* Posts by Kristian Walsh

1245 posts • joined 10 Apr 2007

Page:

Confessions of an ebook eater

Kristian Walsh

Re: Great article

16:9 panels were chosen for laptops because they were cheaper: the same 13" part could be used in a portable TV.

There's no evidence that they're better for reading text, whether side-by-side or one-up. The problem is that they lack height, and text is invariably written as tall pages of narrow columns. Look at how many websites (Reg included) pad out their layout left and right with the content in a narrow vertical column. There is a scientifically proven reason for this: it's to reduce the amount of horizontal tracking your eye needs to do between one line of text and another (similarly to how newspapers lay out text in narrow columns rather than long lines), so that you can read faster.

Wide displays don't offer any benefit for reading - even if you have two documents side-by-side, you will get to see more of them on a 3:2 or (better) a 4:3 display than you do with any of the widescreen displays. And that's before we look at how every GUI design peels precious vertical space away with toolbars/docks/menubars and window headers...

If there were laptops with 4:3 displays, I'd rave about them, but nobody makes them anymore. Surfaces seem to be the only range that has tried to move away from 16:9 and back towards the more work-friendly 4:3 ratio -- if there are others, I'd be delighted to hear about them.

5
0
Kristian Walsh

Re: Great article

...Sadly, that neat rule true only for the DIN A, B and C series of paper sizes. If you have to deal with the American paper sizes, you've just got to memorize the ratios, because they're all effectively random numbers: Letter is 1.29:1; Legal is just as wide, but taller, so 1.65:1. "Tabloid" is actually just 2 x Letter side by side, but because Letter was a non power-of-two ratio, the ratio of a double-sheet of it is a not-very-obvious 1.54:1... (American business resists metrification because it would cause "confusion"...)

The other neat A-series trick is how easy it is to calculate document weights: A0 has a surface area of exactly one square metre, so sixteen sheets of A4 paper (2^-4, or 1/16th of the area) has a weight that's exactly the gsm thickness of the paper stock. (80g for standard 80gsm copier paper) Try working the equivalent out starting from "pounds per uncut ream"...

Regarding screens, Microsoft's Surface line has the best screen aspect for reading A-series documents: its 3:2 display ratio (i.e., 1.5:1), is as near as dagnabbit the A-series 1.414 : 1 plus a tiny bit for a menu bar.

Hopefully, other manufacturers will follow suit: 16:9 is only good for movies.

10
0

Google goes home to Cali to overturn Canada's worldwide search result ban

Kristian Walsh

Re: Internet governance

One thing: "free speech" is the right to call the head of your particular government a sack of shit without them sending the police to your house in the middle of the night to spirit you away to a salt mine. It's a right of free expression, without threat of government reprisal. It is not a carte blanche to say whatever you want to whomever you want without having to deal with the consequences. If you call the guy in the bar a sack of shit, and he rightly punches you in the face for the insult, "free speech" is not a valid defence for your provocation.

A second example, which seems to be a problematical topic for the EFF and Google: if you "find" a movie/book/router design that someone else made online and you then make it available to other people as if you had been the given the right to do so by its owner, that's not "free speech" either: it's fraud, just as if I found a roll of ticket paper and used it to try to sell fake subway tickets.

Ultimately, all this "internet freedom" talk is just so much diversionary hogwash. Bluntly, Google doesn't want to police its index because it's an expensive thing to do, and as a monopoly, Google gains no value from efforts like this to make its product "better". Pretty much everyone already has to advertise via Google now, so any investment that doesn't directly shore up that monopoly is wasted spending. Every monopoly behaves like this eventually, and that, in a nutshell, is why monopolies are so bad for customers...

2
0

HMS Frigatey Mcfrigateface given her official name

Kristian Walsh

Re: great names like Revenge, Glorious, Implacable etc.

"Puncher" - not a good name for a rigid inflatable, though.

8
0

Good news: Samsung's Tizen no longer worst code ever. Bad news: It's still pretty awful

Kristian Walsh

Re: NaN

Just to state it clearly, the NaN test exemption doesn't apply to the code fragment shown in the article, as the expression shown in that code, "(x>x)", is never true for any type or value of x, NaN or otherwise*

* unless you overload operator>() to do something unrelated to testing for greater magnitude... In whcih case, I will find you and I will do bad things to you.

3
0

The life and times of Surface, Microsoft's odds-defying fondleslab

Kristian Walsh

Re: It is more a copy of ultrabooks than iPad Pro is a copy of it

The idea that the iPad Pro is a copy of Surface is laughable, they serve two completely different markets!

They don't, really. And that argument has been used multiple times in the opposite direction to explain why tablets like iPad didn't matter to the PC market, and it was equally incorrect then. You can get Microsoft Office on iPads these days, and that covers over half of the things people use computers for in "industry" - for everything else, there's RDP/Citrix.

The iPad Pro is absolutely Apple's copy of the Surface, and you'd have to be living well within Apple's world not to realise this. It adds the same physical advantages that Surface had over using an iPad for prolonged productivity work, and it adds them exactly the same way: with a bigger screen (obvious), a clip-on keyboard (why not a clamshell? why not wireless?) and a pen (oh, sorry, it's a "pencil"...)

One can claim that iPad Pro is "a better iPad for doing work" (not your words, but it's the gist of Apple's marketing of it), but that slogan also describes Surface.

For what it's worth, I've a Macbook Air and a Surface 3. The Macbook has a nicer keyboard, but the Surface lets me use it as a notepad. My next laptop will have touch input.

6
1
Kristian Walsh

"Metro" is dead. It was the touch-centric UI toolkit for Windows 8.x. Desktop users (understandably) hated its large controls, and it never got momentum as a tablet API.

