* Posts by David Given

374 posts • joined 4 Aug 2008

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Imagine Python fan fiction written in C, read with a Lisp: Code lingo Nim gets cash injection

David Given
Unhappy

Interesting but ugly

I played with it a while back, while I was trying to evaluate compiles-to-machine-code languages which weren't Go. Nim's interesting; it's got a number of nice features, like having compile-time functions which have access to the AST, allowing really easy code generation (and hygienic macros).

But I couldn't make myself like it. I find the combination of Python-style significant whitespace _and_ C++ style bugsplatter punctuation nearly unbearable; and there are some mad, mad, mad design decisions --- the identifiers FOO_BAR and fooBar are equivalent...

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Grad sends warning to manager: Be nice to our kit and it'll be nice to you

David Given
Coat

Re: Elphin safety

You weren't tempted to suggest that he reversed the polarity of the neutron flow?

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David Given

Re: Need an IT equivalent of mechanical sympathy....

This has been well known for years --- go look up 'quantum bododynamics' in the Hacker's Dictionary...

Brief summary: bogons are particles which cause technology to fail. Some people emit bogons, thus causing technological failure when they're nearby. Others absorb them, damping the level of ambient bogon radiation.

This is why the printer always works fine when the sysadmin is nearby; the sysadmin has been working in tech for so long that they've become a highly effective bogon sink.

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Gemini goes back to the '90s with Agenda, Data and mulls next steps

David Given
Unhappy

Re: Agenda?

I always wanted one of those, but was never able to find one. Eventually I got a second hand Razer gaming keyboard and wrote some chording keyboard software:

http://cowlark.com/narcissus/

Turns out that writing the software was much, *much* easier than learning how to actually type on the bloody thing.

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Relive your misspent, 8-bit youth on the BBC's reopened Micro archive

David Given

Re: Coding inspiration

Ian Bell had an officially unofficial rewrite of the trading engine in C:

http://www.elitehomepage.org/text/index.htm

...so if you feel like trying to write scripts for ultra-efficient trading routes in order to achieve galactic financial domination, this is for you.

You can also find the full text of the Elite novella, by noted fantasy author Robert Holdstock: http://www.elitehomepage.org/dkwheel.htm

And you can also find the as-yet-unpublished Elite musical: http://www.iancgbell.clara.net/elite/musical/index.htm

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Atari accuses El Reg of professional trolling and making stuff up. Welp, here's the interview tape for you to decide...

David Given
Flame

Re: Oh how the might have fallen...

The BBC had Elite and Chuckie Egg. Any additional games were obviously superfluous.

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OnePlus 6: Perfect porridge? One has to make a smartphone that's juuuust right

David Given
Thumb Up

You want a CAT S60.

https://www.gsmarena.com/cat_s60-7928.php

It's rather long in the tooth now, but it literally ticks all your checkboxes (except the modular charging port, but it is ruggedised and lives under a cover so it should last), plus it has a two-day battery, it's waterproof, you can run it over in your car, it looks completely bonkers and it has a built-in thermal imaging camera.

I saw someone with one the other day. Holy crap it looks good (mainly due to not being just another glass fondleslab).

CAT make newer phones (some of them quite reasonably priced, I should look into replacing my dying Nexus 5X), but they're boring by comparison.

***Breaking news!***

Turns out the CAT S61 has everything the S60 does, except the cool angular corners, but it also comes with a air quality sensor and a laser. https://www.digitaltrends.com/cell-phone-reviews/cat-s61-review/

YOU CAN GET A PHONE WITH A LASER IN IT.

That is all.

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Smut site offers VPN so you don't bare all online

David Given

I never believed I'd even say this but... got any links? Because that sounds rather interesting, although possibly with image loading turned off. (I'm hoping they're going for a OkCupid statistical breakdown with actual words rather than an, ehem, in-your-face pictorial experience.)

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It's World (Terrible) Password (Advice) Day!

David Given

Re: Missing the point

I encountered a system once which would lowercase your password as you typed it in... but only in the form where you set up the password in the first place. It didn't do it when you tried to log in.

