* Posts by RLWatkins

69 posts • joined 14 Feb 2013


Sure, you can keep Grandpa Windows 7 snug in the old code home – for a price


Re: Happily

Linux running KDE isn't bad. I took a KDE netbook and a big screen on vacation a few years back. Mom, 80, who had Win7 at the time, sat down in front of the screen and just started doing what she needed to do. Not much of a learning curve there.

The chips are down: Now Microsoft blames Intel CPU supply shortages for dips in Windows, Office sales


Windows and Office sales down because... they're unreliable.

Microsoft are so accustomed to people buying their products even though they're either (a) unreliable, or (b) finally reliable, but de-supported so the company can compel people to pay them again for the *new* one... which is unreliable. It astonishes them that their customers resent that, and that the fraction who are not quite firmly locked in are seeking alternatives. Sounds like a particularly clueless brand of hubris, but it was 35 years in the making.

Red Hat gets heebie-jeebies over MongoDB's T&Cs squeeze: NoSQL database dropped from RHEL 8B over license


Really, Bruce?

Well, sure, an open-source license which compels making the underlying infrastructure open-source as well is pretty silly, perhaps even stupid, but it's still open-source.

But Perens is entitled to his opinion: It isn't something I'd do, so "... don't call it Open Source." I guess that settles, it, huh?

Oracle exec: Open-source vendors locking down licences proves 'they were never really open'


Java, anyone?

As I recall, Sun placed Java in the public domain before Oracle bought the company, yet Oracle has been trying to stuff that genie back into the lamp ever since, to the point of telling users during this last Java update to be prepared in the future to pay Oracle for its use, so Oracle's people are in no position to criticize anyone.

Man drives 6,000 miles to prove Uncle Sam's cellphone coverage maps are wrong – and, boy, did he manage it


This was a good series of tests

This was a good series of tests, despite not covering the entire state in the manner specified by the FCC, because all cell relay towers are near roads. Running additional tests from somewhere in the middle of a farm or a forest, where there were no roads, would actually have yielded worse results.

While Windows 7 wobbled, AI continued its relentless march at Microsoft


Embrace, extend, extinguish

"Yes, we still have problems getting our heads around Microsoft’s born-again evangelising of Linux, too."

Really? You haven't been a serious Microsoft customer for very long, have you? Recall the Microsoft anti-trust trial, where the company's stratagem of adopting widely accepted standards, then gradually introducing non-compliant features, was described as "Embrace, extend, extinguish."

Then, recall the company's embrace of ANSI standards for SQL and C++, then their slow drift away from those standards so that users of Microsoft's products found that later migrating their work to compliant, competing platforms had become quite costly. The other term for that is "lured into a lock-in".

They've been doing this for years. They're not even reticent about it. And why should they stop? It isn't unlawful, and people keep buying into the scam.

Steamer closets, flying cars, robot boxers, smart-mock-cock ban hypocrisy – yes, it's the worst of CES this year


That depends on what a squid looks like when it's excited, doesn't it?

And I'm afraid to ask how you do know how one looks.... [grin]

Two out of five Silicon Valley techies complain Trump's H-1B crackdown has hit 'em hard


Wait... what? It's employers who don't like it, employees on the whole are pleased.

This is a pretty small sample size, and I'm kind of puzzled whence it came.

Being on the front lines of this business, both as a contract and a salaried programmer for 40 years, and being in management for 5 years (I hated it and returned to the trenches of my own volition), taught me something very important:

Any government policy which helps depress the salaries of highly skilled professional employees will be unpopular with production employees, who work their asses off to maintain proficiency, and popular with managers who work their asses off to secure funding from executives.

So something tells me that this sample was derived almost entirely from a pool of managers and foreign workers, perhaps with an executive or two thrown in as ringers.

In this case Trumplestilskin, like the proverbial stopped clock, got it right for once. A policy which puts a bit more money into the pockets of citizens at the expense of mostly giant companies which don't pay taxes, or buy cars, houses or groceries, is Good For America.

Oh, and the survey was worded in proper English. "Impact" is not a verb; the proper term is "affect".