Windows 10 UWP, the replacement, is best described as a touch-friendly desktop application toolkit. Hover your mouse over a scrollable pane, and the scrollbar appears, but if you drag the panel with your finger, it does intertial-flick scrolling as people now expect. More subtly, the item spacing of popup menu items is wider when you tapped to reveal the menu, but narrower when you clicked with the mouse to do so.

The downside is that app developers have to provide access to features through both mouse actions and finger gestures, but it can be done.

However, the big deal for Surface has been the stylus/pen. Unlike earlier attempts at PC-stylus interaction, the stylus and your finger are recognised as two separate types of input device, so you can pan and zoom with your left hand while writing with the pen in your right.

Actually, if you've got a pen, do get the "Plumbago" app from the Store - I've found it's the best replacement for a paper notepad for sketching out ideas (basically: it works like a good old-fashioned paper pad that also has undo and cut-n-paste)

6
3

Ubuntu Linux now on Windows Store (for Insiders)

Kristian Walsh

Nokia's Store and non-Store apps (Was Re: new fangled Windows Subsystem for Linux)

Nokia's app store was never exclusive. Symbian still allowed you to install anything you wanted, from anywhere you wanted. All you got was a warning dialog saying "This isn't from a verified publisher. Do you still want to install it?"

This made it very easy to send beta-test or distribute review copies of paid apps - just email your .sis file to the relevant people, and have them install it directly by tapping the file attachment in their email.

Back on topic, the reason MS has put this into Windows Store is the same reason that their other built-in apps are kept in the Windows Store: it puts all the non-OS parts under the same distribution and update infrastructure.

The product is called "Ubuntu on Windows" (although the technology that allows it is called the "Windows Subsystem for Linux"). Canonical are 100% involved in this, which is why the "Ubuntu" name can be used. The confusion is that people use "Linux" to describe the kernel as well as the kernel plus various GNU-based userspace tools that make a usable system, of which Ubuntu is one.

For "Ubuntu on Windows", WSL plus NT is the "kernel", Ubuntu's set of tools is the userspace.

And the reason that WINE emulates win32.dll rather than the "Windows Kernel" (a misnomer - the current kernel is called "NT"; "Windows 10" is the name of the current userspace) is that there wasn't just one "kernel" when WINE started: win32.dll is the abstraction layer that gave Windows NT and Windows 3.1/9x the same APIs, so that's the correct layer to intercept.

2
0

Bonkers call to boycott Raspberry Pi Foundation over 'gay agenda'

Kristian Walsh

Re: The Bible

Well, from this viewpoint I cannot see that drawing as anything other than two women and a couple of kids. So, pass on my small congratulations for depicting an adult female human in a cartoon illustration without resorting to just drawing a boy with boobs and long hair*

(* Yes, I know it was good enough for Michelangelo, but that was a long time ago...)

5
0

Exposed pipes – check. Giant pillows – check. French startup mega-campus opens

Kristian Walsh

Is that the office, or the on-site creche?

That first picture looks like nothing else but a pre-school.

8
0

Researchers solve screen glare nightmare with 'moth-eye' antireflective film

Kristian Walsh

Re: Not new

Looked amazing though - I saw one in the basement bit of Selfridges in London, which is lit up like a Christmas tree, and there was no visible reflection on the screen. Very expensive, though, and a little too fragile for the general market - if you didn't use the special cleaning cloth when wiping the screen, you could end up polishing the screen and reintroducing reflections.

4
0

Uber culture colonic cleanses CEO Kalanick

Kristian Walsh

Re: Common?

The words "Individuals in a Reporting Relationship" mean that the prohibition applies only to two people who are in a reporting relationship; i.e., where one reports to the other.

Individuals who are not in a reporting relationship are not covered by the prohibition.

Dating and the Org-Chart: doing horizontally is fine; doing it vertically may be complicated.

1
0

Labour says it will vote against DUP's proposed TV Licence reforms

Kristian Walsh

Re: @Pen-y-gors

If I were a crooked government official, feathering the nests of my pals with some other country's tax money, I wouldn't be in favour of an organization like the BBC either.

Anyone who wonders why DUP are so strongly against the BBC should look at BBC Northern Ireland's investigative reporting output which has exposed them to be on the take on more than one occasion (same goes for their opposition, the equally morally dubious Sinn Féin). Most recently, look at the Renewable Heating Incentive scandal in NI where DUP gave its chums a nice little profit at the cost of 450 million pounds of UK taxes.

10
4

Hotel guest goes broke after booking software gremlin makes her pay for strangers' rooms

Kristian Walsh

Re: @baspax ma1010 "Sounds like a lawsuit"

The retailer stores the CC information. They have to in order to charge the customer. So they have the full credit card number.

The retailer doesn't store this information.

That's done on behalf of the retailer by a card acquirer (the company who "does your credit card payments"). If the retailer wants to do additional charges against the same card later, they can ask the acquirer to return a reference (not calculated from the card details) to the customer's card. To make a charge, the retailer sends that reference, plus the desired amount, back to the acquirer. They can repeat this as often as they want. As the reference is just a random number, and can only be used to make purchases that benefit the one merchant, it doesn't fall under PCI-DSS rules.

No retailer would want to store card info in their computer system. Doing that opens them up to a £15k a year PCI-DSS compliance audit. By offloading the storage to a card acquirer, the merchant/retailer only has to fill out a fairly simple Self-assessment questionnaire to verify that they're following "good practice" (i.e., not scribbling down card numbers, dates and CVVs on post-it notes)

1
0
Kristian Walsh

thoughts... Re: ma1010 "Sounds like a lawsuit"

My guess is that they never accessed her card details at all, but instead repeatedly charged against a card-on-file token that they'd legitimately kept for her card. How they got to doing that could be one of those few differences between debit cards and credit cards, and how their booking system didn't properly deal with them. (I'd be surprised if the hotel's booking system itself ever handled the card details - that's normally handed off to a third-party service due to the high PCI-DSS compliance cost of doing it yourself).

