a bit more research on how regional government and local taxation works in Germany, because that argument is based on a misunderstanding of this. Put In UK terms, you're close to stating that Ealing and Aldgate are not in the same city; a true assertion, but not one that's significant in this context.

Microsoft's move to Schwabing will be a net loss to the local government in tax revenue, as the new offices are in a specially-designated development area, to which lower tax rates apply (for a long introductory period).

There really is nothing odd about this move. Tech companies have been migrating from edge-city office parks to city-centre locations for most of the last decade. Has it escaped your notice how many "Silicon Valley" companies are actually operating from San Francisco now, rather than the actual Valley, 50 miles south of SF? How many UK-based companies have shifted from the M4 Corridor and now operate in London?

The new location is between the two largest universities in Munich. If you knew the city at all, you'd understand why any company that needs to attract smart graduates would jump at this kind of move.

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Kristian Walsh
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No, it didn't "just move". Microsoft's German HQ had been in Munich-Unterschleissheim ( for over three decades. What happened recently was that the company moved those offices into a more central location in Munich (Schwabing), near to the two major universities in the city.

This was an organisational, not a technology failure. Fixating on "Microsoft versus Linux" isn't just juvenile, it's also counter-productive. It won't help address the reasons why this project became such a mess.

And meanwhile, lots of other "serious" organisations have made the same transition that Munich failed to; the French Gendarmerie for instance now uses a Linux-based LibreOffice-based workflow for all its internal IT.

If there's one easy lesson from this, it should be that Linux's proponents really need to stop pitching Linux as a "cost-saving" alternative to proprietary software: this gives the customer the wrong mindset from the get-go. In truth, the software licences are never the big line items in a business process improvement project.

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Microsoft Surface Book 2: Electric Boogaloo. Bigger, badder, better

Kristian Walsh
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Re: glut of these on the second-hand market

First, I don't know where this "fact" came from, but no: no Surface model has ever been boot-locked, except the ARM-based Surface RT. You don't have to take my word for this: just type "install linux on Surface Pro" into your favourite search engine and see the numerous guides on doing just that.

Second, 'sudo apt-get install gcc' will work on a Windows laptop once you install the Windows Subsystem For Linux. I've had some pretty dumb students back when I was a lecturer, but I imagine even they'd be able to open up the app Store icon and type "Ubuntu" into the search-box, install the software and then click the "bash shell" icon on their desktop afterwards.

...and the example is contrived anyway: I've never seen computing students running anything other than Mac or Windows as an OS on their personal laptops. For almost all programming coursework, the BSD tools on a Mac suffice; WSL on Windows goes a step further by giving you the exact same tools as a "real" Linux system, but for compilers building the type of projects that will be done in an undergraduate course, this distinction doesn't really matter.

If you want a plausible reason for Surfaces being abandoned, it'll be the keyboards. The folding keyboards are okay, but for heavy-duty typing, there's no substitute for a real keyboard.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: I'll pass

Yes, and you can get a pen and paper for a couple of quid. The spec you're citing is for a far less powerful system than the £3k Surface Book, which won't be much use if you're running software that requires a lot of computational power. Compared to giving someone a workstation, plus a laptop, that £3k doesn't look so bad.

But yes, the 1Tb disk option is pure gouging, but with the 512G SSD, it's perfectly in line with what you'd expect to pay for one of the highest-performing laptops you can buy at the moment. The article cites similarly high-spec Windows laptops, and they're priced in the same ballpark. The latest technology always costs a lot more than the previous generation, and this laptop is no exception. At least this time, the advantage of the 8th-generation CPUs over the 7th is clear and measurable - particularly in power usage (can do the same work as the old chips, but at 60% of the power consumption).

Just because, like me, you can't justify spending that much on a laptop, it doesn't mean that there isn't someone who does need it. In my case, I don't use a laptop as my primary computing device - I've a desktop PC that I do my own work on, and that will outdo most laptops, simply by virtue of not being constrained in terms of cooling or power consumption.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: Great Handware, but!

