* Posts by Herbert Meyer

175 posts • joined 31 May 2007

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Twilight of the sundials: Archaic timepiece dying out and millennials are to blame, reckons boffin

Herbert Meyer
Coat

no such thing as an analog watch.

since all MECHANICAL clocks and watches use an escapement, they are essentially digital, counting ticks. Analog clocks would be water clocks or high precision candles. Or a sundial. I do not think any of them are suitable for wearing on the wrist or carrying in the pocket.

They say software will eat the world. Here are some software bugs that took a stab at it

Herbert Meyer

Software kills

Last month, 132 people died because the autopilot on a Boeing aircraft overrode the pilot, trying to prevent the plane from stalling. The plane was not stalling, the pilot and copilot died trying to disengage the autopilot, and take control of the aircraft. Boeing has blamed the crew for not reading a tech bulletin about this software feature.

Anyone who thinks they are "flying" a modern airplane is fooling themselves, they are merely making suggestions to the control system. Soon, automobiles will be the same.

Sysadmin’s plan to manage system config changes backfires spectacularly

Herbert Meyer

Re: Why use a revision control system?

Useful things like diff are available. Even (when there are multiple administrators) who made the changes in question.

Linux has a system called etckeeper that puts /etc under git version control. With some additional hooks that understand the dnf/apt upgrade process. Often dnf/apt is what broke it, not me.

Oracle, for one, says we'll welcome our new robot overlords: '90%' of you will obey an AI bot

Herbert Meyer

Since any Oracle employee...

Has been following orders from Larry Ellison, they are used to being lead by an arrogant authoritarian psychopath. Not much different than an evil AI.

Latest from the coming AI robot apocalypse: we're going to be fine

Herbert Meyer

IT"S A COOKBOOK !

"An artificial intelligence machine won't want to become a person," argued Reza Zadeh, the CEO of Matroid. "It will be content to serve customers."

*Thunk* No worries, the UPS should spin up. Oh cool, it's in bypass mode

Herbert Meyer

In the old bank, in the vault

I was a customer of a bank in suburban Chicago, and I went into the bank, a new building with lots of glass, and found the power was off, and the tellers were using pen and paper and calculators to process transactions.

I went home, called my mother in law, who had just retired from the bank, and asked her why they did not have a UPS. She said they did, a large diesel, that was in a crate in the vault in the old bank building. It was too large to move through the basement hallway into its planned location. It fit the elevator and the UPS room.

They later excavated a hole in the parking lot, cut the foundation wall, and put it in sideways.

Vatican sets up dedicated exorcism training course

Herbert Meyer
Angel

Professional not required

The Anglicans publish the Exorcism Rite in the Book of Common Prayer, to encourage Do-it-yourselfers.

A print button? Mmkay. Let's explore WHY you need me to add that

Herbert Meyer
Stop

I did not miss it

I have been using the Atom editor for several months before I wanted to print something, then I found out there was no Print... anywhere in the thing. After a bit of head scratching, I figured out I could export the code to Html, all pretty printed, and print the html with der bruiser.

Having actually written software that had to print, I can see the virtue in this. GUI means taking the whatever, rasterizing it, drawing it in a device context (yes, it was windows), and then handing that DC to the printer, hooking into the standard printer dialogs, wiring up a callback to cancel printing, and vast amounts of other fiddly code. Avoiding it would have saved months, and lotsa grief from customers with weird printers.

We are 40 years into the Paperless Office. About damn time to chop off the vestigial printers. And with the printers go the shredders and scanners and faxes and record storage boxes. Pile them up behind the building, pour kerosene on it, apply a match.

Kentucky gov: Violent video games, not guns, to blame for Florida school massacre

Herbert Meyer
Angel

the answer

Eventually Miss Mercer or DeVos or one of the other droids will say that the way to prevent School Shootings is Home Schooling. You should not herd children together into Public School Target Zones, but keep them safe at home. Presumably a well armed, Christian home.