Your two-minute infosec roundup: Drone arrests, Alexa bot hack, Windows zero-day, and more


"Internet" of "things"

And while I'm thinking with my mouth open, or rather with my hands on the keyboard, there is no "Internet of things".

An internetwork connects other networks. Your things, if you have any of those, are connected to *your* network.

It seems almost as if the companies which wish to collect the data which your things record have promulgated that terminology specifically so that people would think, quite without really thinking about it, that it's OK, or even desirable, to connect your network of things to their network using the Internet.

It almost sounds like a conspiracy theory, only to be a conspiracy it would have to be secret. Said companies are quite open about wanting access to video of your front porch, the things you say at home, details of your finances, a map of your house. They don't make any secret of it.

There's an amazing level of gall and stupidity at work there. Just amazing.


"No Russian vote hack."

Of course not. No "hackers", foreign or otherwise, seem to be tampering with US elections. Russia still provides us with myriad examples of what not to do, but we can't blame them for that. It's our own political parties doing it, one mainly although the other doesn't get off the hook entirely.

I recall some thirteen or fourteen years ago when a memo was leaked from a voting machine company which shall remain nameless. It described in some detail the measures by which said company would "deliver the presidential election to the {insert name of criminal enterprise here} party". And did they deny it? No. They sued the journalist who published it, citing US trade secrets law, claiming he "revealed confidential company information".

No, I am not joking.

Agencies outside the US are indeed interfering with our elections, using our now freer-than-ever media to disseminate propaganda, but all the actual, direct election-tampering appears wholly to be Made In the USA.

We rig our elections better than those damn' foreigners ever could. 'Murica!

Serverless is awesome (if you overlook inflated costs, dislike distributed computing, love vendor lock-in), say boffins


No, it really is "serverless".

Yes, really. At least according to terminology which has been in use for sixty years.

Remember when those guys invented the "client/server" model of distributed computing? Computers called servers ran services, to wit non-application-specific functionality such as file storage or printing.

The computers which ran both application and service code were at the time called "hosts". They still are, since about 1960, except at companies which are dominated by marketroids. (We all know who.)

So yeah, most of the computers in those datacenters are hosts, not servers, and yes, if it's running my application code it is indeed "serverless". See? They got it right by accident. Stopped clock, etc....

Astroboffins spy a rare exoplanet evaporating before their eyes


Re: This should be an object lesson

And vaporwave, while we're at it. Can't abide the genre.

It's all a matter of time: Super-chill atomic clock could sniff gravitational waves, dark matter


Re: Neat

About that third Google hit, you should spend some time on USENET. Take a gander at 'sci.physics' or 'sci.physics.relativity'.

I don't read either group lately, got tired of all the you're-stupid-and-everything-you-know-is-wrong posts, but some of them are justified: the crowd of relativity-deniers who gather there beggars belief.

What makes that all the more sad is the relative technical sophistication required even to use USENET. These are fairly intelligent people, bandying around some absolutely crackpot notions. [sigh]

Super Micro chief bean counter: Bloomberg's 'unwarranted hardware hacking article' has slowed our server sales


I'm puzzled about all the controversy here.

This is the kind of thing which, if the Chinese government had thought of it, they would have done. And they have more than an adequate number of qualified people to have come up with the idea.

Moreover, the simpler integrated circuits are quite tiny. It's possible to embed the things into circuit boards where only a fine-tooth X-ray could find them. We know how. So do they.

Finally like most states, they have the attitude of "Whatever happens to you is OK, because you aren't us." And unlike all but a few other states, they discuss the stratagem openly.

Our own (EEC, US) people have been warning us about this for twenty years. Really, if I were in the upper echelons of the Guo Yi, it's what I'd have done. Why not? Why the skepticism?

We, all of us, are a bunch of large-animal, mammalian, top-predator, omnivores. We live in a big world. And the only people in it who don't want to defeat us are the ones who haven't noticed us yet.

It's been going on all along. Get used to it.

