* Posts by Charlie Clark

4610 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

'Just give me any old date and I'll make it work' ... said the VB script to the coder

Charlie Clark
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Re: Every tried to write a free text to date converter?

I'm just a hobbyist coder (which I suspect will be obvious), but not finding what I wanted from the commercial options, I wrote my wife's law firm's client management program back in 2000 using vbscript and ASP. I eventually saw the light and rewrote it in PHP under LAMP in 2007

So much not to like. The best way for generic conversion of text forms of dates and times always uses regexes: use some heuristics to detect the pattern use and apply it. The relevant patterns exist for almost every language.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Dates are a bitch

For example, much as I love Python, I find it quite galling that you have to jump through hoops to json-ize a simple datetime. That's one big thing javascript got right, having a native date type.

Python has had a native date type for a long time now. OTOH the JSON module in the standard library is both slow and cumbersome to extend.

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Charlie Clark
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WTF?

Re: People Love to hate VBA

Do you really mean VBA or VB?

I can think of some nice things to say about VB, or more basically BASIC, as it was the first language I ever came across.

But VBA is an unmitigated disaster.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Finding dates and times in text

Many of the announcements are in a narrative posting - so a function is needed to identify and extract the possible future date/time from a mass of text.

Well, the

<time />
element was supposed to help there but seeing as it does not require the browser to render the value in the user's locale, it was basically just another abortive microformat: worked required by users but only for the benefit of computers.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: DD-MON-YYYY - make your minds up!

I said exactly the same and massive downvoting

Nope you said: yyyy/mm/dd

YYYY-MM-DD is ISO 8601 which is why it gets all the votes. Have another downvote.

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Swedish publishers plan summer ‘Block Party’ to thwart ad blockers

Charlie Clark
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Re: Good Luck

It's time for a "payments API".

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Charlie Clark
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Re: I dumped AdBlock

Yeah, in the arms race of blockers vs. blocker blockers (sounds like some kind of challenge from "The Double Deckers") I know who I'd put my money on.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Blocking the blockers is trivial

But adverts for yourself on your own site don't pay well. Most websites want to use advert networks - which require externally hosted content...

They still can: the ads get served async from the server from the content server. Gives the content-owner more power and takes the tracking problems out of the equation. This is the real value of the ad networks: they know that I also visit the website of the over-80's nude leapfrog team… Though because they only run collaborative filtering this actually adds little value: you book a holiday and subsequently see lots of ads for holidays.

No, the real threat is the move towards the private internet of Facebook's "instant articles" et al. :-(

Good article about this on The Awl.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Playing Devil's advocate...

Why should the publishers care about losing page visits from users who aren't "paying" by viewing ads?

Because they still need to have lots of visitors to be interesting for advertisers.

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LG builds a DAB+ digital radio radio into a smartmobe

Charlie Clark
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Re: DAB would have some great potential if you get propper equipment

I mean audio takes rather little data, so how about building a radio that just records everything that's on?

Well, that's basically up to the software. I think there are plenty of DAB receivers that do allow the stream to be recorded but the UI quickly becomes the problem.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Not everyeone has Spotify

I mainly listen to the news on the radio.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: DAB, DAB+ and Digital Radio Mondial

The only radio station I listen to in Germany (Deutschlandfunk) has terrible reception on FM. I had to get a DAB radio in order to be able to listen to it.

DAB does use more power than FM but it still uses a lot less than any form of streaming. It handles frequency changes when travelling much better than FM and can do without an external antenna.

So, on the whole: well done LG.

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Steve Ballmer: Get the Facts. I 'love' SQL Server on Linux

Charlie Clark
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Re: Let's be honest!

Balmer is a bigger embarrassment than Microsoft Bob

I'm not Ballmer fan, but look at dividend and stock price growth during his tenure. He did a great job for shareholders, of which he remains the largest.

Yes, he bought AQuantive, Skype and Nokia all of which subsequently saw massive write downs. Yes he was responsible for Windows 8 (but also Windows 7, which is standard for enterprises) and he also poured resources into enterprise products that we seldom hear about but which are healthy business units. He also made resources available for Azure and got out of the hot seat once he realised that he was making more bad decisions than good ones. The board and thus the shareholders never asked him to leave. That they took so long to find a replacement says a lot about how unprepared they were.

