* Posts by boltar

2598 posts • joined 15 Oct 2008

Python creator Guido van Rossum sys.exit()s as language overlord

boltar
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Re: reflecting opinions more than best practice

"I'm old enough to know that Python is just the present "flavor of the month" programming language"

If using a flavour of the month language means that Perl finally crawls away and dies then thats good enough for me. Anyway, after being around this long I think its fair to say Python is part of the dev furniture now, not a newcomer.

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Outage outrage: TSB app offers users a TITSUP* encore

boltar
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Re: My nearest town has two banks remaining

"In the 21st century, there should be no reason to need a physical branch near you, surely ?"

Apparently you didn't RTFA. I can't think of a better reason to have physical branches than during these sorts of cockups. And as others have mentioned, not everyone is 25 , lives in an urban area with banks a short bus ride away and has internet access. Perhaps you might try giving a shit about the older generation and those living in the countryside occasionally.

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Cancelled in Crawley? At least your train has free Wi-Fi now, right?

boltar
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Re: If only...

"Then think about the differing needs of people who are at different points in their lives."

No one is at the point in their life where they can't be without internet access for an hour or too. Even teenagers can manage to go without for that length of time if pushed. If someone really can't then they need professional help.

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boltar
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Re: If only...

"I would agree if tasks can only be done one at a time. However, that is not true is it?"

There is only 1 pot of money. Use some to provide wifi and you have less to pay for the important things.

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boltar
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Re: If only...

"And with that attitude, the UK is always destined to be an IT, technology and infrastructure backwater."

There's something known as priorities and Wifi access should be somewhere near the bottom when it comes to railways. Their primary purporse is to get people from A to B, not act as a substitute hotspot. I spend enough money on travel as it is without subsidising playtime for kidults.

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boltar
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Built in the age of steam?

FTA:

"Up until the train plunges into a tunnel built in the age of steam, of course."

I hate to break the news to you Mr Speed (surely thats a pseudonym?) , but a tunnel is a tunnel - they're big long holes in the ground. That doesn't change whether it was build 150 years ago or last week and being underground has this funny habit of cutting off radio signals. Thats right, physics hasn't changed either in 150 years. Now you can put repeaters in the tunnel but that costs money , and where do you think this money is going to come from? Thats right, the already sky high ticket prices.

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boltar
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Re: If only...

"You'd almost think that nobody had tackled the tunnel problem before. Oh, wait..."

Installing thousands of miles of leaky feeder cable plus supporting infrastructure would

A) Cost an absolute fortune which would be recovered from ticket costs

B) Would be Network Rails responsibility, not train operators.

Personally I think people should be grateful they can get wifi at all on a moving train and if they're unhappy with the free service then they can always take their chances with 4G. I'd prefer the train companies sort out their useless timetables and performance issues rather than waste time and money setting up infrastructure so some morons can talk bollocks on whatsapp or are so addicted that they can't wait an hour to get online.

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As far as the gender pay gap in Britain goes, IBM could do much worse

boltar
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Re: Industry drenched in testosterone

"So predictable with your assumptions about why women don't work in your industry and men don't work with young children."

Known facts are predictable in an argument. Thats why they're called facts. Women and men do generally have different interests, denying that only makes you look like a reality denying fool who lives in some ideological fantasy world.

"idiotic"

Says Jeremy Puddleduck.

"But, hey, let's not worry about the real societal causes for such large inequalities in certain countries"

The assumption was this discussion was about the west given that "in Britain" was in the article title. Perhaps that wasn't enough of a clue for you. So lets hear your theories on why women don't go into IT much in europe and north america. Presumably someone is "oppressing" them in some way. Who and how. Be specific, no hand waving vagueries.

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boltar
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Re: Industry drenched in testosterone

Its the usual self flaggilation from ignorant male journos who think they're being feminist on-message by dissing any industry that is predominantly male. Not because there's any in built in bias in these industries, but simply because men and women in general (obviously there are exceptions) have different interests and one of the things that interests men more than women is computers. In the same way few men are interested in working with young children so out of about 20 staff at my kids nursery only 1 is a guy. That doesn't seem to bother any of the right-on crowd however. Funny that. And I wonder how they'd react to their industry described as being "drenched in oestrogen"?

