* Posts by Paul 76

30 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

WannaCrypt 'may be the work of North Korea' theory floated

Paul 76

Re: Naive Question

A lot of incompetent coders out there. Educational Software is notoriously bad.

Paul 76

Re: Naive Question

So doing what MS do, then ? This is the organisation that recommended you used casts for the old GlobalLock()

Paul 76

Re: Skiddies

It's a nonsense. DPRK is not a rich country, but it's not so poor it's scrounging for bitcoin. If they did such a thing they would probably want information first (which you don't get if you announce ransomware) and chaos second (which could be done by changing data very very infrequently randomly, or just destroying it for example).

It's a standard ransomware thing that got out of hand, some person(s) built it on the released exploit and it was too successful.

While Microsoft griped about NSA exploit stockpiles, it stockpiled patches: Friday's WinXP fix was built in February

Paul 76

Re: Blame those who did not replace ancient kit

The absence of a patch in Linux is much less important because it isn't coded by cretins.

Windows 'releases' are just a new paint job and enough bodging to make hardware and software not work, coupled with lock ins

Paul 76

Re: Munich city now planning to move ALL their Linux desktops back to Windows

LiMux and LibreOffice are “far behind the current technical possibilities of established standard solutions”

So, someone's bought Microsoft's cr*p then ? Probably cash involved.

Either that or they play games on them a lot.

Paul 76

Re: "Also trusts stripping all attachments on incoming mail as a precaution."

Yes, or at least something not dissimilar. Only allowing HTML, XML or zipped XML for example, or just raw text.

Is it perhaps the case the real "villain" is a word processor which can run executables.

Apple vs. Samsung goes back to court, again, to re-assess the value of a rounded corner

Paul 76

Ah, yes the Apple idea

Have a look at https://patents.google.com/patent/US4279421A/en

It's a 1979 patent for a square flat gaming device with a touch area on a display underneath. The display is an array of 8 x 8 7 segment LCDs - the idea is that you play chess and the like on it - and it's primitive (1802 CPU, 128 bytes of RAM etc.) because of the date and the technology then available.

However, it is, to all intents and purposes the same thing as an iPad. We don't say things like the Sinclair ZX80 or the TRS80 Model 1 aren't somehow real computers just because they are primitive.

It has rounded corners as well. AFAICS it would look like a square iPad.

UK employers still reluctant to hire recent CompSci grads

Paul 76

Re: Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.--Djikstra

..... they aren't sold to CompSci grads...

Paul 76

Re: Reinvention

Yes, but if you are half decent you can flip about. I'm working on a project for someone in C++ on VS. Then I'm programming 1801 assembler for fun in the background. It's not that difficult, you just have to make allowances for the limitations of different languages.

Paul 76

Re: I see nothing has changed

No, virtually nobody does that any more. Some of us who are really old wrote our own games because we didn't have any otherwise (I had three computers before I had one which had any real games for it, the BBC Micro) by which time I was well in.

Paul 76

A few years ago I designed a monochrome PAL video display using an old DRAM I liberated from an ancient PC card. The idea was that it was driven by a microcontroller that fed the 8 address lines, CAS and RAS, data in and Write. Using CAS/RAS reduced the address wiring, and the refreshing was done as the display was generated from DataOut with another couple of pin generating Sync. It was quite neat, just an experiment, I got about 100x100 pixel resolution out of it. I stuck it on AVRfreaks or something.

I had an email from this guy who wanted to use it as his final year project for some US University, and he wanted me to convert it to NTSC *and* also, would I very kindly design a printed circuit board for it for him.....

Paul 76

Re: @Anonymous Curd

.... well it does depend on what C for what platform :) Which is probably what you wanted to hear :)

So this person with a first didn't realise there aren't any actual integers in Javascript ?

Paul 76

Re: Interesting...

Actually everyone should learn what you did :) Or something like it. I remember wiring up a CPU design (it was a bit like one of those 100-1 electronics things to build a CPU out of except you had to work it out yourself). No JVM, but then at that time no Java (we did Pascal, Lisp, BCPL, Prolog, COBOL, Assembler and some FP). I did a 1980s version of your course by the sound of it.