Don't panic... but our fragile world is drifting away from the Sun

Herbert Meyer
Boffin

Mr. Einstein and Gravitational Radiation

Excuse me, did not a fella with a weird non-haircut say that two masses in orbit about each other were accelerating, and would therefore radiate gravitational waves, releasing energy ? How would that change the orbit ?

Boffins use inkjets to print explosives

Herbert Meyer
Mushroom

instead of a Suicide Vest

They will have a Suicide Tee Shirt. With graphics.

Skynet it ain't: Deep learning will not evolve into true AI, says boffin

Herbert Meyer
Boffin

old result

Minsky and Papert wrote a book about this, a long time ago:

https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=PLQ5DwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=Minsky+and+S.+Papert.+Perceptrons&ots=zyDCuJuq23&sig=g6U9pngheQkbaRqqFiyPRgWbtBA#v=onepage&q=Minsky%20and%20S.%20Papert.%20Perceptrons&f=false

Nobody read or understood it then.

Disk drive fired 'Frisbees of death' across data centre after storage admin crossed his wires

Herbert Meyer

Poor service guy

We had a CadCam system that ran on a Nova6 mini, with some IBM 3350 removable disk packs, similar to this story. An air conditioner service guy was checking for refrigerant leaks with a bottle of soapy water in a squeeze bottle, which would produce bubbles when applied to a leaky refrigerant line.

He left the bottle sitting on top of a convenient washing machine size disk box, without knowing the box quivered when the disks seeked. A few minutes later, the bottle fell over, spilling on the removable cover, and dripping into the disk mechanism. A few minutes after that the CadCam crashed, with disk errors.

Unbelievably, removing the disk pack, drying out the mechanism, and replacing with a recent backup disk pack worked.

Stick to the script, kiddies: Some dos and don'ts for the workplace

Herbert Meyer

read old warnings, change word

Re-read all your old warnings about macros, change the word "macro" to "script".

More than half of GitHub is duplicate code, researchers find

Herbert Meyer
Flame

creativity ?

All these yoofs got through school by copying each other's work. Continues into their "work". I refuse to refer to them as "adults",

Why being 'boring' is a university AI spinout's route to success

Herbert Meyer
Coat

Stamp Collector's fallacy

If I get one more good piece, this pile of dross will be worth something.

This article has been deleted

Herbert Meyer

starbucks

Used to have tits on the mermaid on their logo. The coffee business never recovered.

Boffin rediscovers 1960s attempt to write fiction with computers

Herbert Meyer

Re: there is a science fiction story about this ...

That sounds like it. I have not been able to find a copy of the text. Roald Dahl, huh ? Respectable, not at all a hack.

Herbert Meyer

there is a science fiction story about this ...

Which I will find sometime later. Back from the '50s or '60s.

Basic thesis is that genre fiction is stereotyped, and selecting among the variations will generate something as good as the hack writers output, at lower cost. Consequence is starving writers with starving families.

Forget trigonometry, 'cos Babylonians did it better 3,700 years ago – by counting in base 60!

Herbert Meyer

Re: Pesky base 60 trigonometry is not Babylonian?

No, they remembered the divisor table. 60 was chosen because it has lotsa useful divisors - 2,3,4,5,6,10,12,15,20,30.

Herbert Meyer
Boffin

everybody knows

The proper way to measure angles is in radians, not degrees. Since any measure is an approximation, "exact" divisors are a fiction. So an irrational measure is appropriate. Besides, any use in mechanics is going to involve a moment, so the pi factor will appear quickly.

Confessions of an ebook eater

Herbert Meyer

Re: O'Really ?

True C did not get complex. It lives in a simple world of PDP's and 3B's, Ascii mini's. This world was a much simpler place. It was temporarily reborn with the 8-bit IBM PC.

Then MicroSoft produced their alleged "C" compiler. I know, for a fact, that anything written with this abomination will fail next year, when the C epoch overflows to leftmost bit. The product of this abomination will think that time has become negative, with unpredictable results.

I know, that is not the compiler's fault, but the library that MS copied from somewhere or the other.

