* Posts by Primus Secundus Tertius

1135 posts • joined 31 Oct 2010


The record shows I took the blows, and did it... Huawei: IT titan will start tackling GCHQ security gripes from June

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What does Russia do?

Do the Russians buy Huawei kit?

WWW = Woeful, er, winternet wendering? CERN browser rebuilt after 30 years barely recognizes modern web

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Re: Not by hand

"...never been infected..."

nbsp is something I replace during html editing -- I do use the 'edit html' screen as well as the WYSIWYG screen. I get a lot of nbsp in html articles saved from the web; some are introduced when the author has been correcting typos, some seem to be put in especially in documents created on Apple machines, and others seem to be house style policies.

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Re: Not by hand

"... and you've probably not heard of ..."

I am well aware of those things. You, perhaps, are unfamiliar with themes and styles in MS Word.

Also, perhaps, unfamiliar with the proverb: "The best is enemy of the good". MS Word and Libre Office Word can produce structured documents of office quality. If I want kerning and ligatures I will use Lyx or a 60-day trial I have of Quark Express.

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Not by hand

I never did agree with formatting things by hand, starting with Digital Standard Runoff on VAX computers. Almost any word processor is preferable to Tex/Latex. I use a WYSIWYG html editor for creating and cleaning up documents: it removes multiple spaces, makes multiple newlines easy to remove, and supports body text, headings, lists, and tables. It produces what I call "simple html".

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Re: No https for you

The Telegraph and many other websites use single-sentence paragraphs, a usage condemned by my schoolmasters in the late 1950s. The BBC remain fixated on visual content: they would rather bore you with a five-minute audio-video than give you text you could read in a few seconds. The only site I use regularly that writes proper paragraphs is the Spectator.

LibreOffice 6.2 is here: Running up a Tab at the NotebookBar? You can turn it all off if you want

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The real absurdity is when the Latex enthusiasts claim you can "just write". Oh no you can't, not when you have to remember the markup for paragraphs, headers, and lists. And tables are hell! The nearest I have come to "just write" is Microsoft One Note, where even tables are a doddle.

I refer to the original desktop One Note, not to the cloudy abortion MS is trying to impose on us.

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Re: I've used LibreOffice for years.

Nowadays there are front-end packages for Latex which make it less worse than it was. But I still defy anyone to turn a spreadsheet of names and addresses into a set of address labels using Latex.

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Re: Last-decade ?

I thought the limestone was removed by what is euphemistically called the redistribution industry, during the various periods of chaos between stable dynasties.

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Re: Font problems

Postscript to my original post.

I reimaged a clean Windows7 and installed a clean Libre Office 6.2. The fonts are now well-behaved.

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Font problems

I have just installed 6.2 as an upgrade to 6.1 on a Windows system.

All the variations of the Liberation fonts (mono, sans, serif) looked like mono. Same with the Deja Vu fonts. The Microsoft fonts (Times, Arial, etc.) were OK.

It looks like a typical problem with free software: more enthusiasm than accuracy.

Yay, we got a B for maths. Literally, a bee: Little nosy nectar nerds smart enough to add, abstract numbers

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Re: Aimless musing - Chicken or Egg?

I accept that other animals can recognise 1, 2, 3, etc. when looking at specific sets of objects. What may be unique to homo sap is to associate the symbol 1, 2, etc with a number of objects. This is analogous to the way that words are abstract and their sound is not related to what they mean.

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Geometry too

They also construct regular hexagons, apparently without a ruler and compasses.

Original WWII German message decrypts to go on display at National Museum of Computing

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Paper tape memory

What I noticed about the Bombe and about Colossus when I visited was their use of loops of paper tape as fixed memory. So they made the tape go jolly fast. By the time I entered the computer industry tapes were slowing down, the speed no longer so important.

LibreOffice patches malicious code-execution bug, Apache OpenOffice – wait for it, wait for it – doesn't

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Re: Tried Libre about 3 weeks ago....

Libre Office is fine if you are working alone; and simple letters and essays can be exchanged with the Rest of the World.