I remember booting a PDP/8 at one point from a paper tape reader, or something like that. Such experience is actually useful.

Why anyone uses JS is beyond me (except as a way of showing automation in web pages perhaps) because of its somewhat malleable syntax. The problem with Unity is you can do an awful lot without writing a single line of code. Examiners do not appear to know this (or that if you produce a form in VS it isn't actually that hard ......)

Paul 76

An absolutely true story. I am, or was a teacher, and took part on a discussion board like this for teachers of ICT/Comp Sci.

There was a few years ago an A2 (formerly A-Level) project where you had to produce something a blind auction system for houses in a new estate in Tewkesbury in Access (yes, I know !). This had been given to teachers to prepare the pupils , but without them knowing the actual task.

(as an aside, the amount of utterly irrelevant green propaganda in the specification was amazing - about half of it. I know because I went through it and removed anything that wasn't actually part of the problem. Some of the problem was very poorly specified as well.

This had one problem. As far as I could see none of the teachers could do it. Muggins here produced two sample solutions with different algorithms (basically it required Select the first n database rows matching this query which is non trivial in Access, and I found a way of doing it which was different), It was given out, but only to someone who could identify themselves as a teacher. It was very popular.

I got absolutely deluged with requests for advice from pupils many of who clearly had both the complete task and the database itself - this is supposed to be done in exam conditions (a bit like old physics and chemistry practicals) , I'd left my email address in. From all over the place.

If there was a 'distribution hub' for it in something like Student Room, I couldn't find it. Even if they had got a bootleg copy of my Access DB from somewhere they still shouldn't have got the rest of it.

Paul 76

Re: Interesting...

Oh yes. I go back to the early days of Windows (3.0 16 bit) and you just couldn't banjax around with resources and so on. If you did it died.

I wonder how much damage garbage collection and the like does. I saw too much of the "oh, it's okay, they can buy more RAM mentality". I remember one project I was given to fix (something very much like the old Windows Program Manager) where the entire data structure that made up the display was replicated, twice.

'Cos I'm really really old I started on a trainer board with a hex keypad. IMO this, or something like it (maybe programming PIC16C84 in assembler ?) should be mandatory. It is not fully hitting the metal but it is very close to it ; you are operating at component control level. When I went to University we did some programming linking DEC10 assembler to BCPL ; not a lot, but enough. Why do I suspect most graduates have never heard of either or done the modern equivalent ? How much of it is Windows Forms drag and drop ?

Then you realise it actually does matter if you reserve bucket loads of memory and just chuck it away repeatedly (often).

Paul 76

Re: He said the F word

Must've changed a lot then since I employed an economic migrant from Jamaica. Fill a few forms in, some sort of evidence you've advertised the post, visa arrived a couple of weeks later.

Paul 76

Yes. I've just looked at two randomlyish chosen Computer Science courses (UEA and Nottingham Trent) and the content is not exactly impressive. I'd say it's about a year on average behind my degree (from the early 1980s) and UEA is I think one of our better universities.

Three other factors:

First, does this include just Computer Science, does it include things like Computer Games Programming degrees (my advice for anyone doing one of these ; don't ; learn to program generally and study maths). Does it include ICT (no-one cares much) ? Does it include "Digital Media" ? I seem often have to point out that HTML is *not* programming. It's a XML (ish) page description language. How much time is spent on waffly cr*p ?

Secondly, I don't think I exist any more (psychologists dream ....).

From about 1977-8 ish to the early 1990s there was a huge boom in coding skills learnt on everything from machine code trainers through to and ending with (pretty much) the Amiga and Atari ST. Lots of people bedroom coded. I don't think they do any more. Yes, a lot of it was fairly ropey BASIC ROM systems like the Spectrum and C64, but there was a huge skill base there that could be redirected into better practices fairly easily. I went to Essex on interview and the chap asked me if I wrote programs, I said I did, he said, what was the last thing you wrote , I said it was a Pascal compiler (in BASIC !) and we then had a discussion about the how I'd done it. Perhaps that's a bit extreme, but I'd be impressed if someone actually wrote something almost properly (e.g. not clicking on wizards, or semi automated drag and drop). The older machines also had the advantage that it was easier to hit the metal, you knew how things actually worked.