I plan on being dead in 2038 when the C epoch overflows completely. If anybody defrosts me to fix old code, I will claim brain damage.

Herbert Meyer
Happy

O'Really ?

I have, in the basement, a bookcase full of O'Reilly titles, with the aminals on de cover. I am waiting for them to become valuable collectables to Millennial geeks. They strike me as suckers, who will buy anything.

The Manning MEEP I am waiting for is Learn Haskell. It has been retitled before completion, but I am still hoping it will reveal the Secret Meaning of Monad. I was working thru the prelim PDF, but I had to back up to chapter 4 when I forgot what currying was.

Actually, books are good. I taught myself "C" from the White Book, as did all the true C programmers. It was a very rare book that was written as a reference, but somehow also served as a teaching tool.

'Help! I'm stuck in this ATM,' writes poor bloke on a scribbled note

Herbert Meyer

Re: Damn!

Classic science fiction:

https://gutenberg.ca/ebooks/kornbluthcm-msfoundinfortunecookie/kornbluthcm-msfoundinfortunecookie-00-h.html

O Rly? O'Reilly exits direct book sales

Herbert Meyer

bookcase in the basement

I have a bookcase in the basement full of O'Reilly. Perhaps the used dead tree business will become profitable. I will consult the underware Gnomes.

HMS Windows XP: Britain's newest warship running Swiss Cheese OS

Herbert Meyer
Coat

Brings new meaning...

...To the Blue Screen of Death.

At the feet of the Great Monad, or, How the functional programming craze plays out

Herbert Meyer

it's a monad

That's why I/O is a monad. As well as everything else inconvenient.

Herbert Meyer
Boffin

Re: Been there, done that

No, that is why you punch sequence numbers in columns 73-80 of the cards. The sequence numbers should increment by 10, to allow insertions between lines without re-sequencing.

If you look hard enough in the back of the computer room, there is an old electromechanical sorter, with 10 output bins, and you know how to program it (by wiring a punchboard) to perform a radix sort, most significant column first.

And if you are an honor student, you can write a simple program for the computer to punch the numbers for you. If you are a total genius, you can program the 029 keypunch to do it.

As Trump signs away Americans' digital privacy, it's time to bring out the BS detector

Herbert Meyer

make up a "Bullshit" rubber stamp

Apply it to anything out of TrumpLand.

Toshiba's nuclear power plant business runs out of steam

Herbert Meyer

Nope, it's at Pantex

The Pantex bunkers near Amarillo are full of old Plutonium pits, removed from retired and obsolete weapons. Now, Tritium is another matter.

FBI let alleged pedo walk free rather than explain how they snared him

Herbert Meyer
Headmaster

depends on which side of the Atlantic

In the US, it is usually pedo. This is a US case.

Don't panic, but a 'computer error' cut the brakes on a San Francisco bus this week

Herbert Meyer

Re: Whaaat?

Trolley buses, in common with electric rail cars, only use overhead or third rail power for the traction motors. The general power for systems is supplied by batteries, charged by wheel generators that only work when the vehicle is moving. So a completely flat battery is a big deal. The car must be towed or pushed (or jumped, a very dangerous operation) to recharge batteries enough to power systems up.

Zilog reveals very, very distant heir to the Z80 empire

Herbert Meyer
Headmaster

z80 and ti83

The archaic, obsolete and expensive TI83 your American High School student child is required to buy (and loose, 3 weeks later) is powered by a Z80.

The student is required to buy this clunk because it is approved for use on the SAT exam. Any more advanced calculator can be used to cheat on the exam, by storing answers, or communicating with the net or confederates.

The TI83 can, of course, be used to cheat, but requires a higher level of skill. Anyone able to cheat with it would score well on the test without it.

FBI won't jail future US president over private email server

Herbert Meyer
Flame

burn the witch !

Burn the witch Hillary ! We have years of this to look forward to.