Yes, MS is losing market share to mobile devices but it's still making a tidy profit and exploring new ways of making money.

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How a Brexit could stop UK biz and Europe swapping personal data

Charlie Clark
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This referendum will be decided by soundbite politics and racism.

How true!

Add to that: hair cuts, smart suits and Theresa May's footwear.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Nice that someone else realized it

I'm not coming back! I'll be staying in Germany. Luckily married to a German woman and have been here long enough to apply for citizenship.

You can have both: I do.

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Charlie Clark
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If there's an out vote in England, I think there is a case for Scotland (plus whatever other peripheral nations/regions) to remain as a successor state.

Outside the SNP's reality distortion field there isn't such a case. The treaties are with the United Kingdom as a whole. The referendum, stupid idea in the first place, is for the whole of the UK. That's the deal that the government of the UK did with the rest of the EU and that the parliament of the UK, where Scotland is more than adequately represented, will produce a bill for a referendum.

A low-oil Scotland would face a tough choice should it decide to leave the UK (main trading partner) and subsequently apply for EU membership. Schengen is now a condition for new members so that would mean border controls between England and Scotland.

British, Bavarian, Catalan, Flemish and probably a whole load of others politicians don't half talk some shit when they get the chance.

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Stop whining, America: Your LTE makes Europe look slow

Charlie Clark
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Re: There are two Americas

I think you're saying that the _average_ population density in the US is much lower than it is in western Europe, which is self-evident.

Well, yes. Except poor coverage in the US starts a lot closer to the built-up areas than in Europe. Even in Silicon Valley, coverage is very poor once you get away from the main centres of population and the motorways.

Absent government subsidies (as were given in ages past for rural free mail delivery), there is no economic incentive for the telecoms to build out in the great empty.

Whereas it was a requirement of the licences awarded in Europe that at least 90% of the population / area (varies from country to country) are covered. Part of the cost of providing this more or less universal coverage is also holding back the buildout of LTE.

Then again, the stubborn refusal of us European to pay US prices – doesn't matter whether it's telephone, internet or pay TV – has led to a more competitive and more advanced business model with more and more specialisation and joint ventures with the equipment makers.

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Charlie Clark
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but the lack of quality LTE must be hurting our economy as its not a good networking environment for innovation.

That sounds like a plea for a handout!

I like the idea of being able to submit Yelp reviews as a litmus test for the digital economy. How much data do you actually need on the move? Assuming you have some local storage for maps and media I think you'll find that you'll be fine with the occasional hotspot.

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Charlie Clark
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There are two Americas

In the big cities coverage is indeed excellent and there is competition. Outside the cities and it can be a very different story: shitty mobile coverage and ISPs with monopoly coverage.

For most people the 3G+ speeds that you can get in most of Europe are adequate for most tasks. This is why "pay more for LTE" failed to get any takers, unlike stateside where it was LTE or EDGE.

LTE was designed for gradual rollout.

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Don't fear PC-pocalypse, Chromebooks, two-in-ones 'will save us'

Charlie Clark
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Errr... isn't there a build of W10 for the Raspberry PI?

Yes, and I agree with you that it shows MS is starting to take ARM seriously. Something they didn't do first time round.

The RPi2 is okay for desktop use (processor speed is less of an issue than I/O). The RPi3 is more than adequate, albeit with the same provisos. Single-thread performance is still poor in comparison with x86 but more cores can generally make up for this as long as you're not repeatedly parsing a large DOM.

However, I wouldn't expect MS to lead here as it still does not have a very convincing strategy for multi-arch binaries: you cannot run x64 binaries on a 32-bit version of Windows.

Based on what I've seen of the ARM64 I can imagine Apple going ARM with the MacBook this year or next: it provides most of the software that will run on it and has a long-established toolchain for cross-compiling for x86 and ARM. What the ARM cores don't provide in straight CPU oomph can be added in custom hardware (encryption) and the GPUs can be made to do more. If they can do this and knock a bit off what they would otherwise pay Intel I can see this happening. I can also see them releasing hardware that will not run x86 code. The target market for the shiny gold MacBook probably doesn't have oodles of legacy software it wants to run.