That one was _real_ fun to figure out. Death's too good, etc.

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BOFH: But I did log in to the portal, Dave

David Given
Mushroom

Re: GAH!

Oracle support vs. Concur.

Discuss.

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Twitter API overhaul threatens to seriously shaft apps... again

David Given

Yes --- but do they talk to Twitter?

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User asked why CTRL-ALT-DEL restarted PC instead of opening apps

David Given

Re: Feeling Old...

Dune2's been ported to Android, by the way, cutscenes and all. Sadly it's not on Google Play because... the dev seems to be a jerk... but it's still available as a sideload if you dare.

http://www.overclock.net/forum/82-video-games-general/1498738-did-anyone-play-dune-2-android-if-so-sorry.html

http://epicport.com/en/dune2/android

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BOFH: Give me a lever long enough and a fool, I mean a fulcrum and ....

David Given
Unhappy

I was in a meeting the other day...

...with someone who had 'asks'.

It was a sad, sad, day.

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We sent a vulture to find the relaunched Atari box – and all he got was this lousy baseball cap

David Given
Happy

Re: Reliable Atari

Commodore? Atari? Pfft.

Look, people, I was an Acorn fanboy back in the day, and Acorn's marketing division could lose to *anyone*, with both hands not tied behind their back.

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The phone OS that muggers wouldn't touch is back from the dead

David Given
FAIL

I used to program for Symbian. I sincerely hope that it's not just dead, but buried at a crossroads with a stake through the twisted nugget of hate that passed for a heart.

In fact... hand me that shovel, will you? I think I need to go dig it up, just so I can bury it again. Just to be sure.

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Magic Leap's staggering VR goggle technology just got even better!

David Given

What was that old 'hologram' beat-em-up arcade game that did pretty much that?

It wasn't true 3D, of course; it used Pepper's Ghost, with the two players standing each side of a glass table looking down, to project the screen inside so that they saw their characters apparently standing on the surface of the table. The virtual screen always faced the player, so it looked weird as you walked around the table. (Both players saw the same screen.) And the screen was 2D, so your characters were flat.

But it was supposed to be incredibly convincing, nevertheless.

**Edit:** maybe Sega's Time Traveller? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fooFhfVUEI4 It's obviously similar technology, but I'm sure it's not the one I've seen.

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Remember the Yorkie pizza horror? Here's who won our exclusive Reg merch...

David Given
Go

Post-pub neckfillers!

Man, I miss those. I found myself wanting to look one up the other day and spent ages with the Reg's, um, great search engine...

Was there / will there ever be an edited collection of them, possibly with full colour photos and scratch-n-sniff previews, on paper? Because I might actually buy one.

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Epic spacewalk, epic FAIL: Cosmonauts point new antenna in the wrong direction

David Given

Re: Murphy's Law strikes again....

Unfortunately...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW_ERnIa6fE

(that's video of the Proton-M launch failure caused by installing the inertial guidance sensors backwards)

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Parity: The bug that put $169m of Ethereum on ice? Yeah, it was on the todo list for months

David Given

It won't be long before someone tries to use an Ethereum contract to enforce a business contract... which will be wrong, and will be taken to court, and the judge will say, "You can't do that, give them their money back", and won't accept, "but code!" for an answer.

I have some popcorn ready.

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New coding language Fetlang's syntax designed to read like 'poorly written erotica'

David Given
Thumb Up

Re: OK, so if there are any coders

Malebolge is so evil that the first known program was discovered by doing a brute force search of the program space. It took a cryptanalysis attack before somebody found out how to write programs in it on purpose.

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Fancy that! Craft which float over everything on a cushion of air

David Given
Thumb Up

Re: Dover

As a very small geek I visited Dover sometime pre 1985, and I have photographic evidence to prove it:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByWQADzU1i2wX1JIX09SSVNsYTg/view?usp=sharing

I can't imagine anyone would have trusted me with a camera back then so the blurriness of the photo probably isn't my fault, but it still makes it impossible to make out the name or the registration in the front. It looks like the pictures of one of the SRN4 on WIkipedia.