What they're most likely doing is asking for the customer's details to be retained on file with their card acceptor service, for later use. The result of that operation is a random-ish payment token that can be given back to the acquirer to make charges against that card in future.

My guess is that she was, unfortunately, the first customer to present a debit (not credit) card to the hotel. Debit cards have a subset of the functions of a credit card, so the returned information from a card acceptor will be smaller set of fields than for a debit card, with some values set to NULL (or missing, which can be the same thing depending on how you process the response). And that's where I think the fun would have begun...

If I wanted to make this happen, here's how I'd do it:

1. The response from card acquirer has NULL for a field that "always" has a value when used with a credit card, but despite that, still contains a usable "charging" token that can be used to raise charges against the card.

2. The unexpectedly-NULL field is used as the first term in a concatenation operation to generate a key to identify that card, but because of concatenation-to-NULL, the whole result ends up as NULL.

3. As there's not a card on file already there with NULL as its local "unique" id, the victim's card token gets stored into the "cards on file" table with the "unique ID" of NULL, but the correct token.

4. That card-on-file ID (NULL) gets stored against the first customer's booking record.

5. (later) The hotel booking system looks up the token for the first customer and charges the customer.

But...

Another customer with a debit card arrives, and steps 1..3 repeat as before, but this time, because there's already a card on file with the "unique" ID of NULL, the first customer's charging token gets associated with the new customer's booking.

...Repeat until the first customer gets very,very mad..

Incidentally, PCI-DSS doesn't cover the handling of stored tokens such as this, as they cannot be used to reconstitute a customer credit card account, and they bind exactly one merchant to the card (you can give someone else the token you acquired, but if they use it, the money still goes into your merhcant account, not theirs).

7
0

The open source community is nasty and that's just the docs

Kristian Walsh

Re: >Behind closed doors, in the dark underworld of proprietary software

Well, I can only talk from direct experience, but while I worked at Apple, the bug database (RADAR) was viewable by any employee with an account. People who knew I worked in Apple, and had filed bugs against MacOS components sometimes asked me to "informally" see how -- or if -- the issues they reported were being followed up.

While doing so, I never saw an offensive or disparaging comment on any of these. Timewasters (both internal or external) were simply commented as a neutral "can't reproduce, behaves as documented; recommend close" and that was that. At worst it was "yes, this is a problem; yes, we know; no, we're not going to fix it any time soon"..

Maybe Apple was "different", but I really don't think so: I know people who worked at Microsoft and have similar experience. The difference is probably that when you're representing your employer in public you think twice before acting the dick, because your employer might take offence at what you're saying in their name... and decide that you'd be better off with a different employer.

Perhaps FOSS doesn't have that high penalty to pay for being a shit.

3
0

Apple gives world ... umm ... not much new actually

Kristian Walsh

Workstation with disposable screen...

Apple is calling this a "professional" system, but it's not. A professional system in the markets that Apple still has presence in will usually have multiple, colour-calibrated displays attached to it. Each of those displays probably cost more than the $5000 Apple is asking for this all-in-one unit. Bundling the monitor with it is nuts: it's just getting the customer to pay more for something they didn't want and won't use..

Realy, how hard is this for Apple? All they've got to do is look at their own website in Wayback Machine and find the "XServe" product from the early 2000's. Update the CPUs, and make one of those. It'd fit neatly into the rack with the dedicated disk-array holding the enormous asset files the user is working on.

(I've seen the rubbish-bin Mac Pros in use, and they quickly turn into a rats' nest of cables and external storage devices)

This, like all of Apple's current range, is a product for hobbyist users. Nothing wrong with that, but to say that it's a solution for professional customers is naive at best, and insulting at worst.

14
4

Microsoft totters from time machine clutching Windows 10 Workstation

Kristian Walsh

Re: That's probably 10 years to late

Very little workstation-class software runs on macOS anymore, because Apple stopped making workstation-class hardware nearly a decade ago. (People forget that before the "dustbin" Mac Pro was left to wither, the previous Mac Pro tower was also left in semi-abandonment by Apple for a couple of years).

7
0

Windows is now built on Git, but Microsoft has found some bottlenecks

Kristian Walsh

300 Gb isn't everything...

Some divisions of Microsoft are not part of this project. Based on a comment in an earlier posting about this migration, the Bing group does use git, but doesn't keep its code in this super-repo. Apparently, they use sub-repos in their setup, and again apparently it has been a major pain in the metaphorical ballsack to keep everything in sync.

This is the big problem with sub-repos; you end up having to manually keep things in sync, whereas a "one big repo" solution makes it a lot harder for a dev to commit something to the head of their component that won't build against the head of every other component.

0
0

The revolution will not be televised: How Lucas modernised audio in film

Kristian Walsh

Lucas and the importance of sound

I'm in the camp that says George Lucas was a groundbreaking director rather than a great one: others took his techniques and made much better films with them than he did, but in sound design particularly, he was a real pioneer. Lucas's early features, "THX-1138", "American Grafitti" and "Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope)" all deserve their places in the list of best films of the 1970s.

For anyone in doubt about how far back George Lucas's understanding of the importance of audio in a film goes, have a quick skip through this, which is his student film from USC (later used as the basis for Lucas's 1971 debut feature, "THX-1138"):

Electronic Labyrinth - THX-1138 4EB

Okay, as a student film, this isn't just low budget; it's no budget, so it's a trying watch at times. But the thing to note is how well Lucas used the audio track. After the pre-title sequece, there's nothing that you could call "dialogue", just a layered soudscape of radio chatter that builds up over the running time to provide tension.

