* Posts by Primus Secundus Tertius

1079 posts • joined 31 Oct 2010

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Apache OpenOffice, the Schrodinger's app: No one knows if it's dead or alive, no one really wants to look inside

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: The only reason it is popular...

@Charlie Clark

Sometimes office software hits on something new and useful. For example, MS Word 2013 and later can read pdf files and save them as editable Word documents. Yes, I use that.

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Chinese Super Micro 'spy chip' story gets even more strange as everyone doubles down

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: The main problem...

I once applied for a science editor position at a weekly journal. Got nowhere, no interview, no nothing. Probably because I was a techie (now retired), not a journalist. I also have the honour of having been turned down by El Reg.

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Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: phoning home

The prime purpose of Stuxnet was not to phone home but to sabotage the industrial plant that it reached.

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Microsoft yanks the document-destroying Windows 10 October 2018 Update

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Re: @AC But that wouldn't bring three thousand million...

@ma1010

I know people who have defected to Apple for the same reasons.

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Re: "The guy who wrote the update"

In my career in the software industry I never saw QA get their hands dirty actually doing an independent code check. Their excuse was that their function is to ensure procedures have been followed. All known mistakes documented in triplicate, meetings minuted, actions acted upon, documents duly signed off.

Good paperwork is proof of a good product, is it not?

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Microsoft deletes deleterious file deletion bug from Windows 10 October 2018 Update

Primus Secundus Tertius
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files are for everyone

@Lee D

If I understand you correctly you are saying that each app should have its private file area. If I have misunderstood, apols.

I disagree about each app having its separate area. In MS Office, for example, there is one area for Outlook/your data, and another area for One Note/your data. Other commenters have also noted that documents may be needed by many different apps.

Like everyone else, my 'My Documents' gets filled with directories for Outlook, One Note, Data Sources, etc. My answer is to create 'My Documents\Ownfiles', and then various directories below that. It keeps things reasonably clean.

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Astroboffins may have found the first exomoon lurking beyond the Solar System

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: Habitability

The Miller experiment showed that a mixture of amino acids and other small organic molecules is readily formed. Since then these compounds have been observed in meteorites and interstellar dust.

The unanswered question is how do you get from such a mixture to DNA and proteins. Perhaps via RNA, but it is still a question of how do you get to RNA. The analogy is with how do you turn a pile of bricks, doors and windows into a house? Pushing the analogy further, did things start with a tent that then somehow turned into a house?

It has been suggested that clay played a part; or that a primitive "soup", very dilute, somehow reacted with hot rocks reached through cracks in the ocean floor. Neither of these options would be available on a gas giant planet.

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Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: Moons of the moons?

Big moons have little moons

That can be seen to orbit 'em

And little moons have lesser moons

And so ad infinitum.

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US government use of AI is shoddy and failing citizens – because no one knows how it works

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Naturally obscure

Nobody really knows how human intelligence works, either. There is a good case for not employing dodgy wetware.

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Office 2019 lumbers to the stage once more as Microsoft promises future releases

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Singular Note for MSFT

I have been using One Note since Office 2010 to create new documents, if I am not sure what the final shape of the document will be, and if it needs items of information to be drawn from various sources and held in a file that is easy to organise and navigate.

I was recently working on a Windows 10 machine with Office 2016. This had both the Windows One Note and the Office One Note. The Windows version is crippled in comparison with the Office version, particularly in exporting files in various formats.

I hope Microsoft will not axe the features of Office One Note.

What we really need is a Libre One Note, that MS will be unable to ignore.

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Whoa – oh no, Zoho: Domain name no-show deals CRM biz, 40m punters a crushing blow

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Small organisations

This domain loss also happened to a small charity I am involved with. No warning, one day there it was, gone! Most of my colleagues there are not computer people, and I do not want to be the computer slave of every organisation I join.

Most other businesses are used to the polite reminder, followed if necessary by the cough-up-in-seven-days letter.

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Couldn't give a fsck about patching? Well, that's your WordPress website pwned, then

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: Lack of maintance

@VinceH

Answer: the former.

Thanks for your comment, though.

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Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: Lack of maintance

I am involved with a small voluntary group which has a Wordpress website. Over the years, we either have nobody who wants to really run our website, or else an enthusiast who takes it in a direction not all of us agree with.

The site is with a hosting company. We hope they know what they are doing in relation to the problems this article reports.

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Leeds hospital launches campaign to 'axe the fax'

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Patient use

In her later years my mother was very deaf, and the telephone therefore useless (she could not even hear it ring). She was too old to adapt to computers, although as a young civil servant she had been the only one in the office who could operate the telex machine.

A fax machine worked brilliantly for her, to keep in touch with family, the doctor's surgery, and the social services.

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Re: Easy for internal

It is fairly certain that a fax has reached the destination machine. The feedback is instantaneous, whereas an email bounce can take days.

What is not so certain is where it goes after it has reached the far machine.