But hey, lets not worry about facts, much easier to scream sexism and collect the SJW inclusivity kudos.

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Chrome sends old Macs on permanent Safari: Browser bricks itself

boltar
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Re: the software may be insecure

"taking that view the analogy of the road holds up."

Until someone dies from slight networking or DNS lookup delays caused by a botnet then the analogy may hold water - until then its bollocks.

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boltar
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Re: the software may be insecure

"Harsh as it is, I don't want people running old insecure systems online. It's the same principle as forcing old unsafe vehicles off the road. It is bad luck for those individuals but necessary for the greater good."

A moronic comparison. An unsafe vehicle may cost lives, an unsafe browser may (in a miniscule number of cases) cost some lost personal data. There's an exponential difference in consequences.

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boltar
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Re: Mavericks isn't exactly a spring chicken

"It's doing networking, and Apple have been fairly aggressively tinkering with their networking stacks"

There's something called the sockets API. Its remained unchanged pretty much since the 80s and it hasn't changed on the current version of OS/X so your argument is rubbish. The changes to the networking stacks should - if apple has got it right - be completely invisible to a userspace application.

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boltar
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Re: Mavericks isn't exactly a spring chicken

"Except for the need to maintain the codebase (ifdefs increase complexity dramatically)"

Not when its different versions of the same OS. The actual differences will be slight if anything at all.

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boltar
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Re: Why use Chrome anyway?

" It seems all browsers are sponsored nowadays by the same party, and rather hostile to the users' privacy :("

Unfortunately this is the price of free these days. I rather wish GNU would write their own browser because then it really would be free but I guess the manpower required to do so is beyond their resources at the moment.

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boltar
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Re: Mavericks isn't exactly a spring chicken

It doesn't matter that its not a spring chicken, we're just talking a browser here, not some RDBMS thats intricately linked to the OS kernel. There is zero reason not to support older versions of OS/X other than they simply can't be bothered and/or the intern they've got looking after their build system doesn't understand the concept of #ifdef.

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Citation needed: Europe claims Kaspersky wares 'confirmed as malicious'

boltar
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Re: They learned from the best!

"once again became sovereign nations. If they decide to join Nato (possibly because of their proximity to Russia!), that's up to them."

Tell that to Georgia.

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boltar
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Re: You do not need evidence against Russians

"That does not mean it was the government indirectly."

Well given ukraine doesn't have those missiles in their arsenal perhaps you'd like to fill us in on who you think it might have been if not the russians or their proxies in eastern ukraine? Take your time.

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Microsoft loves Linux so much its R Open install script rm'd /bin/sh

boltar
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Re: EEE play

"Evil empire M$ with Gates in the background "

I don't think Gates cares anymore. He's taken his money and gone and I get the feeling he more or less washed his hands of MS when he stepped down as chairman. Obviously saw the writing on the wall and didn't want to go down with a sinking ship. And credit to him he's actually spending his money on worthwhile causes unlike Larry Eillison who seems to think buying yet another yacht is the pinnacle of lifes achievements.

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boltar
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Re: Typical installer written in a large company

"Nah, you don't have to be a pro developer. A mate wrote the install and deinstall scripts and did the whole packaging for a latex document class we developed together for .deb-systems. Yes, he is really bright, but not a software developer. He can read man pages and understand them and is OCD enough to obsess about little details until they are correct."

Yeah, because man pages cover all unexpected eventualities and gotchas and can easily substitute for years of on the job experience.

*sigh*

And people wonder why there are so many monumental cockups occuring in IT these days.

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Dinosaurs permitted to mate: But what does AT&T Time merger mean for antitrust – and you?

boltar
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Re: What does it mean to me?