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European commish considers probing Android, again

Charlie Clark
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FAIL

My main complaint is that MS and its backers appear to get preferential treatment from the EU commission

That's nonsense. It took a long time but the EC was the only body to impose real sanctions on Microsoft and enforce compliance. This went a long way to keeping the media market open on Windows devices.

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Mozilla burns Firefox on old Androids

Charlie Clark
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Honeycomb was a tablet only release

NFT

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Charlie Clark
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Re: old android

All the modern browsers are irrelevance on older devices because of memory use (needed to go moar faster with modern websites). Opera Mini is a great choice for such devices and is well-maintained by Opera precisely for this market.

OTOH I suspect the numbers of users in developing countries on older versions (< 4.x) of Android is very small. They skipped it initially because hardware was too expensive. Once handsets became available for less than $ 100 they came with Android > 4 on them.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Pity

Ruari Odegård (ex-Opera dev) touted this particular feature yesterday when promoting the most recent version of Vivaldi

I don't use Vivaldi for everything but it does seem to have much the same kind of spirit of Opera of old.

Elsewhere Opere devs tout native ad-blocking as if 2003 had never happened. At least I think it was 2003 when Opera introduced ad-blocking. Before there were even extensions for other browsers.

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Google emits Android N developer preview early to smoke out bugs

Charlie Clark
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Re: N = "Not For You"

Sounds like you need to get in touch with Motorola.

At this point, given the near complete lack of any sort of updates, I'm assuming it's roughly as secure as my Windows XP box.

Nope, it's certainly not invulnerable but Android definitely is a lot more secure than XP ever was.

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Charlie Clark
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Good move

Early access for developers should prove a boon for the conference. It also suggests that Google might be starting to open the development process up a bit.

It's also good PR for Android as it will mean more articles about what's coming next.

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Java evangelist leaves Oracle to save Java

Charlie Clark
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Re: Please just let Java die...Please!

The main purpose is to stop stupid programming errors by requiring programmers to explicitly say what a variable *is*, so the compiler can check and enforce how it's *used*.

There are enough examples of where static typing doesn't help here. The compiler can certainly help pick up some errors that would otherwise require specific unit tests, but it's far from infallible.

Type hints in Python are explicitly flagged as being there for "the tooling", ie. machine processing and optimisation of the code.

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Charlie Clark
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What is this article about?

I get the idea that the guy is upset but that's about it.

More importantly, who's going to be paying him to have a conscience?

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Please just let Java die...Please!

Python? Sure I use it, but always miss Java's strong typing.

Python is strongly typed. It just isn't statically typed. This is by design.

Static typing's main benefit is improved performance through better memory allocation. This is basically what you get if you run something through PyPy. Type hints in Python 3.5 will further improve things where this is important.

On very large systems Java still benefits from the work done years ago by Sun, IBM and others to run on lots of processors.

Compiling anything on Windows is a problem. Python is particularly challenging because each Python version has traditionally been compiled with a different version of Visual Studio.

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Sexism isn't getting better in Silicon Valley, it's getting worse

Charlie Clark
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Re: Can we stop this nonsense

It is indeed. However it is possible to do more than one thing at once, so I'm sure you'll agree that racism is not the only inequality which needs to be addressed now.

I do agree and obviously didn't make myself clear. On the other hand, it looks like I'm heading for my own personal best in downvotes, which is nice.

I highlighted the incarceration rate of black Americans because it remains high even after decades of affirmative action.

I'm even more sceptical that any of the tokenisms such as IWD and the various feel-good about diversity boondoggles which ever be good for anyone other than the organisers.

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Charlie Clark
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I find a lot of these agendas are pushed by feminists and they don't actually want gender equality.

Not so sure about that. Depends upon your definition of feminist, I guess.

However, there is no doubt in my mind that there is now an industry of "victim culture". It's not actually interested solutions just in talking shops and junkets for its members.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Can we stop this nonsense

Indeed. Would be nice to see if America could do something about the incarceration rate of black men: 25 - 33% (sorry, no current stats to hand) of black men spend some time in jail. To my mind that's a far bigger disgrace than any of the "quota" issues. All kinds of policies have failed to have a significant impact on this.