5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1... Runty-birds are go: 12,000+ internet-beaming mini-satellites OK'd by USA


Sorry, I was picking my mandible up off the floor...

... which delayed posting of this comment.

Anyone remember that Iridium sat banging into that out-of-commission Russian recon bird? That's where many, maybe most, of those 10cm pieces of junk came from, by the way.

Anyone know any statistics? Anyone care to calculate the disjunctive probability of non-mutually-exclusive events, in this case collisions, when the sample size increases by a factor of six?

Anyone recall that our (US) FCC has already lost its tiny little collective mind? Or whether were they ever competent to manage a "space debris policy" to begin with?

Yep, folks, once again it appears that Hell is full and the dead are walking the Earth. So, hey, what's new?

Microsoft reveals xlang: Cross-language, cross-compiler and coming to a platform near you


"Oh, sure, we've got one of those...."

The above is the MMM: the Microsoft Marketing Mantra.

Normally Ms do it an a (sometimes successful) attempt to claw bits of market share back from small startups: "Oh, sure, we've got one of those. It ships with Windows." Done with media hubs, graphics editors, object-based databases, the list goes on and on. And occasionally, after ten years or so, they manage to make the puff of smoke into a real product.

More often they just blather along in that vein until something else captures people's attention.

But in this case they aren't going up against some small startup, they're trying to jump on a bandwagon that left them behind decades ago. 'JohnFen' is right: We have GCC. We have multi-platform BC-based languages like Python and Java. Hell, we have Mono, which runs C# on nearly anything. (I clearly recall Ms' efforts to stuff that genie back into its lamp.)

Had 'em for ages. Going to stick with 'em because Ms will likely lose interest before they have anything useful to sell us.

Let's say it all together: IT'S BEEN DONE.

Cops: Autonomous Uber driver may have been streaming The Voice before death crash


Let's not lose our perspective here...

... and entirely forget that a pedestrian crossed a dark street in the middle of a block, stepping right into the path of an oncoming car which had its headlights, however ineffective from the standpoint of the driver, lit and clearly visible. The chances are better than even that even a human driver would have hit her.

I'm all for making autonomous vehicles safe, and when they fail to meet their design requirements I'm all for making a stink about it, but in every case thus far which has made the news the automated system was not at fault: either the driver was depending upon it doing things it wasn't designed for, or the system performed as well as a human driver would have.

In this case the autonomous system, had parts of it not been disabled, might have *outperformed* a human driver, but even misconfigured it did about as well as a live driver might have done.

If you're a Fedora fanboi, this latest release might break your heart a little


Why is this a big deal? Oh, and the hat looks like a trilby.

Repositories are not part of the operating system. The distros are what you get at the outset. Repos are a source of additional software. Some provide updates, drivers, other enhancements to the OS. Others provide application-specific software. Some of that is proprietary.


Nah. Almost everyone who uses a computer uses some proprietary software. Some of it is very useful, helps some of us earn our living. Having some of those repos pre-set makes it something less of a pain in the ass to use Linux. Good for them. They're doing everyone a good turn.


The sky is not falling. The user base as a whole isn't disappointed. This is not a religion. It's a collection of tools. There is a difference. No significant breach of ethics or trust is taking place. Mom and apple pie are not at risk. Daleks are not killing kittens.

Oh, and the hat looks like a trilby. That's typically what genus Crested Hipster mistakes for a fedora.

(source: someone who has been programming, and wearing hats, for 45 years)

Just when you thought it was safe to go ahead with microservices... along comes serverless


This model is not new...

... and it is not universally useful.

One can decompose *any* "monolithic" application into a collection of functions, assign each of them TCP/IP URIs, send them messages and await the results which they produce. In fact, one of the models of procedural programming consists of sending messages, i.e. activation records, to functions.

(Entire operating systems are based on the concept of message-passing, e.g. QNX, AmigaOS.)

Even the problem of global variables can be resolved in this model by replacing them with accessor functions.

Where the notion of this being a universal panacea breaks down is this: overhead. For top-level procedures in interactive information applications, which are expected to run at UI speed, this sort of thing is fine. On the other hand, if one is running something that is compute- or I/O-bound instead of UI-bound, one suffers a huge loss of performance.