"Aside from that, it's very silly to assume that changes in the IT landscape in the US have no effect on the UK"

Its just 2 US corps merging, neither of which have a significant broadband or any other type of presense IT or otherwise in the UK. Who cares?

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boltar
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What does it mean to me?

Nothing, I live in the UK (this is still a UK based site isn't it?) and couldn't care less.

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NASA finds more stuff suggesting Mars could have hosted life, maybe

boltar
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Re: Suggestive, but nothing more

"One of the big reasons no other animal has developed a technological civilization is that we beat them to it and have thoroughly occupied that niche, leaving no room for any others. As you said, "ask the Neanderthals.""

Homo sapiens are a very recent arrival on the scene - chimps were around for about 2 million years before we showed up. If they were going to evolve any further they would have done so. Ditto all the other animals.

"Your argument seems to boil down to "we're the only really intelligent species on the planet therefore intelligence is unlikely," but it's a flawed argument for many reasons."

I don't think so - it took evolution 3.5 billion years to come up with us and it was never a given - it was down to a unique set of circumstances that we still down fully understand. There is zero reason to assume it was inevitable either here (if circumstances had been slightly different) or on any other planet. Evolution evolves the fittest, not the smartest. If the 2 coincide very occasionally then so be it,, but its not an inevitable outcome.

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boltar
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The fact that I keep getting modded down for stating facts...

... shows there's either a lot of wishful thinking optimists on here or you're all a bit thick. Take your pick.

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boltar
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Re: Suggestive, but nothing more

"Intelligent life has to evolve. That, again, seems hard. Then again, both elephants and whales are pretty intelligent. As are chimps."

Why does it have to? Multicellular life evvolved 600 million years ago. Single celled life evolved 3.5 BILLION years ago - ie 2.9 billion years where nothing much else happened. So if you ask me multicellular life is an extrenly rare fluke.

As for the animals you mentioned, they've all been around a few million years and have yet to even evolve complex speech, never mind build anything resembling a civilisation. Intelligence is an evolved survival trait and is energy intensive, so the minimum required is what will occur. Humans were a special one off case (as far as we know) in 3.5 billion years of life on this planet and whats more simply being intelligent doesn't mean you'll survive long enough to invent complex technology. Ask the Neanderthals.

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boltar
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Re: Suggestive, but nothing more

"Space is *really really really* big. You have no idea how big."

Yes I do. However you apparently have no idea how small the probability of all the events leading up to humans becoming a civilisation are.

"With 100 Billion or more stars in a galaxy and what is looking like trillions of galaxies out there, even things with infinitesimally small probability of occurring start to happen pretty damned often."

Not necessaily. You can have an infinite number of different scenarious and still not have a one that matches the criteria. Don't belive me? Ok, how many fractions are there between 0 and 1/2? And where in that infinite list is 3/4?

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boltar
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Re: Suggestive, but nothing more

"We are therefore still alone,"

I think we'll always be alone since IMO our civilisation is a one off fluke. For it to arise a number of things

had to happen:

1) A planet with an enviroment for suitable chemical reactions to occur

2) Somehow the chemical reactions lead to a self reproducing system

3) Single celled life became multicell

4) Life had to make it out of water onto land (not much chance of fish building a spaceship) which was possibly helped by a large moon causing tides

5) Humans had to evolve - not a given especially if that asteroid had missed 65 million years ago

6) The industrial revolution had to occur. Again not a given - if there had been no coal deposits we'd still be riding around on horses with the most advanced machines being windmills.

7) The computer revolution had to occur.

I'm sure there are plenty of other important points in history that could have led to a very different outcome, but the point is - life evolving may or may not be rare, but a technological civilisation IMO is.

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Oddly enough, when a Tesla accelerates at a barrier, someone dies: Autopilot report lands

boltar
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@Baldrickk

"If there is any stationary object, including another a vehicle in your lane, the "Autopilot" will plow right into it. "

Sorry, that last line confused me - how come it can spot a moving car/object in front of it and slow accordingly but not a stationary one? That makes no sense and suggests it would plow into a traffic jam which is clearly not the case since Autopilot works in traffic. I suspect the radar signal from the divider wasn't big enough at first to cause a reaction but you'd expect that when fairly close to it the computer would realise there's a stationary object in front and at least try to slow down. The fact that it didn't suggests a serious bug rather than an overall design fault.