As someone who makes his living using Linux, I cannot agree with any characterisation of Linux GUI tools as being "intuitive" or "easy to use". Every damned one is different, with its own quirks, and most aren't worth the bother.

This is in complete contrast to the way the command-line tools generally all work in the same manner. It's this consistency of the Linux command-line tools, following principles and examples inherited from Unix, that made it the premier server OS.

...and Microsoft does ship a "Linux" distribution for Windows 10. Or rather, Canonical and Microsoft does. You can get it here:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/ubuntu/9nblggh4msv6

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Last week: Microsoft accused of covering up rape claim. This week: Microsoft backs anti-cover-up law ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Kristian Walsh
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How were these even enforceable in the first place?

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, ..."

- the Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution

My understanding of contract law is that you can never be held to a contract that diminishes the rights you already have under the law (unless the law itself allows you to waive them). Nor can you be held to a contract that requires you to perform an illegal act*

Forced arbitration is, in effect, the denial of your right to justice for no reason other than you happen to work for a particular corporation, and "justice" applies to both accused and accuser.

( * yes, that does make a nonsense of the idea of a "contract killer", but to be honest, you're in deeper legal waters than this if that happens to be your business.)

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Ex-Microsoft intern claimed one of her fellow temps raped her. Her bosses hired him

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Kristian Walsh I don't know...

I demanded nothing, and by the dismissive tone of your response, I'm guessing you think I'm female. Guess again (hint: I've one more than Adolf Hitler, according to the once-popular song)

I also never said the accused was guilty, nor did I suggest that accused persons should be considered guilty for certain crimes. He was accused, not convicted, and yes the alleged victim also could have been lying (statistically, though that is just as unlikely as a report of him stealing from her being a lie). However, leaving two employees together who are in such serious conflict with each other is disgraceful behaviour towards whichever of them is the wronged party.

That was my point: idiotic HR practices that exacerbated an already bad situation between two employees.

Microsoft's response in this case was completely wrong for a situation where one employee has accused another of assaulting them. If it helps clear the mental fog, imagine one male intern accusing another male intern of physical assault. Would you have dealt with it this way if the two interns were your direct reports?

But some commenters on this haven't been able to look beyond "woman accuses man of rape", and frame this as another assault on "men's rights" and gone straight to the standard knee-jerk reaction, pausing only to mentally add "(and she was probably lying)" along the way, despite evidence that shows false rape claims to be as rare as false theft or physical assault claims.

That reaction also completely ignores the fact that the woman's specific complaint here wasn't about being raped - that's a criminal matter. Her complaint was about how badly her employer has handled the situation. The strong correlation between those commenters standing up to defend Microsoft for this idiocy and those commenters who normally despise Microsoft and all its works was amusing.

Darling.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: I don't know...

Microsoft screwed up here, and badly. You're right - the best choice would have been to move both employees, so that they're not meeting each other every day. If the accusation was false, moving both would reduce the accuser's ability to bully the accused; if it was true, being apart would prevent problems at a subsequent trial ("but you spoke with my client regularly in your office? Surely you could not have been as traumatised as you claim ...").

Your question about anonymity has a local answer if you want to look into it further: In Irish law, accused rapists remain anonymous unless convicted, on the grounds that knowing identity of the accused can easily allow identification of the victim (remember that most victims of rape know their attacker). However, this provision often means that convicted rapists are not named either, because in many situations, doing so would remove the victim's anonymity. It's common here for victims to renounce their right to anonymity after a conviction is secured, just to ensure that their attacker is named.

But the Irish law primarily exists to protect the victim, not the accused. The risk of false accusation isn't significant, because the overwhelming number of charges of rape are based on real attacks. To hear some people talking about it, you'd swear every second accusation was malicious, but the FBI's figures in the US put the false claim rate at just under 2% - the same level as for other crimes (of all classes). Bear in mind that this 2% figure is of those cases where a police complaint is made- there are many victims of physical assault who cannot bring themselves to make an official complaint - the reporting rate for rape is believed to be as low as 12%.