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Charlie Clark
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Dr Sue Black

"Our society is vaguely misogynistic…" WTF is that supposed to mean? Sounds like something from The Day Today. Then again Sue Black would organise <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G07sWzYObnk>excellent jam festivals</a>, I think.

I was at a corporate client's HQ yesterday. Roses were being handed out to women at the canteen because it was international women's day. Can someone help explain how this helps break down stereotypes because I fucking can't. Just more bloody tokenism. And ironic when you consider where, and under what conditions, roses are grown so they can be handed out in early March in Europe.

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'Microsoft Office has been the bane of my life, while simultaneously keeping me employed'

Charlie Clark
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Why bother?

Just use xlwings (works also on MacOS). Though for this particular task I'd be tempted to do it all in Python, with my-developer-of-a-Python-Excel-library hat on, as the overhead of communicating with Excel severely limits any parallelism.

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Brits still not happy about commercial companies using their healthcare data

Charlie Clark
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Make it opt-in

Then see what you have to do to get people to opt-in.

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Cloud sellers who acted on Heartbleed sink when it comes to DROWN

Charlie Clark
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The German BSI (Federal Office of IT Security) has been contacting the various ISPs / data centres after scanning them and providing lists of probably vulnerable. Intern the ISPs are contacting the relevant server owners. Would be nice to see more of this, even if the initial e-mail suggested that there might have been a security breach and that the server would be shutdown if no action was taken.

I did have to fix one system but was able to track down the relevant instructions pretty easily. It's an older Debian system and gave me another reason to curse "packaged systems". Compiling and installing a new version of openssl was no problem. But, of course, you have to deal with non-standard paths and then configure the relevant services (e-mail, mainly). The server is due for an upgrade to something newer but there are no convenient tools for migrating things like e-mail addresses. :-/

Good place to start if you need to check.

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Microsoft has made SQL Server for Linux. Repeat, Microsoft has made SQL Server 2016 for Linux

Charlie Clark
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Re: Microsoft cannot be trusted

You have no idea how crafty, patient and dastardly MS Oracle, SAP, etc. can be.

FTFY

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Charlie Clark
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Re: *YAAAAWWWWN*

If you really think that SQL Server gives you nothing over MariaDB and Postgres then, no, this gives you nothing.

Agreed. Except that the comparison with MarIaDB and Postgres in the same breath is unfair. MariaDB continues the ignominious tradition of being fast but shit. Postgres just keeps getting better and better and more interesting for larger projects.

Azure demonstrates that MS knows how to scale.

But, as in many situations, this isn't really about the software at all. It's about the "eco-system": training, support, third-party products, etc. MSSQL has built up a reasonably loyal market in some areas. Some parts of this market might be looking to get with the in-crowd and Docker all the things. Early release due in mid-2017 doesn't sound that impressive but enterprise roadmaps are often at least two years out.

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Google splats more bad Android security bugs with patches your mobe will probably never see

Charlie Clark
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In the EU it's still within the period (two years) of statutory guarantee so you are within your rights to sue Samsung. Contact you local consumer rights body for more information.

In general, most handset manufacturers have a shocking record when it comes to providing updates. We need more legal cases like that launched recently in the Netherlands.

We'll only find our rights are respected if we are prepared to assert them.

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First working Apple Mac ransomware infects Transmission BitTorrent app downloads

Charlie Clark
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Re: Checksums anyone?

The problem is where is your reference source for a download from a web page?

Most software distribution systems, including Transmission's update procedure, use hashes to make sure that what's downloaded is what it should be. And many websites/ftp sites provide the hashes in various forms so you can check. However, how many of us bother to do us with everything we install? Developer credentials are supposed to work around this so the user has to okay the unverifiable install.

Sounds like a well-planned and well-executed scam:

1) hack the website so that a different file is offered

2) hack the credentials so that the download can bypass OS protection mechanisms

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BBC telly tax drops onto telly-free households. Cough up, iPlayer fans

Charlie Clark
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FAIL

Sorry, but the guy is an idiot

The BBC works on the basis that all who watch it pay for it

Nope, that is very wrong.