7
0

Emissions cheating detection shines light on black box code

Kristian Walsh

FCA case...

The article doesn't go inot much detail about the Fiat-Chrysler case, and from the discussion of the code, it's really about the VW emissions cheating. FCA's case is different; here's a summary:

The EPA examined the engine control software of FCA's 3.0 litre V6 diesel (made by FCA subsidiary VM-Motori) fitted to some RAM pickups and Jeep vehicles and found a few control loops that they felt would affect emissions in some cases. The behavior changes weren't major, but EPA claimed they could affect the emissions results (resulting in a fail in some tests which passed in the lab).

The charge against FCA is not that they are actively attempting to defeat the emissions test, but rather that they did not fully disclose these addition control systems in the engine software. Unlike the VW trick, these are all possible to trigger in normal driving conditions, but like the VW trick, they are always active in the EPA test cycle.

Strangely, had FCA told EPA about these up front, there may not have been any case to answer - the US rules state that you disclose everything to EPA, and they judge whether it's material to the real emissions performance of the vehicle.

The Volkswagen case is an order of magnitude more serious than anything else in the industry: it represented co-ordinated planning by VW to misrepresent the engine under test in order to allow them to sell a diesel engine in the USA that they knew beforehand would never meet US emissions regulations in any normal mode of operation.

6
0

Fancy a relaxed boozy holiday? Keep well away from Great Britain

Kristian Walsh

Re: What a complete crock of shit....

Never mind that countries more free from us, are the same countries where the local copper will kick the shit out of you / take a cash bribe.

Have you ever been to Germany or the Czech Republic? Offering a bribe in Germany will get you a trip to the local cop-shop without question; in Czech Republic you'll do a little better, but only because you won't be instantly arrested, but attempting to bribe a cop is an easy way to convince them to not let you on your way with an informal warning...

(I once lived in Germany, and am a regular visitor to CZ)

3
0
Kristian Walsh

Re: Fucking stupid stuff

Just to throw a mild incendiary into this discussion: There is no sound scientific basis for the belief that excess salt consumption raises blood pressure. It's one of those things that became "common knowledge" without passing through rigorous scientific examination (similarly to the idea that "fat makes you fat" - it doesn't; simple starches are much more effective - just ask any Sumo)

It seems that salt is one factor in blood pressure at the personal level, but not a consistent one across a population of people. Even at the individual level, responses to sodium vary: for some it increases BP; for others it decreases it, and some show no effect. This difference of response means that across every broad population study, no significant link between sodium intake and hypertension has been found.

Here's a summary from Scientific American

It remains true that excessive salt consumption can cause other medical issues, but hypertension is not one of them... in general. If you, specifically, react to salt with elevated blood pressure, then you, specifically, should cut down your salt intake.

And if you're moved to change your diet as a result of this post, for goodness sake go to a doctor first. Taking medical advice from a software developer like me is a good course to misery and early death.

6
0

Scratch the Surface: Slabtop sales slump takes the shine off Microsoft's 2017 so far

Kristian Walsh

Re: Old Tech

Here, with pictures, is how you get Ubuntu to run on Surface Book: https://askubuntu.com/questions/741851/using-ubuntu-on-microsoft-surface-book

That's pretty easy.

Now, I'll grant that some input device features don't work, but that's nothing to do with Microsoft: it's a lack of driver support in the Linux kernel for the hardware used in Surface Book. The touchscreen is a new part, as is the pen interface, and the higher-spec Books' detachable GPU is something that hasn't had to be supported before in Linux...

People are working on these drivers (with varying levels of support from the component makers, as is always the case), but as they're a work-in-progress you won't find them in the stock Debian/RedHat/Ubuntu/etc kernel, so you'll need to patch your kernel and live with the shortcomings until the hardware support gets good enough to ship by default.

That, to me seems no different from the situation for any other new device... unless you somehow expected Microsoft to spend its development budget writing device drivers for Linux, when this is something they don't even do for Windows (most of the driver work is done by the device manufacturers)

8
1

Oh dear, Prime Minister! Nearly 100 Beeb bosses make more than you

Kristian Walsh

Re: Bloody Stupid Metric

Also, a former PM gets a 70k/year pension (up to 50% of salary, basically) in exchange for about 7 years* in the job. This is, I believe, payable from the day they leave. Plus you get a security detail and a driver for life. Other wealthy people have to pay for services like that.

This isn't an unusual arrangement in international terms, but if you work out the private-pension contributions that'd be required for such a retirement income, and then scale them back to even ten years of contributions.

(* a mental back-of-envelope calculation of the average UK PM's term in office since Margaret Thatcher, but as she and Tony Blair both managed 10 years, they're undoubtedly skewing the average upwards).

0
0

Uber cloaked its spying and all it got from Apple was a slap on the wrist

Kristian Walsh

Re: Rules

The App Store mode is not "flat". Like most things presented as a pure meritocracy, the App Store is not a level playing field. If a headline app-maker wanted to do something Apple doesn't normally allow, then they can talk directly to Apple and get an exemption, and they usually do. (Imagine what would happen if a major user-magnet like Snapchat wanted to do something not in the TOS... you think Apple would pull Snapchat off iOS? Really?)

Doing this is in Apple's interest, if not in the interests of its other developers. iPhone sales are primarily built on the assurance that whatever app you're looking for will be in the App Store. Right now, buying an iPhone is a cast-iron guarantee of never missing out on the next big mobile service -- everything launches on iOS, and while most new offerings launch on both iOS and Android, some leave Android to their "expansion" phase. (I'm not talking about utilities or games, but the "new" service apps that are relentlessly advertised on mass-media outlets).

If a big-name property was suddenly made unavailable on iOS, it would send a big signal to customers and potential customers that, actually, iOS owners can be left out of the loop too. That puts iOS on the same level as Android to the vast majority of customers, and that's a dangerous position to be in when your devices cost so much more.