But try that with complicated documents, containing tables, lists, footnotes, pictures, drop caps, page numbers, sections in two-column format, various fonts, an index and a table of contents -- and one or more minor details will be wrong. For one document, you can fix it; but for a dozen documents a day it is too much. These tend to be important documents with a life of many years, shared by many people.

If Libre Office ruled the world, it would be a Microsoft problem of course.

Ca-caw-caw: Pigeon poops on tot's face as tempers fray at siege of Lincoln flats

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Re: All the usual ooptions


Start singing:

I knew an old lady who swallowed a fly

I don't know why she swallowed a fly.

I knew an old lady who swallowed a spider

That wriggled and wriggled and tickled inside 'er

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly…

I knew an old lady who swallowed a bird

How absurd, to swallow a bird

She swallowed the bird to catch the spider…

I knew an old lady who swallowed a cat

Well fancy that, she swallowed a cat…

I knew an old lady who swallowed a dog

What a hog, to swallow a dog…

I knew an old lady who swallowed a horse

How very coarse, to swallow a horse…

I knew an old lady who swallowed a cow

I don't know how she swallowed a cow…

While US fires criminal charges at Huawei, UK tells legislators not to worry, everything's fine

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Re: Who's afraid of the big bad dragon

Trump's camps? People don't have to walk from Mexico to Trumpcamp. the Chinese camps are a different matter: people are taken there.

How many people walk into China?

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I hope our "unparalelled arrangements" include the novel idea of techies actually looking for bugs/features in Huawei code. This would be so different from ordinary "quality assurance" checks that meetings have been minuted, actions acted upon, paperwork properly filed, etc.

Oof, are you sure? Facing $9bn damages, Google asks Supreme Court to hear Java spat

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Re: Root for?

When lawyers are being paid, they put their feelings to one side. That is called professionalism.

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Worthless lawsuits

In English law there is or was a doctrine that litigants should come to court with "clean hands": in truth, honesty, and with a genuine case.

This argument is just big boys arguing about money.

I can hear the light! Boffins beam audio into ears with freakin' lasers

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Surely some mistake

16MHz as an electromagnetic wave would have a wavelength of about 19 metres, not 1.9 microns.

DNAaaahahaha: Twins' 23andMe, Ancestry, etc genetic tests vary wildly, surprising no one

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Re: Fascinating

Somebody once thought my sister's husband and I were brothers. I attribute that to my sister's good sense!

The Large Hadron Collider is small beer. Give us billions more for bigger kit, say boffins

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Re: Size vs position?

It has to be a large ring.

It is not possible to accelerate uncharged particles, such as neutrons. When you accelerate charged particles (or decelerate, as in X-ray machines), energy is radiated away. Circular motion means sideways acceleration, same thing.

So it has to be a large ring, i.e. small curvature.

*taps on glass* Hellooo, IRS? Anyone in? Anyone guarding taxpayers' data from crooks? Hellooo?

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Governing America

When it seems Americans cannot govern themselves, perhaps it is time authority was returned to London.

Microsoft vows to destroy Office, er, offices: Campus to be demolished and rebuilt

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A Grand Job

As I understood it from El Reg and elsewhere, Microsoft actually did dig out and replace a lot of the Windows code between XP and Windows 7.

Seriously, though, they are doing a grand job!

(That was the week that was, BBC satire, 1963.)

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

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Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

That was until the V1s were booby-trapped to explode and take out the offending plane.

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Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

When I have chatted to people from police-state regimes, they tell me they can spot most of the secret police. Probably not all of them, though.

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Re: Won't someone think of the great, great, great grandchildren.

Probably the most rampant capitalist economy today is Red China, consuming most of the world's coal in its power stations. But that would not suit the dreamy lefty eco-narrative.

Mark Zuckerberg did everything in his power to avoid Facebook becoming the next MySpace – but forgot one crucial detail…

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Is this libel?

For an article published in England, this is strong stuff legally. Is it an implicit challenge to Facebook to sue El Reg.

But I suspect Facebook just don't care.