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UK's first transatlantic F-35 delivery flight delayed by weather

boltar
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Re: Clouds are no joke - never have been ...

"They surmised the plane hit something while trying top restart after emerging from clouds."

The earlier merlin engines couldn't handle negative G and would suffer fuel starvation and conk out**. Could possibly have been the cause of him having to restart.

** Proving that even in the "good old days", the UK armed forces weren't free of almighty design cockups.

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US govt mulls snatching back full control of the internet's domain name and IP address admin

boltar
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Free for all?

"those questions expose the fact that the internet isn't quite the free for all we all expect and hope it is."

Only naive hippies and techno utopians ever thought the internet would be a virtual space free from any kind of external control. The internet is just a bunch of computers, cables and satellite systems owned and controlled by someone and they and the laws of various lands get to choose how and even if you get to use them. If you're not happy with that then you're free to spend probably a few trillion dollars to set up your own alternative.

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Blighty's super-duper F-35B fighter jets are due to arrive in a few weeks

boltar
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Re: "It was ingenious but miles from being high-tech"

"And it was perfect for the job, the standard all tech should be measured againts."

Indeed. You only have to look at most engineered systems these days to see maybe not engineering, but certainly software overkill, whether its from trains that won't open their doors because they can't get a GPS signal (why does a train need GPS, they know where the track goes and the stations don't move!) to cars whose brakes can be hacked via their wifi enabled entertainment systems to (an example from my office) lifts that stop working the minute the computer detects the slightest minor non safety related issue.

Unfortunately designers forget that because software is easy to add to a system it doesn't mean that adding ever more and more is always good idea. IIRC the computers controlling the space shuttle had something like 16K of memory. The software for the cockpit heater in the F35 probably uses up more memory space than that.

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Openreach consults on shift of 16 MEEELLION phone lines to VoIP by 2025

boltar
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Re: Problems

"e.g. a recurrence of the comms issues of the 7/7 incident or another Grenfell-class incident, because although mistakes may have been made, lessons have been learned"

Lessons are never learnt, all thats happened is a cliche has been parrotted. Lessons didn't need to be learned, it would have been obvious to an utter cretin that cladding a building in tons of flammable material was a bad idea and so hopefully some councillers will be doing porridge for it. Where saving money is the main factor corners will always be cut by the unscrupulous and the gutless too scared to stand up to their bosses.

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boltar
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Re: Problems

"omeone stuck in a lift who almost certainly has a mobile phone on them, alarm buttons, staff on site, etc"

Phones don't always work in a big metal box inside a shaft full of metal beams and if its after hours there may be no one to hear the alarm if its simply a buzzer in reception.

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Airbus windscreen fell out at 32,000 feet

boltar
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Re: Last time this happened...

"The instrument panel can be fully below the actual window and still block access to the bottom row of fasteners keeping that window in place."

Screwdrivers and keys that can turn a screw and bolt at a 90 degree angle have been around for a while now but if thats not good enough because the bolts are too long to come out without removing the equipment I'd still say thats worth the trouble because of the extra safety confered by having the window mounted inside the frame rather than outside. There's a reason its done that way with the doors!

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boltar
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Re: Last time this happened...

"Even if that meant the entire instrument panel had to be dismantled and 100 of instruments disconnected to replace a window ?"

Why would it need to be dismantled? If the instruments were that much in the way they'd block the view out of the window so much there'd be no point having one.

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Microsoft programming chief to devs: Tell us where Windows hurt you

boltar
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Re: Pain points, you say?

"If your C code happens to go through their C++ compiler, that's a bonus."

If your C++ code goes through their C++ compiler thats a bonus too. Its hardly up to date wrt standards.