Kremlin wants to shoot the Messenger, and WhatsApp to boot

Herbert Meyer

Trojan horse

If this is going to work, only Russian made hardware and software will be allowed in Russia. So this is also a Trojan Horse for Industrial Protectionism

Workers rejoice! Marx’s vision will become reality, argues SAP veep

Herbert Meyer

Londoners report ?

Have any of you Londoners noticed a rumbling from Marx's grave ?

Modular phone Ara to finally launch

Herbert Meyer
Facepalm

Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny

I remember the PC with the "open" ISA bus architecture.

Wasps force two passenger jets into emergency landings

Herbert Meyer
Coat

Re: Fly by wire ?

I am sure the Horsedrawn airplanes were much more reliable.

Herbert Meyer
FAIL

plastic streamer

I hope there is a plastic streamer attached to the plastic cap over the pitot tube, that can be seen from the cockpit window, to ensure no plane tries to take off without removing the cap.

FCC urged to pause its fight against America's $20bn cable-box rip-off

Herbert Meyer
WTF?

"harm small pay-TV providers"

There are no small pay-TV providers.

What do you call an old, unpatched and easily hacked PC? An ATM

Herbert Meyer

through the wall

My bank has replaced free standing ATM with through-the-wall ATM because thieves with backhoes were demolishing the boxes around them, and craning the ATM onto a trailer and away for leisurely looting. Much less sophisticated than hacking.

Now, they are stalling on EMV cards, because they will have to replace the ATM again, or replace and upgrade the card readers.

Aussie boffin turns up REAL root-rat

Herbert Meyer
Holmes

The Giant Rat of Sumatra !

Is REAL ! Conan Doyle was right !

Peak Cable looms: One in five US homes now mobile-only for internet

Herbert Meyer
Alert

Lucky me !

I am lucky enough to live in an area with an independent broadband provider, I have a 5 gHz wifi antenna on my roof, pointed at a local water tower. I still have cable for TV, but have cut my bill in half by unbundling internet and phone service.

The cable company has responded by increasing basic cable rates. Good move fellas, that will make your remaining customers real happy.

A Logic Named Joe: The 1946 sci-fi short that nailed modern tech

Herbert Meyer

Look at Henry Kuttner

While you are going through the back issues, find the old Henry Kuttner ( you know, CL Moore's husband ) for a story about the Twonky, Or maybe the old film of it, starring Hans Conreid. The film was about a TV, but the story was not quite specific about the nature of the Twonky machine.

Randomness is a lottery, so why not use a lottery for randomness?

Herbert Meyer

Re: It's all nonsense!!!

You could become rich by selling the spreadsheet to the bigger suckers out there.

Louisville says yes to Google Fiber. Funny story: AT&T, TWC didn't want that to happen

Herbert Meyer

details, details

Unfortunately Louisville / Jefferson county does not have regulatory authority over utility poles, a state board does. So Gov. Bevin gets a chance to extort TWC and AT&T for bribes to block this. He has already killed a Ky Broadband initiative.

You need an Icon for a politician with his hand out for "Campaign Contributions".

'Unikernels will send us back to the DOS era' – DTrace guru Bryan Cantrill speaks out

Herbert Meyer

Re: "Operating systems these days..."

"DOS was a retrograde step that should have been strangled as soon as the 80286 became the dominant processor, "

There was an attempt to do so. It was called OS/2.

Did you every try to write segmented code in assembler for Intel 8086/80186/80286 ? Oh, the horror.

Progress had to wait for 80386, with a big, flat memory model.

Learn you Func Prog on five minute quick!

Herbert Meyer
Pint

laughing too hard

I was laughing so hard my eyes teared up, and I saw "fictional languages such as Haskell".

When I recover, I will meditate upon Functional Programming in Fortran. Then I will get really drunk, and try to forget it.

What did we learn today? Microsoft has patented the slider bar

Herbert Meyer

Re: People still use Microsoft products?

People still use Corel products ?

Europe didn't catch the pox from Christopher Columbus – scientists

Herbert Meyer

Re: Unpleasant

And potatoes, adding chips to the obesity cocktail (don't forget the vodka) .

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