0
0

Don't stop me! Why Microsoft's inevitable browser irrelevance isn't

Kristian Walsh

Re: Hacking.

And, for some damn reason, they seem to be chock full o' security craters, waiting for some 0-day to exploit!

The "some damn reason" is the one given in the quote: the products are a primary target for hackers. The most successful way to find something is to look for it, which brings me to...

An advantage of open source browsers is the potential for peer review and contributed patches.

I'll give you "contributed patches", but peer-review is only potential. The "million eyeballs" is a fallacy that has given project maintainers an unjustified sense of security in the past. Really there's only about a thousand or so eyeballs on anything, but more seriously, code is mostly screened only at entry to the codebase, rather than by systematic review of the whole source (a daunting task, that very few commercial vendors do; but unlike OSS, they can at least hire a hundred devs and force them to pick through the code).

Security vulnerabilities aren't like ordinary bugs - they don't disrupt the normal operation of a tool, so users are unlikely to spot them. You have to look for them to find them.

13
4

Microsoft's in-store Android looks desperate but can Google stop it?

Kristian Walsh

Re: Not the same...

The fact that few bother, is simply because the Google offerings are so good, you would need a bottomless pit of money to do so.

No, that's not the reason.

The fact that few bother is that access to the Android App Store is tied to accepting Googles other services too. There's no mix-and-match: it's all or nothing.

If an OEM wants its customers to have access to apps, that OEM must agree to bundle all of Google's services as the default for their category.

There's lots of OEMs who'd actually pay Google for the right to use the App Store in isolation, but for some reason, downloading and updating third-party software requires a phone that's running Google Docs and gMail too.. Google says everything is interconnected, which is odd, because the result of United States v. Microsoft said that this was a bullshit excuse nearly twenty years ago... and it's still a bullshit excuse today.

9
0

BMW chief: Big auto will stay in the driving seat with autonomous cars

Kristian Walsh

Re: Well...

The big brands are not unaware of this shift at all, but this isn't the usual tech story of one overarching monopoly being toppled by a disruptive newcomer that then becomes a monopoly (and repeat...) - the car business is far more diverse, and doesn't gravitate to one pole the way IT does.

If there's something you're not considering, I think it's how the average customer will treat autonomy. For personal transport, it's not a product category, but rather a feature. An important feature, but a feature nonetheless, and one that may not be too desirable outside of the unique traffic environment of the mass-transit-starved SF Bay. [ Freight and logistics is a completely different matter, but nobody in "tech" seems to care about goods transport, because they don't own vans ]

You drive a BMW. BMW does not make its own transmissions. It relies on specialist companies (Getrag and ZF-Friedrichshafen at present) to provide it with suitable systems. Similarly, everything in the interior of your car is made not by BMW, but by other companies: Adient (seats), Faurecia (dashboard trim), Magnetti Marelli (switchgear and instrumentation, and external lighting).

So, let's say BMW wants to make autonomous cars on one side, and Uber/Google/whoever wants to make autonomous cars on the other. Whereas the Silicon Valley people have to source and build everything around their big feature to make a car from it, the likes of BMW simply has to find one of the many autonomous-vehicle companies and strike a deal with them to build that killer feature into a BMW.

This is how the car business works. Most "innovative technologies" pioneered by car brands are from third-party suppliers who specialise in these things.

If it's "just mechanical engineering", why has Waymo/Google abandoned its grand plans to build autonomous cars, and partnered with Fiat-Chrysler instead? Google can get the userbase it wants without having to put pour to twenty billion dollars into developing a wide-range car manufacturing business, in an already fiercely competitive market with narrow margins and an unknown chance of success.

2
0

Is your iOS app piling on weight? Blame Xcode 8.3: We shed light on Apple's bloat riddle

Kristian Walsh

That does sound plausible, and it fits the general disarray and lack of planning that's surrounded Swift since its launch. ("well, we looked at the mess that is Python 2/3 and thought 'hey, we're Apple, our developers will totally follow us when WE break source-code compatibility!")

As for even including bitcode in submissions in the first place, I can see two reasons: first, it's easier to screen the Intermediate Language inside those files than the optimised machine-code that actually gets run, so bitcode makes it easier to find unauthorised API calls, malware, or anything else that Apple doesn't want to accept. The second is that I'd imagine that Apple was simply leaving the door open for Intel-powered iThings, or ARM-powered macThings (or, heaven-forfend, a touch-enabled Mac that could run iOS apps?).

Microsoft does this second bit already with its Universal Windows Platform: your submission is in CIL (the interpreted byte-code used by all .Net languages), which the Store backend compiles down to a native x86 or ARM binary as appropriate depending on your target platforms.

(and, one small thing? Apple's contribution to the technology world having too many programming languages is called "Swift". It's not an acronym, it's just a word. "SWIFT", in capitals, is how banks transfer money between each other.)

7
1

New plastic banknote plans now upsetting environmental campaigners

Kristian Walsh

Re: Everything is offensive to some people

Er, no. Almost all biodiesel comes from rapeseed and soy. However, small producers in the USA have made use of waste animal and fish fats to produce the fuel too, if you're looking for irony.

Palm Oil really is too valuable to just burn: consumers in industrialised nations will pay top-dollar for it as a food ingredient, so food is where most of the world's production goes (especially in the West, where it's used as a vegetarian-friendly substitute for lard or suet in pastry and baked goods), and that's why planters are deforesting huge swathes of the Tropics to grow it.

0
1

Creators Update gives Windows 10 a bit of an Edge, but some old annoyances remain

Kristian Walsh

Re: Auto Wastebasket purging based on date?