To make matters worse, much of this interaction now takes place over a network, rather than by passing such messages in memory. And a network is a bus, no matter how many switches are put into place to make it behave as a mesh. All those "serverless" calls can make it quite congested.

Try calculating a 50K employee payroll this way. On the other hand, don't.

(One sees the same problem in "hyper-kernel" systems which are scaled up too far.)

Loosely coupled has its place. Tightly coupled has its place. Like any new paradigm, or in this case a new name for an old paradigm, being shiny and new makes it interesting, but doesn't necessarily make it universally useful.

AI software that can reproduce like a living thing? Yup, boffins have only gone and done it


Wow! In other news, Toyota invents the wheel!

Yup. It's called genetic programming. It's a time-honored technique. I even saw a Web site back in the late 1990s where people would vote on how appealing images were and a genetic algorithm would use the scores to make new ones. Some turned out quite nice.

As for its application to what by all rights we should refer to as the four common forms of AI (genetic, expert system, data mining in its many guises and neural) the idea isn't uncommon. At some point I may set one up to find optimally configured neurals for recognizing plants.

Not a leap of the imagination. What's more, all the parts to construct such a system are freely available, reliable, well-documented and in long use in this very manner.

Which means someone will patent it soon. ("Sure, we can't patent the screwdriver, but we can patent *the use of the screwdriver for driving screws*." We all know how that works.)

Five things you need to know about Microsoft's looming Windows 10 Spring Creators Update


I'm stunned, stunned I tell you.

1) Thirty-minute install: Heard this one before. It's still fiction.

2) Timeline: We already have this. It's called 'Recent'. Combined with all the nifty "telemetry" (read: spyware) features, the notion is terrifying.

3) Nearby Share: Given the way Microsoft manages security, this too is terrifying.

4a) Things look "nicer"? This too is an old policy, i.e. to release the same old crap with lipstick on it.

4b) Edge? Just say "No."

5) Refused to divulge the details? Not surprising. I'm still removing "telemetry" from my Win7 box, and have had to repeatedly, and for years. Yet it's *never mentioned* in the patch notes.

Microsoft is a constant in an ever-changing world. But not a comforting one.

Bitcoin's blockchain: Potentially a hazardous waste dump of child abuse, malware, etc


Wait... wait. So what?

Blockchains are a decentralized way of distributing tamper-proof data. Any data. Cryptocurrency ledgers, software licenses, whatever.

Nothing special here about Bitcoin or about blockchains. Lots of applications use blockchains. They are not new.

The only surprising thing here is that someone wants to distribute tamper-proof malware or child porn.

But look on the bright side: they're cryptographically signed, so once someone catches up with them it'll be simple enough to prove who released the stuff into the wilds.

This is all a blinding glimpse of the obvious. [yawn]

Death notice: Moore’s Law. 19 April 1965 – 2 January 2018


There is no such thing as Moore's Law.

It would be better called "Moore's observation", as the man himself said on more than one occasion.

Operating as we are on the borderline between science and engineering, it's helpful to remember what a "law" is. Gordon Moore himself revised his observation a few times, and never touted it as an inviolable principle, but rather as a way of predicting progress.

Seagate's lightbulb moment: Make read-write heads operate independently


Re: '90s Called...

The '90s? Remember those washing machine-sized 20MB top-loading unsealed multi-platter drives that old DEC and DG boxes used? I recall some DEC guys experimenting with putting four sets of actuators and heads in those in the mid 1970s.

Cool idea, and interesting trying to come up with software which would take a read/write queue and optimally route the requests to the appropriate heads... on a machine with a 64K address space, no less.

This profession has always been a blast, and stays that way - as much fun as you can have with your pants on.

Chinese whispers: China shows off magnetic propulsion engine for ultra-silent subs, ships


It's old technology, so what's the big deal?

Some things won't change. So we'd best remember Art Martella's immortal wisdom in "Eris Helps Me Bowl", "Say it with me now: IT'S BEEN DONE."