Godmother of word processing Evelyn Berezin dies at 93

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Re: Love at first sight

My first approach to word processing was using the EDT program from Digital Equipment Corp, first on 16-bit PDP-11 computers running RSX11M, and then on 32-bit VAX machines. EDT was able to re-flow a paragraph of text, and do cut and paste, so a document could be tweaked until it was right. I would then print it on a lineprinter, and copy-type the text on a regular typewriter. With the VAX machine came laser printers, and then a diktat from an old-fashioned boss that we were to use typists for documents, not laser printers.

After that I bought an Amstrad Word Processor, a cheap device which sold so well IBM actually noticed. The Amstrad was designed to work very neatly with just the keyboard; I never felt the need for a mouse. Meanwhile at work I was still expected to use Digital Standard Runoff. I knew one small company that tried to get its secretary to use DSR, with predictably negative results.

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

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Quality of design

I saw many instances in my career where I thought the initial analysis was poorly done, and processes were not cleanly separated. This led to variables being corrupted in unexpected ways. Coding standards cannot correct for poor analysis.

All too often, so-called design documents were a restatement of requirements: they said what was wanted but did not show how to achieve that. For 1950s programmers transcribing mathematics into Fortran, the requirements were often enough; but, for example, a modern database meeting modern requirements needs much more thought. Even a simple members list of an organisation should be more than just getting correct postage labels: e.g. reports on how many by county or country, ...

Design reviews ought to emphasise these matters, but often they don't. Management often feels they obstruct the need to get on with the coding.

I spent my career wondering how to turn an engineering graduate into a good programmer, and never did find the answer.

For fax sake: NHS to be banned from buying archaic copy-flingers

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Fax software

"Yes, Mr Auditor guv, this is a computer, honest. Look at these super spreadsheets showing how much money we are saving. Fax, what fax, no fax around here, mate".

Mr Auditor moves on, operator hits start button to reveal fax icon.

Boffins build blazing battery bonfire

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Re: Photovoltaic?


I have to admit I did not properly understand the scheme until I read the paper cited in the article.

Molten silicon (the element, not the oxide aka silica or sand) is being pumped around by electromagnetic arrangements with no moving parts apart from the molten silicon. Its "low" temperature is 1,500C and its high temperature 2,900C. Radiation and "solar" cells are a plausible way of extracting energy from the high temperature phase, rather than traditional heat exchangers.

Years ago I worked on software for a nuclear power station. The CO2 reactor coolant then generated steam at 800C -- red heat -- and high pressure.

You're legit and you know you are... Thanks to chanting racist footie fans, linking to dodgy stuff isn't necessarily illegal (well, in Europe)

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Good English law

As ever, a journalist expresses his dislike of the English law of libel.

That law says in effect that if you claim something as fact you must in the last resort be prepared to prove it in court (to a civil standard, less demanding than a criminal standard).

If you make it clear that it is an opinion, it is necessary only that other people might share that opinion: it does not have to be factual, or politically correct.

What the law does forbid is reproducing rumour as fact. It also forbids printing something and than claiming that the source cannot be revealed. Both these bans remove a lot of worthless reporting and are worth having.

PS This is an opinion.

Tech support discovers users who buy the 'sh*ttest PCs known to Man' struggle with basics

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Re: Alternatively...


There was a famous law case in England.

The judge said to the barrister, "I have listened patiently to your long explanation, but I am none the wiser".

Barrister: "No, my lord. But much better informed."

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Re: I spent two years in tech support

Back in the 1970s I used a machine that had good old physical buttons on it. One was START, another was RUN. There were others too.

START? RUN? Where did one begin?

Awkward... Revealed Facebook emails show plans for data slurping, selling access to addicts' info, crafty PR spinning

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Re: Users should pay to use Facebook


Thank you for replying to my comment.

My career in the software industry showed me that people are generally willing to pay for hardware, but sorely begrudge paying for software. Your reply shows that FB will pay for hardware, but does not disprove my point about paying for software.

PS I do not use Facebook. Ghastly nonsense for American extroverts.

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Re: Users should pay to use Facebook


The reason the World Wide Web exists at all is that Berners-Lee made it available at no cost. Who now remembers the contemporary whatever-it-was (I've forgotten the name) that died after they tried to charge for it. There was an interface to it in Windows NT3.

Facebook, Google, and others are well aware of that history.

Edit: from another comment, I see that I was talking about Gopher.