Third. My son is 18 and is doing a BTEC Level 3 IT course, which the college he is attending has made as computer-science-ish as possible.

Several things to note. Firstly my son (almost) always does the work himself (he occasionally asks me for advice), hands it in on time, and tries to do it to the best of his ability (usually very well). He doesn't seem to be that common. Many do not. They are often hand-held walked through it if they don't hand stuff in ; I've seen lecturers sit down with students on a "do this" "now do this" "now click this" basis ; this attitude is common in schools (and universities in many cases I'm told). The reason for this is staff are set pass rate targets. Or they hand in something half done and its sent back with large detail on how to make it "right".

The actual content isn't as impressive as it looks on paper. A lot of the students (as A/C says) aren't up to it, so it becomes a fill in the blanks job. It will say something like "create a stock control system" but nothing that you or I would recognise as such.

For example my son was given about 20-30 lines of Javascript to type in to do some HTML page validation, but there was little actual explanation of what it was - I went through it with him so he actually understood what he was doing, rather than just typed it in.

This is known (I think) as scaffolding in education, rather than have a question like "Describe the different fate of Henry VIII wives" and having to write a 30 minute essay off the top of your head, you get a fill in the blanks, which a monkey could do. Each part is preceded by an instruction which basically tells students what to write. So what comes out is a series of identical (nearly) essays all which have the prescribed content.

This sort of thing can be applied to Computing (it also applies to Maths) so you are actually hand walked through the production of something that gets the marks.

The problem is that you can't actually do it independently. So A/C get someone with all the paperwork, then gives him some easy starter work and there's no guidelines, he's got to work it out for himself (they're mostly he's), and they can't.

Florida man sues Apple for $10bn, claims iPod, iPhone was his idea

Paul 76

There's a patent in the database (4,279,421) which is a touch based electronic gameboard. It looks exactly like an iPad type device except its square not rectangular. Yes, it has round corners.

Oddly it is actually buildable with the tech of the time, I think (1979), rather than an LCD graphic display it uses an 8x8 array of 7 segment displays, and its powered by an RCA1802.

It is an iPad in practice - in the same way that a ZX80 and a modern PC are both computers - very primitive .... but the same idea.

Girls outpace boys in US IT and engineering test

Paul 76

Looks like another fiddle.

Reminds me of the "Female Computer Programmers are better" which was done based on Github push levels ... I mean *obviously* that's how you test programming skills !

I wonder what the actual questions are. Things like "communication and collaboration" make me wonder if this isn't more IT waffly cr*p than actual STEM skills, you know, like *techie* stuff, not talking nicely to people.

It was seriously suggested to me that Art be introduced into STEM as a way of balancing the genders ....

Five reasons why the Google tax deal is imploding

Paul 76

Someone seriously thinks ITVs advertising business and Googles are comparable ?

Google UK coughs up £130m back taxes. Is it enough?

Paul 76

Re: it's a start

If they used profits to buy businesses they wouldn't pay tax on it.

Child abuse image hash list shared with major web firms

Paul 76

Re: I may be being stupid here but .....

Yes, I saw a post about that after I'd posted.

Problem is, the stuff they are trying to stop is not an issue of recognition, it is an issue of distribution.

What they want is to stop the stuff being stored on ftp servers and so on, right ?

So how does a "Photo DNA" algorithm cope if the thing is not actually a photo. Suppose the raw bytes in the file are swapped according to some key sequence and that key sequence is distributed seperately ?

Anything based on pictorial recognition will not work if the thing is not a photo, surely ?

Paul 76

I may be being stupid here but .....

Suppose I actually wanted to distribute this stuff (I don't !)

All you'd have to do would be to write a script that changed one pixel on the image (depends on compression), resized it, changed an irrelevant byte in the internal format or just about anything. You could probably convert a PNG to a JPG and back again and you wouldn't get the same file because of lossy compression. Or I could zip the file. Or I could add an extra 256 bytes to the end of the file filled with random values, which another program could strip off.