It works on providing a universal service that is universally funded. The service gets its independence from the universal funding but is explicitly not quid pro quo.

It also should not be involved in collecting the licence fee. The licence fee is decided by parliament and this is what gives it its heft. If the BBC becomes involved then it becomes just another private debt that is easy to avoid. This would mean the BBC would have to devote significant resources to collecting the fee.

The alternative to a difficult to administer fee for IPlayer would be to extend the licence to cover computers. etc. as happened in Germany a few years ago.

As for a paid-for version of iPlayer: I'm sure the BBC could sell loads of those outside the UK.

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Turkish hacker pleads guilty to $55m maniac global ATM heist

Charlie Clark
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Coat

Re: um!

Nah, keep him on expensive life support until the sentence is served.

Mine's the one with the Jasper Fforde in the pocket, ta.

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Charlie Clark
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Headmaster

Spellchecking budget cut again?

Turkish hacker pleds guilty

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Windows 10 claimed another point of desktop share in February

Charlie Clark
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Re: Microsoft's real fail…

IE11 may be part of the reason. There's an awful lot of forums that IE11 won't work with.

Interesting. That sounds to me like poor programming of the forums presumably using IE specific workarounds for all versions of the browser rather than feature detection. However, as you note users no longer blame the website owner as they know they can just switch browsers and website developers know that they no longer need to worry.

IE 11 really is okay as a browser: it does a lot of things correctly and has a fast JS runtime. It's just not enough and it's not going to any updates.

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Bruce Schneier: We're sleepwalking towards digital disaster and are too dumb to stop

Charlie Clark
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Re: bravo

And Benjamin Franklin said "He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security".

I'm sure Cicero and Socrates said something similar. And yet…

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Charlie Clark
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FAIL

Re: @AC - Hmmm...

I'm not sure how much of a 'geddon it is yet, but I think we'd all prefer there to be less of that kind of thing going on.

This is straight from the major! Where's the Monty Python icon?

10 points to your team for demonstrating an appropriate response to engineered panic! Have a copy of the Brass Eye Paedophilia Special for your troubles. Better order some filing cabinets for your kids!

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'Boss, I've got a bug fix: Nuke the whole thing from orbit, rewrite it all'

Charlie Clark
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Re: C-as-assembler

Needs to be viewed in a monospace font to truly appreciate it.

Wrap in a code (pre for double linespacing) block to do that.

unsigned char i2c_rd(void) // read an 8b streaming

{ unsigned char bit_count = 0 ; // bit counter the 8b streaming

SDA=1 ; P1M2=0x05 ; // prepare SDA as input (=1)

while(bit_count<8)

{ eep_buf=eep_buf<<1 ; // shift left 1b eeprom data buffer

dly_usec(4) ; SCL=1 ; // rise-up SCL

shift0=SDA ; dly_usec(4) ; // read bit_n from eeprom

SCL=0 ; dly_usec(2) ; // pulse SCL

bit_count++ ; dly_usec(2) ; } // increment bit counter(repeat for 8b)

P1M2=0x0d ; return eep_buf ; // SDA open drain(return data buf)

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Charlie Clark
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Re: C is a glorified assembler

"Personal idiosyncratic use of such features is the problem"

As long as it can be understood why is it a problem?

It's in the definition of "idiosyncratic" – similar only to itself.

For example, I could always redefine my booleans. Would you like to work with my code?

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Charlie Clark
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... I honestly cannot figure out why anyone would do this.

It seems pretty obvious to me. For the guy each project was completely separate from the rest so he felt justified in starting from scratch but with the same approach and files as before. By repurposing the library he was able to write his application code the way he liked to.

I don't agree with this approach but I can understand it and I know that I've done similar things in the past, though usually copying something like utils from A to B. The real problem seems more systemic: why no VCS? And why were other developers charged with recompiling his stuff?

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Well, this article'll cause some arguments, eh?

Anyway, it looks LibreSSL is just borrowing heavily from a fork of OpenSSL and probably just removing some little used stuff - but it's not a clean room rewrite...

It's always been a fork. A lot of stuff has been removed or rewritten, but one of the reasons for the fork was maintaining API compatibility.

Nevertheless, I find it interesting that this bit of code was kept around.

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