Er, we have 670 staff to feed now: UK's ICO fines 100 firms that failed to pay data protection fee

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Re: Mafiosa


I was about to ask: should "…failed to pay data protection fee" read as "failed to pay protection money"?

Microsoft menaced with GDPR mega-fines in Europe for 'large scale and covert' gathering of people's info via Office

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Re: "If Office programs are well-structured code"

The history of Star Office -> Open Office -> Libre Office suggest that it is a mountain of quick fixes, with zero logical integrity. MSO will be the same.

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Re: "The Dutch authorities are working with the company to fix the situation"

@Sleep deprived

Munich, and other German places, tried that. The problem was that they had to exchange lots of documents every day with other German places still using Microsoft Office.

The word "compatible" has a special meaning in the computer industry: good enough for salesmen but not good enough for actual screen bashers.

So Libre Office will not be a practical choice until the vast majority are using it.

Douglas Adams was right, ish... Super-Earth world clocked orbiting 'nearby' Barnard's Star

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Re: What's the Gravity on it?


On Earth, the weight of a unit mass is GM/(R**2).

This becomes proportional to GM**(1/3).

The new exoplanet is described as 'rocky', with mass at 3.2*M. If its average density is similar to Earth, gravity at its surface will be greater by 1.47. But who cares about gravity if you live in an ocean?

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Re: Getting a proble there?


Well said.

Hitting a grain of dust at near light speed will be like an atomic warhead destroying the probe.

I have long thought the science fiction of cruising the galaxy in star ships is indeed fiction for just that reason.

Windows XP? Pfff! Parts of the Royal Navy are running Win ME

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Re: Keeping it that way

During WW2 my dad was a radar technician in the RN. He told us of one ship where, as soon as they had left port, people in his position were ordered to do normal sailor duties.

There are such people in the armed forces -- not too many of them, one hopes. "Man management with discipline" is the key phrase.

Dutch cops hope to cuff 'hundreds' of suspects after snatching server, snooping on 250,000+ encrypted chat texts

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Re: So

Correction: "Technically not yet guilty".

Web Foundation launches internet hippie manifesto: 'We've lost control of our data, it is being used against us'

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Same as TV

But did not the same thing happen to TV?

People should not be allowed to post fake news unless they are wearing a penguin suit.

UK.gov to roll out voter ID trials in 2019 local elections

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Re: Lack of a secret ballot is a greater problem

The polling number is on the back of the ballot paper. When the papers are being counted, they are kept face-up so the candidates and their agents lurking behind those doing the counting do not see the polling number. Traditionally the only time the polling number is reconnected to the voter ID is when there are court actions over the vote.

Postal votes are slightly different. As they are received in the days before the election, they are vetted by election staff and then put into a ballot box ready for counting. As a candidate myself, I have wondered what checks there are on that vetting. The candidates are not invited to oversee things for obvious reasons. Does the Electoral Commission do any overseeing here?

Nikola Tesla's greatest challenge: He could measure electricity but not stupidity

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Re: Anti-intellectual?

Some of us -- or me, at least -- suspect Mrs May was imposed on us as Conservative leader by the religious mafia. Same for the earlier man, Idiot Duncan Smith.

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Re: Anti-intellectual?

It has happened before. Religious nutters destroyed the School of Euclid and the Library of Alexandria. Here's hoping the books of Euclid will still be in use when all the religious books are forgotten.

I as a single man paying just about the maximum in British taxes feel that the education budget on STEM subjects is achieving nothing and is, unfortunately, a total waste of MY money.

However, I suspect it is a cunning plan by our invisible galactic overlords to prevent us from reaching a point where we might challenge them.

Which scientist should be on the new £50 note? El Reg weighs in – and you should vote, too

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Crystal clear

I nominate Lawrence Bragg, for his work in X-ray crystallography. It was that technique which elucidated the chemistry of the silicates, the rocks that make Earth's crust and mantle. See Wikipedia.

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Re: One problem with this

@Graeme L

As a child, I never saw one of the then-current black and white fivers. Then they were abolished, before photcopiers came to be. Give it time, and a £50 note will buy just one Mars bar - the chosen currency unit of that weekly rag The Economist.


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