Its times like this I'm glad I stuck with unix development. gcc, vim, gdb, strace and make - they just work and I can get on with developing applications, not learn a new fucking IDE or API every year to do the same thing as I could do with the old one that some PHB decided to deprecate or some goofy interface "designer" thought he would "improve" by randomly shuffling everything around and renaming stuff.

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Microsoft's most popular SQL Server product of all time runs on Linux

boltar
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Re: laugh or cry

"Microsoft know the vast majority of users will eventually want features like always on availability group clustering in production so they will eventually need SQL on Windows Server and then end up paying for the fully capable version."

Thats entirely the point. Get them hooked then reel them into the windows ecosystem when their systems are too complex to switch to another DB. In supermarket terms it would be called a loss leader.

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MacBook Pro petition begs Apple for total recall of krap keyboards

boltar
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Re: Useless Apple

"Jesus wept- are you really blaming it on a Zionist conspiracy?"

Its truly amazing how many staggeringly dumb people there are on this site.

Go look up "analogy" you brainless gimp.

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Microsoft's latest Windows 10 update downs Chrome, Cortana

boltar
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Re: It it ain't broke, you're not trying

"Desktop Linux remains impossible to install without searching online for cures to cryptic configuration bugs."

I installed Slackware on my laptop. The only issues I've had are with printer drivers. But then frankly, who hasn't had problems with those at some point?

"(Using Linux 18.04 right now and the Super key works fine on one computer but only semi-works on another)"

There's no such thing as Linux 18.04. You mean Ubuntu. And that doesn't work for you try another distro, there are plenty to choose from. Ubuntu tends to have a lot of bleeding edge stuff in it which can be less than reliable at times.

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boltar
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Re: Sad really to see MS in such a state now

"MS are going the way of IBM, they were top of their game at one point but sadly the world around them is moving far faster than they can possibly keep up "

Every decade or so people start to write IBMs obituary. Well its still going, mainly IMO because unlike a lot of large corps that divested divisions to concentrate on "core strengths" (whatever that means), it has kept fingers in many pies, the only noticable sell off being its home PC division. MS OTOH is by nature a one trick pony despite various attempts to saddle other horses, and that pony is becoming increasingly lame. Whether it'll still be around in 20 years time isn't something I'd want to lay money on frankly.

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

boltar
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Re: The most amazing engineering - translation

"'Stop being a sooky' = 'stop being a crying baby."

So why not just say that instead of using some kiwi slang no one within 12000 miles of london understands apart from your compatriots.

As for being a cry baby - its easy to criticise others who don't like stuff that doesn't personally bother you. But then looking back through your posts you're not exactly Mr Perfect. No wonder your wife fucked off.

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boltar
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Re: The most amazing engineering

"Yes, exactly. To have 20 or 30 concorde flights taking off and landing every day must have been hell. Oh, wait, it was what? 2 or 3?"

And add in all the other aircraft and it becomes a nightmare.

"But somehow, we struggled on."

So because you didn't have a problem with it - kids generally don't FWIW - then others should just stop whinging and carry on? You smug self righteous pillock. Not everyone is an aircraft fan who goes week at the knees at seeing concorde, some of us just see a machine, not a "bird" nor do we engage in some lame pseudo romantic anthropomorphic nonsense and call it "her" or "she" while going all misty eyed. It was a plane to get businessmen to new york a few hours faster, BFD, a PITA for anyone nearby the airport on the ground and an enviromental disaster. I'm glad its gone. Mod me down planespotters, I couldn't care less. When you're done zip up your anoraks, fill up your thermoses and go stand in some mud next to a fence waiting for more "birds" to fly over you you sad bastards.

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boltar
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Re: The most amazing engineering

"Stop being a sooky."

English translation anyone?

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boltar
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Re: The most amazing engineering

"I bet the runway was there before your old office. Always amuses me when people complain about what they moved next door to."

I was talking about aircraft in general. By the time I worked there concorde was thankfully long gone. And FWIW I terminated that contract early, I couldn't stand working there any longer as my health had begun to suffer. Even now when I smell jet fuel I start to feel nauseous.