The word "wastebasket" is unknown in written English before the British-English version of the Macintosh system. It was coined by someone in Apple's Engineering department because the proper translation, "wastepaper basket", was too long to fit on the icon label.

"Bin", the direct translation of "Trash[can]", may have been ruled out because of the word's meaning as an abbreviation of "binary", or maybe it just looked too short on-screen.

Translating this wasn't exactly Apple's finest hour, and there's a certain fascination with wickerwork running through these. German used "Papierkorb", which, while at least being a real German word, was one that didn't universally mean "trashcan" - I have heard more than one German use the word to refer to an in-tray (literally it means a "basket for papers"). The French translation, "corbeille", gave up on the concept of paper altogether, and so simply meant a basket of any kind, including one you'd use for fruit or flowers.

However, I'm deliberately using the past-tense for all these, because over the three decades, the repeated use of these translations in computer interfaces has retroactively given them the originally-intended meaning. "Wrong" words become "right" words once they're understood by enough people...

5
0
Kristian Walsh

Falcon

Ah, so it was you who bought the third one... ;)

Pleased to meet you after all these years.

6
0

BDSM sex rocks Drupal world: Top dev banished for sci-fi hanky-panky

Kristian Walsh

Re: @Paul

Yeah let's not forget the feminists. They're behind everything, aren't they?

Before you run off thinking this is uppity wimmen making your life difficult again, consider first that bigots will use any acceptable veneer to mask their prejudices, be that religion, concern for children's safety or gender equality. What the announcement said was "this person engages in sexual practices I don't approve of". This time it's wrapped in nebulous concerns about "gender equality", rather than "think of the children", but it's the same nasty sentiment that's been used before.

Honestly, I can't say this sort of thing is my idea of fun. Much like the game of golf, I'm happy for other people to derive pleasure from it, so long as I don't have to watch or partake... or hear about it constantly.

What these groups are doing is consensual, and primarily for sexual fun. If the histories of key members of the British Establishment has taught us anything, it's that a penchant for being tied up and whipped in the bedroom is not an indicator of being submissive and oppressed when the daylight hours arrive. Enjoying something in the bedroom doesn't mean you live the rest of your life that way (and although it help the staffing shortages in hospitals, we probably want trained medical staff at the bedside...)

Gender equality really is a red-herring. Swap the genders (or go for same-sex pairs), and you'll find there's an equally popular subculture there.

Taking this play, or the attitudes that go with it, outside of the bedroom and into real life would definitely be grounds for getting the boot from any sane organisation, but there is zero evidence, from this report, that he ever did this.

28
3

Linus Torvalds explains how to Pull without jerking his chain

Kristian Walsh

Re: git shit

I use git, and don't find it tedious. It's very good at doing what it does - managing multiple changes to large source-code repositories. Like all good tools, it's flexible, and can be used in a variety of ways.

I find that "git" becomes a problem in organisations that held the expectation that adopting a popular source-control tool would make up for their lack of a source-control process.

Usually, these places not only adopt git but then they follow that up by cribbing the workflow of the Linux kernel, it being the most famous project to use git. The result: people get mired in a pointless bureaucracy that makes sense for a globally-distributed contributor model, but is utterly insane for one office with twenty developers in it.

Like everything in tech, those in charge of the decision then focus on the tool rather than look at the way it was used. No doubt whenever something cooler than git arrives, everyone will jump on that and make the same mistakes there.

(Just look at how everyone who couldn't design a proper web application in PHP, C# or Java has now given way to people to building the same unmaintainable rubbish web applications in Rust, Rails, Go or Node... )

14
0

Can you ethically suggest a woman pursue a career in tech?

Kristian Walsh

Re: "We need to promote women disproportionately, pay them equally or better..."

I do agree with you that the US university culture is where this starts. Segregating adults by sex seems an odd way of running "societies", especially when most of these adults have been brought up in a culture that regards sexuality of all kinds as something vaguely sinful.

When you add the typical autism-spectrum lack of social awareness that runs through the "technology" industry, and then hand these guys a few million dollars of power, it's not surprising that Silicon Valley is a cesspool of misogyny and sexual harassment.

Of course, part of the unique problem of startups is that the big investors only trust a certain type of person: white, male, under 30 and a monomaniac with zero regard for anyone else but themselves (they'll say "focussed and disruptive", but let's not mince words). Basically, VCs are selecting for dicks, and then acting surprised when the guy they gave money to acts like a complete dick.

51
7

Apple's macOS is the safer choice – but not for the reason you think

Kristian Walsh

Re: macOS

Yes that'd be a conclusion one would draw from a limited exposure to macOS..

I used Macs almost exclusively for about two decades*, including OSX from it's beginning, and there's been more than a few times I've discovered something that had me shaking my head and saying "isn't it just as well nobody bothers with Mac malware..."

MacOS is not "safer"; it's just that its vulnerabilities haven't been discovered and exploited as ruthlessly as those of Windows.

(* ... Which means I can remember back to the times when Macs did get viruses. Luckily back in the 90s, viruses didn't do much more than print a stupid message and hang your system, but they certainly did exist on Macs)

1
0

81's 99 in 17: Still a lotta love for the TI‑99/4A – TI's forgotten classic

Kristian Walsh

Re: TI was backwards

In low-level communications, bits are numbered in transmission order, and bytes are transmitted from most to least significant bits (as far as I can tell, only by convention). Put those two things together and the MSB is bit 0, because it is first one that gets put out onto the wire or broadcast into the aether. (This convention of transmitting bits from most to least significant is also why "network" byte order is Big-Endian).

CPU people went with LSB =#0 on the grounds that it made more mathematical sense - it matches the power-of-two value of that bit position.

3
0

Apple to Europe: It's our job to design Ireland's tax system, not yours

Kristian Walsh

That is nothing like the "classic" definition.

