* Posts by MacroRodent

1424 posts • joined 18 May 2007


Do you feel 'lucky', well, do you, punk? Google faces down magic button patent claim

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: Was that a good idea?

2017 < 2019

Maybe, maybe not. Around that time, the rules for computing the term of patents in the U.S were changing from the time of granting to the time of filing, and the patent term changed from 17 to 20 years, and existing patents could pick whatever would produce the longest term. And there can be continuations of the filing. So figuring out when a patent expires is not so simple. A system designed to keep lawyers occupied...

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: Yiddish?

Yes, it is a separate Germanic language. Its most famous user was probably the writer Isaac Bashevis Singer, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978. He wrote the original works in Yiddish and translated them to English himself.

MacroRodent Silver badge

Was that a good idea?

> specifically Joe Belfiore's patent for "Intelligent automatic searching" which he developed while working for Microsoft

So, can MS now sue them next? (Of course it is possible, even likely they have a cross-licencing deal that covers this).

RIP 2019-2019: The first plant to grow on the Moon? Yeah, it's dead already, Chinese admit

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Re: Puzzled

There is probably no terrestrial plant that can handle that (aside from perhaps Antarctic lichens, but they aren't plants, strictly speaking). In northern latitudes, many plants survive winter, but the temperatures never get as low as in the lunar night, and they prepare for it during the summer and autumn: drop leaves and pump valuable stuff to roots like most trees do, or it is only the root system that survives.

Seeds might survive, but in the Chinese experiment these apparently had already germinated.

So their can is full of totally dead things by Lunar morning.

Oh, SSH, IT please see this: Malicious servers can fsck with your PC's files during scp slurps

MacroRodent Silver badge

The sound of a ball dropping.

Quite a ghastly problem in software one relies to transfer files safely. In particular, I am disappointed no official OpenSSH fix has been released, even though they have known about this for months, they at least used to have a very good reputation in security.

Wanted – have you seen this MAC address: f8:e0:79:af:57:eb? German cops appeal for logs in bomb probe

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Re: Am i being thick...

I was about to ask the same thing (but then, I may be thick also, at least if you ask my missus).

Typical! You wait ages for a fast radio burst from outer space, and suddenly 13 show up

MacroRodent Silver badge

> I'm presuming they don't need to worry about a forced windows 10 creators update..

Don't worry, massive scientific computations like that a usually run on Linux.

My 2019 resolution? Not to buy any of THIS rubbish

MacroRodent Silver badge

The Playmobil angle

> Choose-your-own-adventure entertainment

Yes, the Black Mirror episode was a bit underwhelming (a bit fun when you choose the "sign" on the main characters screen to be "Netflics"). There was a Playmobil film about pirates that implemented this idea just as well on a DVD, had it once borrowed for the family.

Apple blew my mind – literally, says woman: MagSafe plug sparked face-torching blaze, lawsuit claims

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Re: Her Lawyer quite obviously studied chemistry in the US education system

> The mask itself, likely made from a plastic polymer of some sort, would be a fine ignition source.

Doesn't this mean the real problem is the material of the mask? It should have been made of something that does not burn in pure oxygen.

Heard the one where the boss calls in an Oracle consultant who couldn't fix the database?

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: The Hot Shot Database Team

Reminds me of the about only SQL application I made, calling MySQL from a command-line program. Fairly simple, just two or three tables. One operation was entering a lot of record from a file into the tables. Worked fine and quickly locally for even a quite large file. Released it and soon people from a China office complained the enter from file operation took hours. Turned out the latency killed it, the db was in Finland, so each MySQL command paused for the round trip, waiting for response, and several were needed per each entry! But fortunately I found a fix that made the speed tolerable: pack the per-entry operations into a stored procedure, and call that with the data to be entered. It was also possible to send several (around hundred) of these calls in one MySQL api call.

Slap for Slack chat app after US, Canada chaps zapped in Iranian IP address map whack

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Re: Weaponizing potential

Isn't Slack just a chat client? Something that should be implementable in a megabyte or two, even if you write it in Java.

A few reasons why cops haven't immediately shot down London Gatwick airport drone menace

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

How about focused microwaves? Would fry the electronics -> drone falls.

Silent night, social fight: Is Instagram the new Facebook for pro-Trump Russian propagandists?