I like cars, but I wouldn't want to live or work on the hard shoulder of the M25 either.

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boltar
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Re: The most amazing engineering

"And as a kid I used to see it doing the test fights high in the sky over Wiltshire. Amazing machine."

The Saturn V was an amazing machine, but you wouldn't want one taking off a few miles away from you every damn day. Concorde might have been an engineering tour de force, however it was also bloody obnoxious to anyone who had to endure it regularly. Its all very easy to get misty eyed about it if you didn't have to suffer the consequences.

FWIW I used to work in an office right next to the heathrow runway and the novelty of planes taking off and landing gets old REALLY fast. After a few days all you notice is the noise and the disgusting smell of jet fuel if the wind is blowing in your direction.

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boltar
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Re: The most amazing engineering

Amazing engineering from one point of view, until you look at its fuel consumption and the levels of pollutants it puts out. Ok in the 1970s, not so much today. Even if BA and AF hadn't canned it it would by now probably be in breach of half a dozen noise and pollution regulations. And as someone who lived 15 miles from heathrow and still had to put his hands over his ears when concorde flew over just so some businessmen could save 3 hours flying time to one city, I'm not particularly sad to see it gone.

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Your AI pet project is only as smart as its garbage training set

boltar
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"Why don't use natural language directly instead of programming?"

Because natural language doesn't map particularly well to computer hardware, is often vague and long winded and there are thousand of different ones. It was tried with cobol so instead of just writing a = b + c you had to write something like ADD A TO B GIVING C. How is that an improvement especially if you don't speak english? And that is just a simple example, good luck trying to write

hash[(j+i) % HASH_LEN] ^= (((byte >> (j % 8)) & 1) << (i % 8));

in any natural language that doesn't take up half a page and be even less intelligable than what it is trying to replace.

Natural language isn't always the best way to describe something, otherwise we wouldn't have pictures.

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boltar
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Re: So what we are saying is

"If that's the case, where is the actual AI? It's just a complex rules engine."

Pretty much. At the end of the day it is just software after all, albeit the complexity being in the learned weights rather than hard coded programming. They're really little more than massive interlinked if-then decisions trees based on summed weights and I suspect in theory you could convert one into standard code but in practice it would be next to impossible for all but the simplest toy examples.

The other problem neural nets - and other methods have - is overfitting the training data. Ie they simply learn to recognise the training data and not much else. Give them a training example and they'll be spot on, give them something they haven't seen before and they'll produce some rubbish as output. As I've only dabbled I can't remember how this is remedied, but obviously it is.

Suffice to say its an extremely complex field most of the low level details of which are beyond me and probably 95% of even good coders, and while you often see comedy geeks with wacky haircuts and questionable t-shirts or slick smarmy bros discussing this stuff one should not judge by appearances - those geeks and bros quite often have hardcore MScs and Phds and behind the facade are borderline geniuses.

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Apple's magical quality engineering strikes again: You may want to hold off that macOS High Sierra update...

boltar
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Re: countless issues

"Just disconnect the machines from the network. If you can't do that, _then_ you have a problem."

Most people only have 1 desktop or laptop and never connecting it to the internet is generally not an option if they ever want to download software, upload work, search for answers or send emails. And thats before you get to trivial stuff like social media and youtube. Yes, in theory you *could* work on a disconnected machine, put everything on a USB stick and head off down the nearest cybercafe (are there any left?) but I very much doubt anyone who values their time will be prepared to do that.

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Signal app guru Moxie: Facebook is like Exxon. Everyone needs it, everyone despises it

boltar
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Re: This indispensable tool ...

"We used to be able to keep in touch with each other before the telephone was invented, too."

The telephone was a considerable improvement on writing a letter to someone , not just in speed of communication but in the ability to hear the other persons voice. How is *writing* to someone an improvement on the phone? Email was useful for sending documents, images and other materials you couldn't dictate , facebook is useful for ..... nope, drawing a blank.

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