Fascism isn't "rule by corporation". Fascism is concentration of control. It strips corporations of their freedom to operate in their own interests, just as it strips the general population, religious organisations, the media and the legal system of those same freedoms. Like every other structure in a fascist state, corporations become an instrument of the rulers' power, but they are not the source of that power.

Under fascism, you do what the leadership wants, or you go to prison and are replaced by someone who will do what the leadership wants. That applies to you whether you're a journalist, a builder, or the head of a corporation.

Both Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia were fascist states. The surface rhetoric was different, but they themselves designed that rhetoric, so why should we believe it at face value? Take away the claimed ideologies, and you see that they had the same structure: a concentration of power around a single figurehead leader, with every facet of the nation coerced into obeying the will of this small ruling clique.

Fascism is also not a financial system, except that regardless of the financial structures used, all the riches of a nation ultimately flow to the rulers: to go back to Hitler again, the NS regime in Germany promised protectionism and nationalisation before election, but once elected, started with extensive privatisation and free-market deregulation, then later veered towards a protected, centrally-planned economy once the regime had decided to go to war. Across all these economic positions and forms of financial regulation, however, it remained a fascist government.

[query to the judging panel: does comparing Stalin to Hitler count as an instance of Godwin's Law?]

1
0
Kristian Walsh

Re: Ireland doesn't want it's £11Bn windfall

You'll get it back when it's due. Payments are on schedule, and a total of £315 million in interest has been paid to HMG since the loans were first issued.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/559311/Loans_to_ireland_oct_web.pdf

3
0

'At least I can walk away with my dignity' – Streetmap founder after Google lawsuit loss

Kristian Walsh

Sorry, it is you who are completely missing the point to jump straight to an "everything's sexism, isn't it?" argument.

The commenter did not read the article with enough attention to even note that the defendant was a woman. That's a pretty basic thing to get wrong, especially as her name is in the very first sentence (and "Kate" isn't exactly an ambiguous name), and the article repeatedly uses the word "she" throughout. Not knowing this basic fact is a strong indication that the they merely skimmed the headline and the last paragraph.

I think it's entirely fair to call someone out on making strong assertions based on the most glancing skim over what was actually written. ...If only in solidarity with the poor bastards who have to work for managers who do it day in, day out.

2
0

In colossal shock, Uber alleged to be wretched hive of sexism, craven managerial ass-covering

Kristian Walsh

Re: Just look at Uber's CEO

Here's "what she said", as you forgot to include the quote in your rebuttal:

On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn't. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn't help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with.

There's no other way to read that except as a proposal for sex. That something like this happened on her first day reporting to that manager says a lot about how fucked up Uber is as a workplace.

21
1

Coming to the big screen: Sci-fi epic Dune – no wait, wait, wait, this one might be good

Kristian Walsh

Re: No Giger

I thought the design of the stillsuits in the Lynch movie owed a lot to Giger's style, but there's not much else I could pick out.

Oh, and thanks for the heads-up on Valerian. Had a quick look at the teaser, and visually, my first reaction was: "at last, a sci-fi film with a full colour gamut!" The Hollywood habit of grading all films into a narrow band along the teal-orange axis is so prevalent that it's only when you see someone who doesn't do it, you realise how drab everything else has become.

Fifth Element was visually amazing, but let down a little by its storyline, so this shows some promise if they hold on to the source material.

1
0
Kristian Walsh

@P.B. Lecavalier - publication order.. mea culpa.

My mistake - as I said, it is a long time since I read these!

I seems I've mixed up the order completely. So: all of my previous comments actually refer to one or other of the last two books (which would be "Heretics of Dune" or "Chapter-house: Dune"); the author's introduction I was referring to was also from there.

2
0
Kristian Walsh

Re: I am obviously alone in this.

IIRC, when the Navigator turns up in Dune Messiah, that's exactly what happens

Ah, but that book was written after the film was produced. It's a long time since I read these, but I remember with that book in particular thinking "oh, that's just like the film" several times, whereas the earlier descriptions don't necessarily match the production design of the Lynch/De Laurentis film at all.

In his foreword for that book, Herbert echoes some of the praise and criticisms of the film: the production design impressed him greatly, but he felt that the final theatrical release was not long enough to capture the story he'd written. Interestingly, (and again, if memory serves) he mentioned that for some reason the shooting script worked out at enough for at least a pair of films, running to over four hours, and when this was whittled down to under two hours, a lot of important exposition and background was jettisoned.

It's certainly a film like the voiceover-less versions of Bladerunner(*): if you already know what the hell's going on, you can sit back and enjoy the spectacle, but viewed cold, it does a poor job of answering viewer's questions about why stuff is happening.

(* for the record, I think the one without the voiceovers is superior, but only if you've seen the film before; if you haven't, then the voiceovers do fill in some of the film's more elliptical moments... think of them like the introductory descriptions in an opera programme)

5
1

'Treat your developers like creative workers – or watch them leave'

Kristian Walsh

"A cutting edge interior design by the John Frum Partnership..."

I'll preface this reply by saying that I consider myself a "creative" person, and a "people" person, but:

I hate "cool" offices. They remind me of really good mental health facilities. Outwardly pleasant and cheery, but only to compensate for the fact that nobody who is there really wants to be there.

I tend to agree with "pay me more money" but for I'd express it as "let me work shorter hours".

I also don't want free food or soft-drinks - for me, as for many other people, eating is a stress response, and sitting at a desk for long hours to meet a contrived deadline is already bad enough for my health without adding excessive salt, fat and sugar consumption to the mix. Again, I'd prefer to work somewhere where there's good enough management to ensure that going home after eight hours is the norm, with very low deviation from that.