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Equifax IT staff had to rerun hackers' database queries to work out what was nicked – audit

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Re: Impressive consequences

Two possible reasons why it was not noticed.

1. It was noticed but managers and beancounters ignored it.

2. The original person responsible had moved on, and management were simply unaware of these things.

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The internet – not as great as we all thought it was going to be, eh?

Primus Secundus Tertius
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@Mark12

Let us calculate the standard deviation in percentage terms. A binomial distribution, p=0.75, q=0.25, n=2000, sigma=sqrt(p*q/n).

Result (approximate) sigma=0.01 or 1%.

So the reported change is significant.

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Dear America: Want secure elections? Stick to pen and paper for ballots, experts urge

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: Blue sky / Out of the box thinking...

In Britain, that is what the political parties do. They call it canvassing.

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I have stood for election to my local council in England, and was therefore one of those "party scrutineers" you mention. The people counting the ballot papers are a mixture of council officials and others such as bank tellers, used to sorting and counting slips of paper.

Those counting people are instructed to ignore useless and irrelevant interjections from the party scrutineers. The counting process is simple if just one councillor is to be elected, but becomes complicated in a large ward that elects two or three councillors.

Some ballot papers are queried. This ranges from the one that used ticks instead of crosses, to the one that just said "s*d off". A council official will gather representatives from all the parties to decide these cases. Where the voting intention is clear, it is usually granted. In the cases I saw, it would not have affected the result, but in a marginal seat there exists an escalation procedure.

I doubt that an electronic process could replace all that.

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AI biz borks US election spending data by using underpaid Amazon Mechanical Turks

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Random AI

Perhaps they should use this AI to randomly select members of congress/parliament/duma. It would save the voters a lot of bother, and the candidates a lot of election expenses.

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You want how much?! Israel opts not to renew its Office 365 vows

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Re: Libreoffice is free and just fine.

I had an interviewer ask me about the time I had been self-employed. The agency had changed the word "unemployed".

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Re: Libreoffice is free and just fine.

@big_D

"other business systems" includes OCR, in my experience. Maybe also voice "recognition" systems, I am not certain.

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UK getting ready to go it alone on Galileo

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@45RPM

There were many "think tank" types of reasons for joining "the greatest alliance in history". But ordinary English folk have always instinctively felt that there was something not quite right.

Compare that "greatest alliance" with the United States: its parliament is ineffective compared with Congress; and it is effectively run by EU civil servants rather than by elected politicians. Fifty years after it started in 1957 it needed a new constiution (just as the US is on number two). But all we got was more of the same.

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Primus Secundus Tertius
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The sextant does not give you the longitude.

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Re: UK has the resources

@Paul Shirley

It has been argued that the UK economy did not get into its stride after World War 2 until Keynesian economics was ditched in the late 1970s. Maybe that made more difference than joining the Common Market.

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Connected car data handover headache: There's no quick fix... and it's NOT just Land Rovers

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Re: Why?

Remote unlocking is very useful in a dark garage. It also switches on a few lights, so you can see things.

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'Oh sh..' – the moment an infosec bod realized he was tracking a cop car's movements by its leaky cellular gateway

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It should just work

For any other type of product, such as the police car itself, the customer expects it to just work.

It is time the computer industry stopped blaming the customer and made better products.

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Grubby, tortuous, full of malware and deceit: Just call it Lionel because the internet is MESSY

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Misguided Idealism

The Internet is a monument to misguided American idealism. The real world is very different from the sheltered world of universities. It shows what happens to a comfortable club when you let just anybody join.

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UK.gov to tech industry: Hands up who can help cut teachers' admin

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@AC

The Daily Telegraph reported on 7th August 2018 that Damian Hinds, Education Secretary, declared that replacing blackboards with interactive whiteboards had made no practical difference to education results and had been a waste of money.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2018/08/07/replacing-blackboards-interactive-whiteboards-waste-money-education/

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Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: Asks the tech industry

... the big accounting firms who see software as a way of churning out money.

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Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: Quick solution

Politicians have a legitimate interest in seeing a healthy education system as a part of a healthy nation state. Sometimes they do have to intervene: by the end of the 1970s it was clear that "progressive" schemes for teaching reading were "failing the nation" (to borrow an old slogan from the Labour Party).

One mistake has been to turn schools into social services. Another has been to ignore the statistics: only about 1/6 of children are genuinely bright, and a corresponding 1/6 will always be seriously below average. But I suspect none of the arts graduates in the Department for Education understand what a standard deviation is.

It is absurd to ask the techies to resolve the problems that are caused by bad policies.

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Click this link and you can get The Register banned in China

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Re: Who needs Zorro?

I congratulate el Reg for publishing this article. Sir Humphrey Appleby would have called it a courageous decision.

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Boffins build a NAZI AI – wait, let's check that... OK, it's a grammar nazi

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: Am I missing something ?

I find it worth seeking Word's opinion of my writing. I am a poor typist and it does spot a lot of typos.