MacroRodent Silver badge

Petrol on flames

The propaganda did not create the divisive issues, but it certainly did its best to inflame them, and manipulate the discussion. If an arsonist sets a house on fire, a bystander is guilty too, if he proceeds to pour petrol on the flames.

Apple iPhone X screen falls short of promises, lawsuit says

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: Does anyone have eyes that good?

And in any case the display quality is one of the very few things about a phone you can judge by your eyes before buying it.

Boffins build blazing battery bonfire

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Re: Interesting idea

without climate change, most climate researchers would not have a job

Unlikely. There were climate researchers long before this became a hot item. Hard to say how much it has affected the number of persons working on it, but I doubt it has even doubled or something like that. By contrast, without homeopathy there would be no homeopathists at all. Another difference is that climatology is a science, where evidence makes or breaks theories. Not like pseudosciences, where "researchers" concentrate on confirming the particular fallacy. If global temperatures started falling, and it would continue falling for years, the climatologists would eventually admit they were wrong. But nothing would convince homeopathists that all they see is at best the placebo effect.

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: Interesting idea

1/ : yes. While truth is not determined by majority vote, I find it completely absurd to believe 99.9% of climate researchers have been persuaded to join a global conspiracy promoting a fake climate change problem.

Now you, too, can snoop on mobe users from 3G to 5G with a Raspberry Pi and €1,100 of gizmos

MacroRodent Silver badge


Seriously? I didn't notice, but then, I work with telecom where documents very nearly consist of acronyms only...

Sysadmin’s plan to manage system config changes backfires spectacularly

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Re: SCCS hits you

Tag expansion also happens in RCS, CVS and Subversion (in the latter it has to be enabled in the properties of the file). The difference is that the tag trigger notation in these ($id: ,,,,$ and some others) stays in the file, in SCCS the magic strings expand to version numbers without the triggering character sequence.

Git lost this feature, because it is seriously contrary to its idea of identifying versions with a hash of the file contents. Expanding a version tag would make the file be of a different version in the eyes of Git. A loss, because the embedded file version numbers have often saved my sanity by allowing a compiled program identify what file versions it has been put together from.

MacroRodent Silver badge

SCCS hits you

The version control system must have been SCCS, which was for years the standard tool for this on Unix. It has this weird default of removing the edited copy of the file when you check in the changes. There is an option to immediately check out the read-only copy, but it is not the default behaviour.

Google internal revolt grows as search-engine Spartacuses prepare strike over China

MacroRodent Silver badge

Fork in the road

This is just one example of the grand challenge western civilization is facing now. Do we have the guts to stick to the hard-won principles of human rights and the rule of law, or do we sell them for a bowl of soup, like Esau in the Bible?

[Gets down from the soap-box, picks up the sign saying "Repent!"]

GCHQ pushes for 'virtual crocodile clips' on chat apps – the ability to silently slip into private encrypted comms

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: End-to-End and Open Source

Exactly. It is not proper end-to-end encryption, if someone can silently add a middleman or a "virtual crocodile clip".

Boeing 737 pilots battled confused safety system that plunged aircraft to their deaths – black box

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: Lack of systems thinking

How do you know that 2 sensors malfunction if they show reasonably close values? True story, happened to an Airbus A321 in 2014.

A really tough problem. Perhaps using sensors of different design, hoping that if they fail, they don't fail in quite the same way?

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: Hey software, get the fuck out of the way!

Sounds like that angle of attack sensor should be triplicated. How else can the software decide which sensor is bad, if both produce plausible values (one being wrong, but not impossibly so).

- And the same for goes for all other safety-critical sensors.

Forget DeepFakes. This robo-Rembrandt with AI for brains is not bad at knocking off paintings

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: I have zero problems

Paintings are three dimensional objects and a photograph rarely does them justice.

Depends on the style. Old masters worked with very thin paint layers, and their works are pretty much 2-dimensional unless viewed with a magnifying glass. Slapping on lots of paint became fashionable only in the 19th century.

Even then, a well-made photographic copy, especial if printed on canvas and framed, is very convincing from some distance.

Check your repos... Crypto-coin-stealing code sneaks into fairly popular NPM lib (2m downloads per week)

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: Javascript

> Much as I dislike Javascript, how is this specific to Javascript? This could have just as easily been an obscure Perl module or C library that is a dependency for something widely used.

