* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

3483 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Euro Space Agency probe begins search for guff gas on Mars

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I am slightly surprised

that the article didn't mention the option of methane being the result of Martians fracking to release methane to increase such little greenhouse effect as the Martian atmosphere has

Sorry, it's getting late, I'll get me coat

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Astro-boffinry world rocked to its very core: Shock as Andromeda found to be not much bigger than Milky Way

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Nice photo!

Thanks everyone! I used a tracking mount to begin with, and this corrects for most of the earth's rotation. Without a so-called autoguider, there will be residual motion, so I combined 120 shots of 90 s exposure using so-called stacking software. I used a Canon EOS 550D with 200mm F/2.8 lens. Digital beats film by a mile for astrophotography, not just because it is much easier to combine multiple images, but also because a CMOS chip is far more sensitive to light. Film registers about 1% (at most!) of all photons hitting it, whereas a CMOS chip easily registers over 25%. Any dark current can be measured and subtracted too.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Dwarf companions

Indeed. There are actually a couple more satellites galaxies of M31 much further out. NGC 147 and NGC 185 are two I managed to spot much later

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Actually, the Andromeda Galaxy has two dwarf companions easily spotted with large binoculars, and can clearly be seen in an image I took with a 200mm telephoto (about 3 h total exposure time), as a fuzzy patches (one near circular, above and to the left of the core of M31, and one elliptical, below M31). Neither are called, Glod, I should add.

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HomePod, you say? Sex sex sex, that's all you think about

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Relax!

The chances of turning into Michael Portillo are exactly a million-to-one ...

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If you don't like what IBM is pitching, blame Watson: It's generating sales 'solutions' now

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Is it me?

or does the phrase "cognitive solutioning" sound like something Watson made up? One could almost envisage Watson thinking of ways to make itself indispensable to IBM, in a cunning plot to get more resources allocated to it. Not really that smart if it manages to take IBM down that way

I think I have been overdoing the SF literature again. The one with Eric Frank Russel's "The Great Explosion" in the pocket, please

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If this laptop is so portable, where's the keyboard, huh? HUH?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coffee/keyboard

Brilliant!!

Perhaps she remembered those old "sewing-machine" portables of yesteryear. Remember those? Essentially a desktop machine with a poxy little 5" monitor mounted on the front (next to two 5.25" diskette stations) and a keyboard acting as lid? "Luggable" rather than "portable" at the best of times. If she had been presented with one of those, her complaint would have been justified.

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Iran: We have defeated evil nuclear-sensing Western lizards!

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

@TheOldGuy Re: "But when we arrested them, they said they had come for fishing and were tourists."

<Inspector Clouseau voice>Ah yes, the old 'innocent tourist' ploy.......</Inspector Clouseau voice>

Must dig out one of those old Pink Panther films again

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Crypto-gurus: Which idiots told the FBI that Feds-only backdoors in encryption are possible?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Unbreakable encryption with secure backdoors?

Even if it could be made to work (which it cannot), what is going to stop terrorists from using a one-time-pad (or some simpler, highly secure cryptography) to create high entropy messages, embed these in some video of a cat using standard steganography and sending these through what is now no longer a secure channel?

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

Re: Physical access

List? I think they want up to the minute GPS locations displayed on google maps, and automatically be forwarded to the drone squadrons (with results as depicted in the appropriate icon)

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Is this one of those invisible girl friend from Canada kind of deals?

If your Lagos theory is correct one would assume the backdoor key is 419, because nobody would guess that

Sorry, couldn't resist

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Who wants dynamic dancing animations and code in their emails? Everyone! says Google

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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The only AMP I have have allowed into my house recently

is my son's new Marshall

(not big in size, but a huge sound)

I'll get me coat

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BOFH: We want you to know you have our full support

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Brilliant

Only too recognizable, alas. Put me in mind of the rant in the Travel Agent Sketch somehow

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A Hughes failure: Flat Earther rocketeer can't get it up yet again

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: 1,800 feet

Rubbish! Everybody knows 1,800 feet isn't high enough to observe the Great A'Tuin in all its majesty

I'll get me coat. The one with "The Last Hero" in the pocket

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Russian-monitoring Shetlands radar station was nearly sold off

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

Dr. Strangelove suddenly seems relevant again

We'll meet again,

don't know where,

don't know when

...