What particular strikes me looking at the picture today is the way it's driving along the concrete apron with people randomly wandering about taking photos. Basic safety: we've heard of it...

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Science fiction great Brian Aldiss, 92, dies at his Oxford home

David Given
Stop

Re: The Greats have gone

I believe Banks was once accused (by a snobbish critic) of writing potboiler SF in order to fund his real literature.

He said, hell no. His 'real literature' sold vastly better than the SF. He said that one of the reasons he wrote in two distinct genres was that that let the 'real literature' subsidise the SF, which is what he really enjoyed doing...

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Sleuths unearth 'Panic Mode' in Android, set off by mashing back button

David Given

It only catches fire if you remembered to pick up all the junk mail off the doormat in the morning.

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India's Martian MOM clocks up 1,000 days circling the red planet

David Given

Re: Nice problem

It did start out with 800kg of fuel, mind, so right now the tank's at about 1.5%. They *are* running on the dregs (probably why they did the burn with the attitude thrusters rather than the main engine).

...it started out with a fully loaded mass of 1337 kg. Yes, this may be humanity's first spacecraft to rate Elite status.

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Months late, unaudited: ZX Spectrum reboot firm files accounts

David Given
Trollface

Don't dis the speccy! Those things were *brilliant*. The wedge shaped design made them perfect door wedges --- those rubber keys gripped the floor like nobody's business...

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Google building firebombed

David Given

Do you mean Saldado Drive?

Apparently there isn't a Saldado Avenue in Mountain View. Well, according to Google Maps.

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Raspberry Pi 3 to sport Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE – first photos emerge

David Given

Re: Hardware tested in Hull

Well, actually...

The Pi's boot process is like this:

- VC4 turn on.

- VC4 boot rom finds the SD card and loads the VC4 boot image (bootcode.bin).

- The VC4 boot image loads the VC4 OS kernel (start.elf).

- The VC4 OS does all its initialisation and startup.

- The VC4 OS finds and loads the ARM kernel image (kernel.img).

- The VC4 OS turns on the ARM core.

- Your OS boots.

The ARM isn't involved in *any* of the boot process! By the time it gets power, the kernel image is already in memory! The VideoCore IV is doing all the work.

It'd be totally feasible for the Pi Foundation to extend the VideoCore OS (I think it's ThreadX?) to support network boot. But you'd still need an SD card to load it, and I suspect that it doesn't have USB or ethernet drivers, so it'd be a lot of work, and it's closed source anyway.

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'A word processor so simple my PA could use it': Joyce turns 30

David Given

Re: Logo language and Mallard Basic

I should just clarify: Mallard Basic was *nothing whatsoever* like BBC Basic. Mallard Basic was a Microsoft-basic like thing, with extra support for random access files and assorted businessy things. While BBC Basic had named procedures and (some) structured programming primitives, Mallard Basic was all about the GOSUBs.

Here's the manual: http://www.worldofspectrum.org/Plus3CPMManual/index.html

You *can* get BBC Basic for CP/M, and it's damn good too, even supporting the built in assembler (converted to the Z80, naturally): http://www.bbcbasic.co.uk/bbcbasic/z80basic.html

(It's worth mentioning that the PCW's version of CP/M came with a full set of development tools out of the box. Not just Basic and Logo, but an assembler and linker. It probably even came with the CP/M porting kit.)

(I wrote my first adventure game on one of these: Escape From Planet Zorg, it was called. It was in Mallard Basic. I still remember the terrible piranha puzzle.)

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Tesla X unfolds its Falcon wings, stumbles belatedly into the light

David Given

Battery capacities...

...are in kWh, not kW.

(It's a popular misconception that I'm a card-carrying member of the Pedant's Society. That couldn't be further from the truth! It's actually made out of plastic.)