Could hit Perl, perhaps, but in the case of C (or C++) there is no tradition of automatically pulling dependencies off the web whenever you build. Your program typically depends only on libraries that either are part of the platform, or ones that you explicitly install beforehand. In the latter case they usually come from a vendor, or (typically in Linux or BSD) from the curated and digitally signed collection of packages the distribution maintains. These mechanisms make slipping bad code in harder (Not impossible, but much harder).

Reverse Ferret! Forget what we told you – the iPad isn't really for work

MacroRodent Silver badge
Thumb Up

modern TV

> Tablets are great as a reader, media player, general surfing and for occasional games but frankly quite useless for workstation chores.

Exactly what I have been saying all along. The tablet is the IT equivalent of a television: a device for consuming content. Very useful in that role (my household currently has two iPads), but if anything needs to be done, it is time to open the laptop.

Fancy Bear hacker crew Putin dirty RATs in Word documents emailed to govt orgs – report

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: Here we go again

> 15 years ago with office 2003, Microsoft implemented a macro security setting called "high", which [...]

But the results are already in: The continued success of Word macro attacks shows this approach does not work in practice. For getting any security, macros need to be seriously restricted, or the feature removed entirely.

MacroRodent Silver badge

Here we go again

The stupidity of allowing macros in docs to do arbitrary things (handling other data than the document itself) was apparent already more than 20 years ago, but still MS Word continues to support it. Attacks like this just would not work, if the macros were sandboxed properly.

Behold, the world's most popular programming language – and it is...wait, er, YAML?!?

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: The ghost of John Backus would like a quiet word

Besides, Backus, as one of the true pioneers of programming languages and compilers, can be excused for not getting every design decision right!

MacroRodent Silver badge

Apples and oranges comparison

Or maybe even an apples and lampreys comparison. You could just as well argue ASCII text files are the largest programming language of them all. A static data syntax is not a programming language at all.

Microsoft confirms: We fixed Azure by turning it off and on again. PS: Office 362 is still borked

MacroRodent Silver badge

Office 300 + rand () % 100

Seems I am not the only one with trouble remembering which number starting with 3 is in the cloudy office name.

Washington Post offers invalid cookie consent under EU rules – ICO

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: Other solution

it is rare that they have anything unique.

Disagree here: The Washington Post, along with The New York Times, is one of the places, where most other news outlets copy their U.S-related news from. So you get it first by reading WP. As for cookies, that fight was lost long ago, and efforts to fight them have just caused each site to have the annoying cookie acceptance pop-up that most people click anyway without thinking. A total waste of time. GDPR did not change anything in practice.

Between you, me and that dodgy-looking USB: A little bit of paranoia never hurt anyone

MacroRodent Silver badge

re surveys

> 2. Followed by an e-mail sent from an external company to me about an anonymous employee survey, participation is very strongly encouraged, and please click here.

Wonder if you work in the same $BIGCORP as me. Happens here all the time...

That amazing Microsoft software quality, part 97: Windows Phone update kills Outlook, Calendar

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Re: Meh, all part of a grand plan

Indeed, it is as if Microsoft wants users to switch to Android. I agree WP8 was a huge advance over its successor! I switched last summer as a experiment (to the Samsung my son used to use - nowadays he get the latest tech, and me the second-hand :-)), but the WP10 Lumia phone has been sitting in my drawer as a backup. I guess better not switch it on, until MS fixes their latest fix.

We don' need no stinkin' bounties: VirtualBox guest-to-host escape zero-day lands at GitHub

MacroRodent Silver badge


...that the paravirtual card is unaffected (by this bug at least). Savvy uses of Linux in VirtualBox prefer it anyway for performance reasons, as it is an interface designed for virtual machines, not a simulation of some real hardware.

Woke Linus Torvalds rolls his first 4.20, mulls Linux 5.0 effort for 2019

MacroRodent Silver badge


I kept reading to see what new processor architectures would be added, but these appear to be only variants of old ones. A new ARM-based chipset? AMD Zen variant? Do not count as a new architectures in my book. The difference would be just in some device drivers, and some initialization code. Neither introduces a totally new instruction set.

We (may) now know the real reason for that IBM takeover. A distraction for Red Hat to axe KDE

MacroRodent Silver badge


Try just changing the timezone on a PC.

It is not XFCE's concern. Many modern Linux distributions have their own GUI tools for things like the setting up timezone, users, printers etc that are usable from various desktop environments.