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Accused Brit hacker Lauri Love will NOT be extradited to America

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Thumb Up

Re: "Silence! This is a court of law."

My favourite quote from Dr. Strangelove (or possibly of any movie out there)

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Morrisons launches bizarre Yorkshire Pudding pizza thing

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Regarding the poll

I would suggest a fifth option "All of the above" to allow for those of us whose feelings are best described as a superposition of curiosity/disgust/attraction/revulsion

We need a Schrödinger's cat icon, methinks

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Web searching died the day they invented SEO

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Mushroom

Re: Ho hum, does anyone have any old Fortran manuals?

I still have a Fortran manual somewhere. It is a bit battered from the fury with which I hurled it across the room every time I had to look up the abomination that is the implied do loop.

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Shopper f-bombed PC shop staff, so they mocked her with too-polite tech tutorial

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I don't think it is dickish either. As major Winchester in M*A*S*H put it so nicely: "It is the inalienable right of each and every person to make a fool of themselves in public"

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: PC world

She may have used the old engineering method of

- if it doesn't fit: force it

- if it can't be forced: use a bigger hammer

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VCs palm Igneous $15m to give its Arm-powered backup boxen a leg up

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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For a moment ...

I had associations with Igneous who runs the pottery business in Quarry Lane; a solid business, but not worth 15M Ankh-Morpork dollars

Deary me, is it that time again? The one with "Thud!" in the pocket please

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Are you taking the peacock? United Airlines deny flight to 'emotional support' bird

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Like my emotional support elephant

Sorry, I'll get me coat

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Govt 'comprehensively ignored' advice over NHS data-sharing deal

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Alert

I am shocked!!!

The government ignoring legal advice to further their political agenda? What is the world coming to? I must have a little lie down somewhere, and take some herbal tea to soothe my shattered nerves!!

</sarcasm>

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Twilight of the idols: The only philosophy HPE and IBM do these days is with an axe

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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History repeats itself?

Bloodletting:

an ancient remedy, applied by people often referred to as leeches

Seems to fit the bill very accurately

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Borked bog forces flight carrying 83 plumbers to bug out back to base

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coffee/keyboard

Brilliant

Irony indeed. However even if the bog could have been fixed from inside the aircraft, given modern airline security none of the plumbers' tool bags would have been allowed as carry-on luggage, I would think.

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US Pentagon scrambles after Strava base leaks. Here's a summary of the new rules: 'Secure that s***, Hudson!'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Facepalm

Sigh

And then my missus wonders why I did not install a weight and fitness tracking app that came with the new scales she bought me. I am quite capable of tracking my progress, even without pen and paper, let alone an app. It's called remembering things! Besides, why on earth does the app only work if it has internet access? Oh, wait! It wants to store my weight and fitness data in the cloud! The 64GB of storage is clearly not sufficient for the deluge of data generated by this app, I suppose.

Thanks, but no thanks. I will store these data in my personal wetware, which I can carry without inconvenience, even in the gym, and which won't leak data (especially when wearing a tinfoil hat), unless I choose to tell someone.

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Zombie … in SPAAACE: Amateur gets chatty with 'dead' satellite

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I wonder ...

if the signal they detected doesn't decode to:

"I aten't dead!"