... It's also sad to see some regular and vehemently anti-Microsoft commenters lining up to support the company's cack-handed actions in this case. I guess they can overlook "pure evil" when it has the side-effect of keeping uppity wimmen out of a "real man's industry".

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PHWOAR, those noughty inks: '0.1%' named Stat of The Year

Kristian Walsh
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Re: 80% artificial...

First, population density and land use are two different measures. The UK can achieve high density in population centres and low land cover through extensive use of high-rise buildings. Consider the typical "tower block" units set in a large parkland setting - high population density, but low ground cover.

..is easily the most populous and built-up area of its size in Europe

No. Southeast England is one of the most densely populated regions of Europe, but it is not the most densely populated. That distinction belongs to Paris and the Ile-de-France.

"Greater London" (i.e., the area formerly controlled by the GLC) itself is the 13th most densely populated city in Europe, in between Den Haag (NL) and Madrid (ES). Paris again is first, with either Barcelona or Athens second, depending on whether you consider L'Hospitalet to be "in" Barcelona or not for the purposes of ranking.

On a more localised scale, some small Italian and Spanish cities achieve population densities that match the most populous parts of Asia, and Monaco is the most densely-populated country on Earth, simply because it's so small.

It's inadequate mass-transport investment, not density of population, that makes England seem crowded.

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Get ready for laptop-tab-smartphone threesomes from Microsoft, Lenovo, HP, Asus, Qualcomm

Kristian Walsh
Silver badge

Despite a >2x clock-speed advantage, the first 601 systems only had about 1.5 x the real performance of the 68040/40 it replaced; native code versus native code. Still a considerable jump, but not the "multiple times" that Apple touted. Benchmarks tended to favour the 601 as they could run within the generous 32k L1 instruction/data cache, but real applications running under an operating system never came close to that theoretical speed. Add the effort of emulating over half of the code within the OS, and the performance benefits of PowerPC really looked questionable: Bottom-left of the linked page here shows a benchmark of the 601 Macs against the 68040 Quadra line. Even allowing for an emulation penalty of over 50%, it's not pretty: https://archive.org/stream/MacWorld_9405_May_1994#page/n95/mode/2up

Basically, Apple's customers bought the 601 series on a promise of future performance, but it was one that Apple never delivered, and I think it was the root of the problems that nearly closed the company later in the 1990s. 604 and then 740/"G3" were the CPUs that eventually came good and showed the potential of PowerPC, but by then most people had moved to Pentium-powered Windows 95 desktops. "Fool me once..."

Coming back to Snapdragon, based on mobile benchmarks, the 835 is about 20% faster at integer workloads than the ~2Mhz Intel Core-m3 chips that are commonly used at this price-point. However, that might be understating the ARM chip's real performance potential: a processor running in a phone has a much more restricted TDP performance envelope - especially if the handset is water (and thus air) sealed. Give an 835 access to a bigger battery and the same cooling and ventilation as a laptop has, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it handily outperform the m3.

There should be enough extra processing power to cover the emulation overhead, especially as a lot has happened in this field since 1994. The advent of Java with its bytecode runtime later in the mid-1990s spurred on major improvements in CPU emulation techniques. By the time Apple changed ISAs again in 2004, there wasn't the same gap between "PowerPC" and "native Intel" code, and what gap there was was much less relevant because, this time, Apple shipped a 100% native-x86 OS with their new Intel systems. Microsoft is in that position too - there's a 100% native ARM build of Windows.

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Kristian Walsh
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. Except when running x86 code, it has to do three times as much work for each CPU instruction it's emulating. Doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

No, it'll work fine. Emulation will only happen for user-space code. The kernel and all system libraries/DLLs will be ARM-native. For the majority of productivity applications, 90% of time is either spent waiting for user actions, or executing system library functions, so the perceived performance hit will be minimal.