You can tell it to use British spelling or even more exotic spellings, but its 'grammar' check seems to reflect what is fashionable in California.

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Re: The problem

@Spanners

There are some 300 million Americans and 60 million British. So for obvious commercial reasons the American version will be developed first.

At a seminar a questioner asked about American attitudes to British English. An answerer said there are two conflicting attitudes: first a feeling that British English is something special; and secondly that most British people use very poor English.

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Primus Secundus Tertius
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Commas and clauses

My experience of reading junior engineers' English was of seeing clause after clause separated by commas, with only the occasional full stop. No other type of punctuation mark.

It was English written as it is spoken, but often with very limited vocabulary. No concept that writing is a more formal performance.

One of them told me once that I was the first person who had ever gone through their writing to point out the mistakes. This from a person in their early twenties.

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Sitting pretty in IPv4 land? Look, you're gonna have to talk to IPv6 at some stage

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DNS is the answer

I don't need IPv6. I browse www.theregister.co.uk, and I email news@theregister.co.uk.

The funny numbers behind that are someone else's problem.

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Hurrah! Boffins finally discover liquid water sloshing around on Mars

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: That conclusion seems a bit fast to me

@Frank Ly

"Compare this approach to that of politicians who will have some kind of idea or dream and then wake up and tell you that it's true and that anyone who disagrees with them is a fool or worse."

Scientists deal with facts. Politicians deal with people, especially those who vote. People are slippery and evasive about getting others to pay for their needs; and politicians truly represent the people.

Politics is not as easy as it looks, and we are entitled to blame the voters (other people, of course).

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Brit spending watchdog brands GP Primary Support Care a 'complete mess'

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Who else is available

Another poor performance from Capita.

But who else is there? Our arts graduate civil service? The old defence contractors, trying to diversify out of a contracting market?

The NHS would do better to just hire a few capable sandwich students.

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No big deal... Kremlin hackers 'jumped air-gapped networks' to pwn US power utilities

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Revenge measures

One would expect the US to have computers in place to retaliate against any such attack. But I hope those computers have a reliable UPS.

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UK spies broke law for 15 years, but what can you do? shrugs judge

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Re: I would hardly expect precise targetting

@tiggity

A few years ago I happened to be on the High Street when an Animal Rights demonstration march took place, under heavy police supervision.

Any cat or dog would have run a mile from any of those marchers.

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Re: So that's the big deal

@Steelpillow

Roll on ubiquitous encryption and open democracy, communist and religious conspiracies, and a closed dictatorship of communists or religious nutters.

FTFY

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Sorry, Neil Armstrong. Boffins say you may not have been first life-form to set foot on the Moon

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Why cyanobacteria

Why the mention of cyanobacteria? They are highly evolved photosynthetic creatures.

There are many more primitive types of bacteria, at home in a neutral or reducing chemical environment, that would fit the dates of 4.5 billion and 3.5 billion years ago.

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Capita strikes again: Bug in UK-wide school info management system risks huge data breach

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Re: A real example: (names changed)

@Billat29

Your example shows that some degree of abstraction is required in designing a data system to cope with it. But you don't get good abstract design by contracting out to the lowest bidder.

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Tech support chap given no training or briefing before jobs, which is why he was arrested

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Golden Disk

One of my colleagues had finished a project at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough. (Yes, it was that long ago.) The staff there presented him with a golden disk: a DEC RK05 disk the size of a large dinner plate holding some 2.5 megabytes, the outside having been painted gold.

Then he was stopped by security as he left the site. But they did let him go after phone calls and explanations.

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Re: One time I DIDN'T get stopped....

I was in a queue at Heathrow in the 1970s when a Germanic voice behind asked, "Vy do zey haff separate queue for Belfast?"

An American voice further back remarked, "Gee, you haven't been here looong".

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@Symon

But it is not so easy to search the internet when the computer is broken.

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European Parliament balks at copyright law reform vote

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@Katrinab

Your comment intrigues me. Please explain the subtle difference between lobbying and spam.

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RIP Peter Firmin: Clangers creator dies aged 89

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Basil B had a delicious wit. I enjoyed watching him far more than the earlier Muffin the Mule, or the Flowerpot Men.

I wonder how some of these comedians would have been if mixed together. BB and Tony Hancock, Popeye and Sid James, Yogi and Dick Emery, ...

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Potato, potato. Toma6to, I'm going to kill you... How a typo can turn an AI translator against us

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Re: Time to do things the easier way

@Dr Dan

Once upon a time, anyone who was anyone in Europe understood Latin. Peasant languages such as English were not rated for serious discourse.

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Re: Rubbish in, rubbish out...

@big_D

Yet the roots of the English language are Germanic. I wonder how Google manages English <=> Dutch, since Dutch is the closest related language to English. My own impression of Dutch is that it is one third English, one third German, and one third that I cannot make out.

It does seem from other comments that formal and informal versions of language need to be treated separately,

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