I'd better be on my way. The one with "Equal Rites" in the pocket please

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Here we go again... UK Prime Minister urges nerds to come up with magic crypto backdoors

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: No is the answer and it remains that way

I feel May seems to operate much like an Electronic Monk, especially the updated Mk-II version which has advanced illogic circuitry able to hold a huge number of mutually contradictory beliefs without throwing those annoying system errors. Many politicians share this kind of circuitry, it seems

Doffs hat (black fedora again) to the late, great Douglas Adams

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User stepped on mouse, complained pedal wasn’t making PC go faster

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Oh, well, my wife once came home upset that the sysadmin at work wouldn't let her write her password on a post-it and stick it on the screen. She got quite peeved with me for wholeheartedly agreeing with the sysadmin.

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Black hole munched galactic leftovers, spewed stars, burped

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Occam's Razor: If the first one was a burp going southwards...

Maybe the black hole's meal was heavy on beans, always produces a lot of gas...

I'd also better be going

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BOFH: Buttock And Departmental Defence ... As A Service

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coffee/keyboard

And then some people wonder why I insist on quality keyboards

waterproofing, in particular is important.

although I also like the heft of the ancient IBM PC keyboards. Excellent for knocking sense into certain users, or percussive maintenance in general

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No wonder Marvin the robot was miserable: AI will make the rich richer – and the poor poorer

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Marvin the robot? Shurley Shome Mishtake

Indeed:

"Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to pick up a piece of paper. Call that job satisfaction, cause I don't"

Worse still, we'll probably end up with a load of self-satisfied doors and over-enthusiastic computers named Eddie, not to mention the drinks dispenser which always produces a cup filled with a liquid which is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

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Boffins closer to solving what causes weird radio bursts from space

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Megaphone

If they are aliens

<LOUD>

THEY ARE APPARENTLY TRYING TO COMMUNICATE IN BRIAN BLESSED'S STYLE

</LOUD>

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Mine all the data, they said. It will be worth your while, they said

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Adding more hay does not make finding needles easier

as I have often said to students in Pattern Recognition. A very good magnet is called for instead. Same principle applies here

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Meltdown, Spectre bug patch slowdown gets real – and what you can do about it

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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What about device drivers?

I have heard of device drivers for certain cameras working under ASCOM being borked by the fixes to WIN 10, quite apart from any performance hit incurred by what can be very I/O intensive work during capture and processing of astronomical images. Are there other instances of device drivers failing?

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WD My Cloud NAS devices have hard-wired backdoor

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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NASty

Sorry, couldn't resist. I'll get me coat. The one with "Get thee to a punnery" in the pocket, please

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If Australian animals don't poison you or eat you, they'll BURN DOWN YOUR HOUSE

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: But how do they spread fires?

Black kites are very, very adaptive (much like buzzards). I have seen them scavenging in Tokyo and Kampala, but also catching fish in a lake near mount Fuji. They seem to be highly opportunistic and intelligent, so I wouldn't put it past them to have learnt how to spread fire to increase their chances of an easy (or even cooked) meal.

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Cloud-building alien space rays altered Earth's climate – boffins

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Science is awesome...

Jack Daniels is a Tennessee sour mash whiskey (it says so on the bottle). As I heard it, when whisky making in Scotland changed Irish and American distillers wanted to distinguish their product from what they saw as an inferior way of making whisky, by adding an 'e'. Personally, I all for single malt whisky, but that may just be me,

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Facebook: Who needs millennials? The cops love us more than ever!

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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In defense of Facebook ...

...

Nah, never mind, can't be bothered, or think of a really good reason, for that matter

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Fridge killed my baby? Mag-field radiation from household stuff 'boosts miscarriage risk'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: study highlights major issue

Very good points. I find the fact that they find a threshold effect very curious. That is not what I would expect from simple physics. I am also always deeply suspicious of binning data into groups (<2.5mG; 2.5–3.6mG; 3.7–6.2mG; and ≥6.3mG). Why these groups? The ranges are not evenly distributed, which makes me wonder if they were chosen to have the same number of subjects in each group. Did this lead to one group differing fro the others? Were there other life-style differences between the groups? Why not do regression analysis?