MacroRodent Silver badge

Personally I "deprecated" both Gnome and KDE years ago. Bloat without any real gain. XFCE is what I have long used, and I notice most of my co-workers do likewise. Mate is also popular. However, I am a bit concerned whether XFCE or other light-weight desktops will be supported in the brave new Wayland world, as it appears to push some of the grunt work X11 used to do into the desktop environment.

Tiny Twitter thumbnail tweaked to transport different file types

MacroRodent Silver badge

For how long will it work?

Nice idea, but now that it is known, Twitter will probably soon tighten its metadata cleanup. Either by removing the ICC profile section, or by checking the section really is a plausible colour profile.

Pirate radio = drug dealing and municipal broadband is anti-competitive censorship

MacroRodent Silver badge


About the weird pirate radio rant, easy to see why. Airwaves are valuable commodities, cant have someone using them for free.

The D in Systemd stands for 'Dammmmit!' A nasty DHCPv6 packet can pwn a vulnerable Linux box

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: Meh

> but IPv6 seems to be far more bug prone than v4, and problems are rife in all implementations.

That is simply because it is currently less used. Bugs of this nature plagued IPv4 previously, before extensive usage sanded its edges. I remember reporting a somewhat similar IPv4 dhcpd problem to Red Hat about 15 years ago. Not as serious, it was a case of the server failing to recognize a packet that was correct according to the specs. In that time-frame, you could blow up just about any IPv4 service with malformed packets.

Tech world mulls threat as new round of US China trade tariffs looms

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Re: So is there scope here...

..for us Europeans to make a mint buying up stuff from China and selling it on to the US at "only" a 10% mark-up?

Yes, until The Donald slaps more tariffs also on EU imports.

Excuse me, but have you heard the teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Chr-AI-st?

MacroRodent Silver badge

No impressed

The sample makes it look like it mainly made different word choices, something even age-old joke programs could do (like the classic "jive filter"). Changing style meaningfully requires more. For example, one author could use shorter sentences, another one longer, present things in different order, use more or less similes, and so on.

Zip it! 3 more reasons to be glad you didn't jump on Windows 10 1809

MacroRodent Silver badge

It is not a nitpick if Windows silently fails to extract files from a zip archive. The use case described in the article is not esoteric in any way.

I ship you knot: 2,400-year-old Greek trading vessel found intact at bottom of Black Sea

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Leave it there

> as the Hellenic wreck will apparently not be removed from the seabed.

I certainly hope not, as it is the best place to keep it preserved. (They should also keep the exact location secret).

SQLite creator crucified after code of conduct warns devs to love God, and not kill, commit adultery, steal, curse...

MacroRodent Silver badge

No laughter?

The God bits don't bother me, but why should there be for example

54. Speak no useless words or words that move to laughter.

Also the

17. Bury the dead.

is not so relevant in today's society, where bodies are handled by specialists. I guess this was not the case in St Benedict's day, so he exhorted monks to take care of stray bodies in the gutter.

Can't get pranked by your team if nobody in the world can log on

MacroRodent Silver badge


So it was NT 3.51 to Windows 95? That was a downgrade in terms of security and stability. I used NT 3.51 for a while. Possibly the least crashing Windows I ever had. Unlike later versions, it still followed Cutler's original architecture that tried to minimize kernel mode code. Of course it had the bit clumsy Windows 3.x ui.

A DeepMind library to help build reinforcement learning bots, and how Google's Pixel 3 cameras handle zoom

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: Zoom and enhance

Last night wached on YouTube techmoan channel (recommended!) how the guy made an old police interview recorder work. This is a specialized c-cassette recorder that makes two copies of an recorded interview and adds audible time marks on the second track (of what would normally be the stereo pair). Also makes it harder to tamper with the tape. Apparently such recorders are one reason you still can buy new c-cassettes. Reassuring.

The Obama-era cyber détente with China was nice, wasn't it? Yeah well it's obviously over now

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: China

》name one national governement that isn't evil

Easy: just about any of the smaller western European countries. Part of the problem is scale. In small countries it is easier for citizens to hold the leadership accountable. I fear democracy just does not work above a certain size.

Huge ice blades on Jupiter’s Europa will make it a right pain in the ASCII to land on

MacroRodent Silver badge

Re: Does nobody ever read Larry Niven?

Besides, the locals would consider this a hostile act, and respond with a psychic attack (see Niven's "Handicapped").


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