Now, If you're doing video-coding or protein-folding, or anything that does heavy computation, then sure, you're going to take a serious performance hit, but I think very few people buying laptops at the expected price-point of these devices will expect that kind of performance anyway.

There's precedent for doing this: When Apple moved its systems from 680x0 to PowerPC back in the 1990s, this was exactly how they managed the transition, and for productivity apps, the performance was good enough that you usually couldn't tell a native PPC app (or "fat-binary", one with both 680x0 and PPC code resources) from a 68k one without looking at the resource fork.

Actually, this is likely to be a better experience, as Apple's percentage of PPC code in System 7.x was barely 50% at launch of the first PPC systems. Successive system releases eventually got MacOS up to 100% PPC code, but it took a couple of years (68k MacOS was built in what I would politely describe as "its own special way" and that did include injecting pre-assembled 68k binary code in a couple of places; plus there were some instances of self-modifying code in the OS too for performance reasons).

Microsoft has pretty much all of Windows plus its DLLs as ARM code already. What people refer to as "Windows Phone 10" is basically Windows on ARM without win32.dll, but win32.dll also exists in an ARM build, as this was how they got Office to run on the original Surface RT, despite it not being a "Metro/Modern" app.

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Voyager 1 fires thrusters last used in 1980 – and they worked!

Kristian Walsh
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Re: how is assembler outdated and by what?

General Electric provided the CPU for Voyager, as they had for the earlier Viking system http://www.cpushack.com/space-craft-cpu.html

The RCA 1802 was launched barely a year before Voyager, so could never have been used. It did see use in NASA in the Magellan and Hubble projects over a decade later, which gives you an idea of how long these projects take to design and launch.

The CPUs in Voyager were 18-bit machines with 64 instructions. They seemed to be a one-off custom job for NASA, as GE never commercially offered a CPU, nor did any other GE minicomputer had such an odd word-length (although its 600-series was 36-bit). This would definitely confirm the "obsolete assembly language" part of the story.

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Wondering why your internal .dev web app has stopped working?

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Solution

Best job-interview question I've been asked (and have asked later) in recent years;

What is systemd?

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Tom Baker returns to finish shelved Doctor Who episodes penned by Douglas Adams

Kristian Walsh
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Re: DNA

There's also a Netflix "Dirk Gently" that is nothing to do with anything DNA did. Still quite entertaining and a suitably odd plot, but only Dirk Gently by name.

My impression of the Netflix series was: "there's no way in hell that a man as peaceful as DNA would ever have allowed such a bloody and violent script to be attached to his creation"

It's still worth a watch if you forget about the original Dirk (or the underrated BBC series which captured the tone of the books brilliantly), but I despaired when [without spoiling any plot points] it slipped into the hackneyed big-government conspiracy theory nonsense that ruins so many American Sci-Fi programmes...

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Munich council finds €49.3m for Windows 10 embrace

Kristian Walsh
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Re: AC "if it's C++ or something like it..."

Holy shit. "A simple recompile and rewrite the UI"? I'm not entirely sure if you're being sarcastic.

If not, all I can say is that you've probably never seen real-world, mature vertical-market applications. I once worked in a Fortune500 company whose entire software localisation workflow was contained in an "onClicked" handler on a proprietary forms API. The other state needed to process the job? That was read into other UI controls a priori, and extracted from there as needed.

That might be the worst example I've seen, but in my experience, implementing application logic, and even application state, in the UI layer is sadly the rule, not the exception. Even if the project was deployed with a clear separation of concerns, when bugs arise, changes get made in the lowest impact, most easily-reached piece of code, and developers assume that UI-layer changes are lower impact than in modules with scary names like "Core" or "Master Controller". Over time, functionality in large applications leeches from the centre out to the presentation layers. (I'm sure there's got to be a snappy name for this phenomenon...)

You're right that 80% of the job is thinking about what is actually needed, but show me an organisation that pays for "no code being produced". Misapplication of "Agile" methods (especially the incorrect assumption that no task can close without a source checkin) has made this worse.

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