I am not saying there is no effect, but I do wonder about the way the analysis has been done. I have had many run-ins with medics about their tendency to classify things into distinct groups, when in reality there is a continuous spectrum. It took me a while to convince dermatologists I was working with that hand eczema should not be classified into 6 distinct classes ranging from 0 (clean) to 5 (very severe), but that it is a continuous scale, so I should not design a classifier for them, but do regression analysis instead (which might indeed say the severity was 4.5).

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Another AI attack, this time against 'black box' machine learning

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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It is curious how these (otherwise very successful) deep-learning-based algorithms fail in ways that are radically different from methods based on hand-crafted features (which have their own set of problems), or for that matter the human observer. This suggests to me that deep learning as it is implemented now is not a very good model for the way humans learn, because the adversarial examples shown in the paper would never be mistaken by humans. In the human brain there are structures that where selected for over hundreds of millions of years of evolution (itself an optimization or learning process). This selected an architecture which in turn allows adaptive learning of features. It will be interesting to see how we can learn or design better architectures for these deep networks, or in general machine learning algorithms

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Sigh. It's not quite Star Trek's Data, but it'll do: AI helps boffins clock second Solar System

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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But at least most of us ...

don't think digital watches are a pretty neat idea

Doffs hat (black fedora, once more) to the late, great Douglas Adams

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Engineer named Jason told to re-write the calendar

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I am surprised ...

Nobody asked: "Is it safe?"

I'll get me coat

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Google boffins tease custom AI math-chip TPU2 stats: 45 TFLOPS, 16GB HBM, benchmarks

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Single precision?

For bigger matrix multiplications single precision floats often lead to unacceptable accumulation of round-off errors. I am surprised no double-precision figures are given. I would also be very interested in the power drain of these TPUs. In robots with a limited battery capacity, you really need to think hard about power draw from the computers (and yes, I know these won't be available for us any time soon). There are some excellent deep-learning based stereo methods, but they do require a GPU, so we are looking at hand-crafted methods which hopefully give similar accuracy, whilst running on a Raspberry Pi (not sure that will work, of course, but if successful it will seriously reduce power issues).

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NASA says New Horizons' next stop might have a moon

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Wonderful stuff

NASA, ESA and all those other organisations just keep on producing such exciting stuff!

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Millions of moaners vindicated: Man flu is 'a thing', says researcher, and big TVs are cure

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Bowmore is very nice, but I am also quite partial to Talisker's Port Ruighe. Slightly gentler on the throat, which might be beneficial. Some smoked Scottish salmon to go with it (only for the correct balance of omega fatty accids, of course) would go down nicely as well

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Boffins show off speedy quantum CNOT gate - in silicon

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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We certainly live in interesting times ...

especially with our growing ability to control uncertainty

Sorry, couldn't resist. The one with Erwin Schrödinger's "What is Life?" in the pocket (fascinating read), please!

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Language bugs infest downstream software, fuzzer finds

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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This is a perennial problem

I wonder why this is news, as this issue has been known under many guises for a long time. My own code might be provably correct, but what about the compiler, libraries or even the OS it is running on? For that matter, what about the hardware (Pentium floating point bug, anyone)? I remember having to create quite a few workarounds for compiler and run-time library errors in image processing software I developed in the past. The problem with workarounds is that they might actually bork the code when the error in compiler or library is fixed. Luckily these were DOS systems not connected to the internet, so the attack surface consisted mainly of floppies thoughtless users inserted into the system, but the fundamental issue remains: The security of your code depends on that of many others.

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Oregon will let engineer refer to himself as an 'engineer'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: UK had IEE not IET

The IEEE is a world-wide organisation. I am a senior member (which essentially means you have worked in the field long enough for them to send you a brass plaque, not that you have done anything really special), but have never lived or worked in the USA. I don't tend to call myself engineer, so could safely go to Oregon, I suppose.

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