Am I wrong here ?

Apple's Watch charging pad proves Cupertino still screwing buyers

Paul 76

and in other news ....

Pigs can't fly, and trout don't live in trees.


Apple 1 goes on sale, expected to fetch £300,000 to £500,000

Paul 76

Some investment ! Beanie Babes mentality.

The odd thing is, it's not *that* rare. 50 machines is quite a few when you are looking at 900k.

I doubt it works either "incorrectly inserting a chip" sounds like someone's tried to repair it and stuffed it up. Someone who doesn't know what they are doing as well .....

Facebook's UK wing paid just £4k in corporation tax last year

Paul 76


Dividends are after tax.

Payment to staff is before tax.

If a company has a working profit of £1m but reduces that to zero by dividing it all up between employees, the no CT is paid (no profit) but IncomeTax and NI are paid on the money, which is more than the current CT rate.

And, no, you can't just "move it offshore"

Zoinks! Is that Mystery Machine Apple's SELF-DRIVING FAMILY WAGON? You decide

Paul 76

Re: The Apple iCar

"Well,, here's a funny thing. I have as yet to find any problems hooking up an iThing to anything using Open Standards"

what about the standards for USB storage ? Does that work yet ?

Paul 76

Oh, yes great idea.

"Need to turn left. Log in with your Apple ID"


"Your motor car provision key is invalidated because we feel like it. Need to turn left"


"Your Apple ID must consist of at least 417 upper and lower case letters, 38 numbers and 42 cyrillic characters and 5 randomly chosen pictures. Change it now. Need to turn left"


"Unfortunately we have detected the use of non-Apple Petrol (TM) in your Apple car. Even though we ignored it for the last three months. For your protection and safety we are going to disable the airbag and seatbelts. Please empty your tank of inferior petrol and replace with Apple Petrol (superior quality at ten times the price). Need to turn left".


"Need to Download iCar v 8.0.13. Unfortunately this will take three days as Apple's developers haven't managed to build restartable downloads yet. Version 8.0.13 has a tiny bug which stops the car from turning left, but you cannot reinstall 8.0.12. Need to turn left".


"Apple have for your safety and security replaced the standard brake system with their new improved iBrake system, where unfortunately the brake cables fall off the connector after five minutes use because it's not designed properly. Please proceeed without brakes. Need to turn left"


Microsoft tells big biz: No free Windows 10 for you, crack wallets open

Paul 76

Well, I think it's obvious who will pay, we are. Microsoft want a rerun of Office 365. So the 'free' version will be limited in many ways, and the full one will be subscription.

MS want a subscription model because there are plenty of people quite happy with 2000,XP,Vista,7,8 as it is and they get no money from it (mostly it costs them money). So get everyone (as far as possible) onto 10 by making it 'free' then manipulate people into paying for it.

International Cricket 2010

Paul 76

Not quite yet.

"These elements, carried over from Ashes 2009, provide a precise system that replicates the almost infinitesimal variations required to outfox batsmen."

No, they don't. It's a good game, but it still hasn't fixed the basic problem of Computer Cricket which is the player bowling to a computer batsman.

Even if it can provide such a system, and it's not far off, I agree, what is missing is the sequence of events AI between the bowler and batsman. Even with quick bowling it is not simply an issue of trying to bowl the best delivery possible ; it is the sequence that undoes the batsman - knowing when to bowl a googly because the batsman has been "trained" not to expect it, for example. Things like the sixth sense a spin bowler gets that a batsman is going to charge him are also missing. Is it the right time to bowl a slower ball or is he picking it ? All these kind of things without which it just doesn't work.

To be fair, these things are just about impossible to simulate. What cricket games do is work out an appropriate shot for the given delivery and scale the success of that delivery by the batsman's ability and confidence. That's why in some games the batsman can always be got out playing the same delivery to the same shot ; not only does the batsman never learn, but the rest of his team don't either, because they don't think.

What this means in practice in that bowling at a computer batsman is quite a dull experience. Ashes 2009 hasn't solved this and I doubt the 2010 version will either. No-one else has.

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