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Confession: I was a teenage computer virus writer

David Given

Interested parties might like to look at Leprosy's f-secure database entry:

https://www.f-secure.com/v-descs/leprosy.shtml

Killer quote:

"The only thing which is remarkable about it is the fact that the virus is written in C."

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The Empire Strikes Back: Disney tractor-beams StarWars.co.uk from Brit biz

David Given

Perfect missed opportunity...

...if only the Catholic Church had a St. Arwars.

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The Martian: Matt Damon sciences the sh*t out of the red planet

David Given

Re: 20mtr up.

Metres: surprisingly deadly.

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Bill Nye's bonkers LightSail spaceship unfurls solar sails at last

David Given

Re: Changing direction...

Solar sails don't work anything like sailing with wind.

The sail's not going to lift anything against solar gravity, so the only part of your acceleration vector that's of particular interest is whether it's speeding up your orbit or slowing it down. If the former, you'll move outwards. If the latter, you'll move inwards.

There is a solar sail mod for KSP, if you want to play with one.

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David Given

Re: Next up:

That's crazy talk.

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David Given

Don't forget about Ikaros!

Don't forget that this is the *second* light sail mission --- and it's just a test-bed, at that (it's way too low to do anything other than burn up almost immediately). The *first* was JAXA's Ikaros. Launched five years ago alongside their Venus probe, it passed Venus after six months and is now... somewhere (and I haven't been able to find a reference). It was last contacted in April this year.

Ikaros is interesting because it's got LCD panels on the sail which allow the albedo to be changed; it's steerable. They reckon it's getting about 1 mN of thrust.

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Holy SSH-it! Microsoft promises secure logins for Windows PowerShell

David Given

Re: troll troll troll

You did know that Microsoft used to make a Unix, right? It was called Interix, and ran alongside win32 as another personality on top of the Windows NT kernel. It interoperated with win32 seamlessly, so you could combine the win32 GUI with full Posix semantics with processes, sockets, hard and soft links, etc. It even came with gcc. It worked really rather well. It felt very much like an old-school Unix, so Korn shell, an old libc, non-ELF, etc. But it was so, so much nicer than Cygwin. For a while you could even install Debian packages on it.

Unfortunately it never got much maintenance and suffered from institutional rot. Despite being reinvented as Services For Unix, and then Subsystem for Unix Applications (gotta love those names), the last released version was for Windows 8.

More information here: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc779522(v=ws.10).aspx

Win8 download here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35512

(The actual Posix layer gets shipped in higher end Windowses by default; but you need to install the userland yourself before you can actually do anything with it.)

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Taming the Thames – The place that plugged London's Great Stink

David Given

Re: Charlton

Here's a picture I love of someone inspecting the lining of a big cylinder. I'd love to get a tour of one of these big ship engines some time.

http://www.marineinsight.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/gauging-liner-wear.jpg

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Land Rover's return: Last orders and leather seats for Defender nerds

David Given

Re: "versions that run on rails"

...huh, I didn't know _A Meeting With Medusa_ was the second in a series --- can you remember what the original was called?

Also, run away, don't walk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Medusa-Chronicles-Alastair-Reynolds/dp/1473210186/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429179964&sr=8-1&keywords=the+medusa+chronicles

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Last flying Avro Vulcan, XH558, prepares for her swan song

David Given

Question to the Reg folks...

...where do you find a *pilot* for one of these? And can you get an interview?

I saw a Vulcan at Farnborough once, shortly after the 2006 refurb. Deeply impressive beast, and a hell of a noise.

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KA-BOOM! Russian rocket EXPLODES over Siberia minutes after lift-off

David Given

I would be totally unsurprised.

Russia's got a lot of engines in storage, and they're selling some to the west --- e.g. both Orbital and Antares are buying cheap NK-33 engines from Russia which were originally built in the 60s and 70s for the N1 lunar flights. Orbital will be using them for ISS resupply missions!

The N1 used 38 NK-33s in its first two stages. They built a *lot* of NK-33s (and NK-15s, the predecessor), and when the N1 was cancelled they got put into storage.