As for furniture, I actually love designer furniture ... in houses, or hotels, or bars, but I really don't need it at work. However, ergonomics is much more important and often forgotten completely in the rush to make a visual impact. I've seen lots of places with "cool" furniture that cannot adapt properly to very short or very tall people sitting at the desk. A pretty office space might be good for morale, but back-pain outweighs it, I'm afraid.

Also, I don't see any problem with people of either sex wearing dresses in work provided that it's what they feel comfortable wearing : a good workplace is one where nobody feels like they're unwelcome, and again that has nothing to do with graffiti-art commissions, in-house massage therapy or Nerf guns (save me from grown men playing with children's toys...).

Too many start-ups adopt a "cargo cult" approach to offices - trying to reproduce the superficial props that they see in good places to work, without realising that those are the (often self-funded) result of employees who enjoy coming to work, not the cause.

16
0

Irish townsfolk besieged by confused smut channel callers

Kristian Walsh

Re: Nothing New...

And the issue of heavily-advertised UK numbers causing problems in Ireland isn't new either.. Back in the 1970s, the Dublin number (01) 811 805 had to be removed from the numbering plan for reasons that would be obvious to anyone who ever watched any of the BBC's Saturday morning TV shows. (UK TV was, and is, widely available and widely watched in the Republic)

Later, and more relevant to this story, when the country's second GSM licensee was running its initial trials, they discovered residential calls were being routed onto their test network. As they hadn't publicised the numbers, it was something of a surprise, and they initially suspected a fault with the landline operator (also operator of the competitor GSM network, so relations weren't cordial)

As it turns out, the cause was that the Irish telecoms regulator had allocated the new network 089 as a dialling prefix* (at the time, the analogue service was 088, and the incumbent GSM operator, 087), but at this time a large number of the late-night one-handed-use numbers in the UK all began with 0898, so Irish viewers were trying to reach those lines and were being routed into the new mobile network, which was something that would be a problem once the 089 number space filled up with customers.

In order to stop this, the operator asked for a new code and was given 086 instead. Since then, 089 has been resurrected for a selection of MVNOs (Tesco, Carphone Warehouse, Lyca..), but that's only because the UK's wank lines have moved to a new prefix that instead bothers the people of Mayo.

There's no reverse problem because a. Irish smut numbers are isolated under the 1598 prefix, which will never connect to a personal customer under the UK plan, and b. there's very little overspill of Irish media advertising into the UK (outside of Northern Ireland)

(* I was determined to get through this post without mentioning STD ... oh, except then)

1
0

Make America, wait, what again? US Army may need foreign weapons to keep up

Kristian Walsh

Re: Military-industrial 101

Mini wasn't the first unibody car, by a long way..

Honours for developing the unibody are split between Lancia of Italy and US automotive contractor Budd (who provided designs to first Citroen for the Traction Avant, and then Chrysler for its Air-Flow). Lancia used the techniques first, but as their application was an open-cockpit racing car ("torpedo"), there was never an opportunity to create a fully closed cell.

Mini also wasn't the first transverse, front-engine, front-drive car, as this configuration dates from the late 1940s, with DKW and SAAB both using this layout. Issigonis's design was revolutionary for combining many modern design ideas into a single, affordable and usable car. Unfortunately, some of these didn't really work out, and later Mini models moved away from them (going back to steel-spring suspension, for instance). The honour of "creator of the modern front-drive car" probably has to be shared with Dante Giacosa at FIAT, who developed the Autobianchi Primula, then the FIAT 127 and 128, which between them set down the architectural pattern for nearly every FWD car that followed afterwards. But these designs built on what Issigonis had done with the Mini (as well as his earlier work on the FIAT 500 of 1957)

7
0

Seven pet h8s: Verity is sorely vexed

Kristian Walsh

@Voyna I Mor Re: "The Go language does this very nicely." ?

Yes, I mentioned Slavic languages in a follow-up post, as one reason why building strings in code is a really bad idea.

Welsh is the only living language that can beat the Slavic family on complexity of pluralisation rules, but these are actually quite rigid rules, and can be expressed simply by code. Here is the list of pluralisation rules for most of the world's languages:

http://www.unicode.org/cldr/charts/27/supplemental/language_plural_rules.html

Localisation toolkits like GNU Gettext have a pluralisation mechanism built in, which lets you selects the correct string for the value you're inserting ("%d day" or "%d days"), before inserting the value. It's also not limited to just two options, and the logic to select between the options is general enough to support any pluralisation scheme. If you want to know more, it's documented here: https://www.gnu.org/software/gettext/manual/gettext.html#Plural-forms

If you're not on Linux (or a framework that relies on Gettext for its localisation), you can still use the same procedure, with only a small amount of additional code. The trick is knowing that you might have to do this; once you know you need to do it, implementing it is trivial. (I use a small C# class called PluralStringFormatter that implements this logic; with a "string selector" object that's implements the string selection according to the current locale )

1
0
Kristian Walsh

Re: "The Go language does this very nicely." ?

. That's why concatenating an UTF string with a generic byte sequence is "risky" - you can obtain an invalid UTF string

Byte concatenation of two well-formed UTF-8 strings results in one well-formed UTF-8 string. If you find yourself wondering about input strings that are likely to contain UTF-8 multibyte codes, it's a very strong sign that you shouldn't be doing anything at all with the "characters" that are inside them.

(Besides, byte-drops in UTF-8 are detectable by code, unlike older multibyte systems like Big5 or Shift-JIS where it's impossible to tell a corrupted sequence from an intentional input without using statistical analysis)

Code should not try to write text. The smallest unit of text that you can legitimately concatenate is the sentence. Value insertion, not concatenation, is how you format text that will be read by a human.

The problem is that Unix and its descendants are designed around the assumption that there's really no difference between human-readable and machine-readable data.

6
1

Page:

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017