They're seriously good engines, with a top-rate thrust-to-weight ratio, and amazingly reliable; and loads cheaper than building your own. The only comparable western engine is SpaceX's Merlin 1D, and SpaceX aren't selling them. The Russians would be idiots not to use them. They're in such demand that I've seen rumours they're thinking of restarting production. Whether this will actually happen, and whether the new engines will be as good as the old ones, I don't know.

Lots more info here: http://rostec.ru/en/news/4232

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Bloke hits armadillo AND mother-in-law with single 9mm round

David Given

Re: Erm...

This story features stupid people

Stupid people are also found using technology.

Therefore, this story is relevant to technology.

Will that do?

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Silence is golden: Charlie Chaplin's The Tramp is 100 today

David Given

Re: When?

I was thinking about him, too --- I was a big fan when I was (much) smaller. I'd love to know how they did those hair-raising stunts. Knowing the state of the art at the time, probably for real.

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What a time to be alive ... hard and floppy disk drives play Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit

David Given

As a different approach...

'Hitachi Hard Drive Project' is a track made up of sequenced sounds of failing Hitachi hard drives, and it's actually pretty damn good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3b7yV4CUaw

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Saturn's rings, radio waves ... poetry? At home with Scotland's Mr Physics

David Given

I believe that both Maxwell's daemons and Unix daemons are named after the daimons from Greek mythology, which are invisible agents which mediate between them and humans, known only by their actions. They're neither good nor evil, although they may do good or evil things (which to my mind makes the description spot-on accurate in the Unix sense).

Wikipedia's got lots more information but the page is incredibly mangled. The Talk page is worth a laugh, though.

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Dear departed Internet Explorer, how I will miss you ... NOT

David Given

Re: Ahh, the old days...

From Peter Tattam's rather elderly and not-very-updated blog:

---snip---

I continue to develop new and innovative software and have completed several new projects since leaving Trumpet. Among these are a completely new TCP/IP stack and various other software utilities such as compilers, LALR compiler generator tools and PC emulator software. I have a passionate interest in writing operating systems and development tools.

---snip---

Looking at http://www.trumpet.com.au/, he seems to have a DOS IPv6 TCP/IP driver, a partially win32-compatible operating system, and an OS written entirely in Pascal...

I also found this site, which someone (not him) set up to allow you to donate money to the author...

http://thanksfortrumpetwinsock.com/

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2282875

1
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Curiosity rover's broken arm heals, exploration-as-normal resumes

David Given

Re: um ... who took the picture?

Here's an incredibly dull animation showing the precise sequence of movements they use:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-7lA30cUJQ

And, in fact, if you look carefully at a picture such as this one:

https://danspace77.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/14-158a.jpg

...and study the protuberance immediately above the bottom left wheel, as you look at the image, you can see blurs and glitches as it moves around. (It's the mount for the camera arm.) They've done a really nice job of the stitching; you'll probably have to zoom in.

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Sir Terry remembered: Dickens' fire, Tolkien's imagination, and the wit of Wodehouse

David Given

You're quite right. Dark Side of the Sun. Bad fingers, they don't know how to type.

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David Given

Wasn't there an old afp joke...

"For sale: Terry Pratchett novel --- rare, unsigned edition!"

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David Given

Ahem. Equal Rites was written in 1987. Wyrd Sisters was written in 1988.

Equal Rites, in fact, features only a proto-Granny Weatherwax; her character and the way witching works changes considerably in the later books. (One of Pratchett's strengths, I think, is that he's willing to discard continuity in favour of a good book, although he did fall into the Canon Welding trap in the very later books.)

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David Given

I probably *wouldn't* start with _Colour of Magic_. It's rather different from the rest of the series, being a Fritz Leiber parody, and his style only starts to gel a few books later on.

My recommendations? _Small Gods_, which a minister once described to me as the best book about religion he'd ever read. _Pyramids_, which is about fate, belief (not the same as religion!) and camels. _Mort_, about growing up, death, and Death.

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