Seriously, people have been speculating about this since the 1950s, and trying to do it since the 1970s. I have been reading about this idea now and then since I was a child, and I'm now an old guy. After all, anybody with a big batch of superconductors can do it, but is it practical? It wasn't then, and it isn't now, and won't be until someone devises a superconductor which works at reasonable temperatures.

This isn't a reflection on the writer, so much as it is on the ecosystem of science writers who resurrect this stuff, but can't be bothered to learn anything about the history of technology.

And it isn't uncommon.

I recall pointing out on Slash Dot, fifteen years ago, that Toshiba hadn't *invented* the ocean-thermal-gradient power plant, that India had built one in the 1960s. I thought it sad that Toshiba had ignored all the incremental development of that technology since then, and were making the same mistakes all over. They thought I was spoiling the party and reacted in the time-honored manner of surly children.

So while we're at it, let's carve that final line on the lintel of the temple entrance....



Three words: Synthetic gene circuit. Self-assembling bacteria build pressure sensor


Bio-fabrication is better at making food than it is parts

'"We do believe biofabrication is cheaper and requires less energy" than other approaches.'

Sure. And it makes parts that are less reliable, and less robust, than other manufacturing methods. What's more, there are literally quintillions of things wandering around the Earth which want to eat bio-fabricated parts, and very few at all that want to eat parts made of metal or silicon.

This is all really nifty, but I don't want to rely on a machine which includes parts which themselves consist of a bunch of prokaryotes pretending to be sensors, memory or whatever.

A big ask for any nerd, but going outside (your usual data sets) can be good for you


"Ask" is a verb.

Smart robots prove stupidly easy to hack for spying and murder


"Smart" robots?

Seriously? Is this like "smart phones"? I've just about decided never to buy anything with the word "smart" in the product name. "Smart" joins the lexicon of hogwash.

Verizon kicks out hot new Unlimited* plans


Laissez faire at work

"We're doing this so we can claim customers are still getting what we told them they were buying, without in fact delivering it."

Isn't the EU full of network providers which actually have to adhere to rules governing quality of service and false advertising, and which are still *hugely profitable*?

Can North Korean nukes hit US mainland? Maybe. But EMP blast threat is 'highly credible'


Er, OK. Let's meet problems halfway.

You may recall that the first North Korean "nuclear" test had the seismic signature of a big coal-dust explosion. Since then they may have built actual, working nuclear devices, but how many? Two or three at the outside?

Moreover, we can be pretty sure that the Japanese have nuclear bombs, since they did buy twenty tons of plutonium from France. And a treaty the Taiwanese, Israelis and South Africans signed 35 years or so ago suggests that they also have some (aside from the evidence of Israel's own, independent efforts).

But where would the Norks get the plutonium, or how would they refine the uranium? They just don't earn enough selling iron ore to the Chinese to buy the stuff, nor enough to buy the equipment to refine it themselves. And there's no one nutty enough to sell it to them.

So who's Kim Jr. going to shoot with his handful of bombs? His best bet *is* the US, since if he hits any of his close neighbors they won't have many compunctions about turning Penang into a smoking crater... and at the moment neither would the US.

Un is a jackass, and is out of touch, but he just isn't that stupid.

DJI's Spark drones to be bricked by September 1 unless firmware updated


How does one brick a disconnected device? Give that a moment's thought....

If you don't download any updates to your device, then the manufacturer can't change its behavior in any way at all, including turning it into a brick... unless it was *already designed to brick* if you don't download software updates.

Kind of sneaky to do that, kind of dishonest not to mention it to the customers paying them for the gear, and downright slimy not to mention the fact when making an announcement of this sort.

Thank you for letting us know whose equipment never to buy.

GPU-flingers' bash: Forget the Matrix, Neo needs his tensors


We're doing linear algebra here. It's called a matrix.

Somehow, while I wasn't looking, the word "matrix", referring to N-dimensional arrays of scalars which are the subject of linear algebra, got renamed "tensor".

I find that a bit odd, since a tensor is a very specific use of the matrix by physics, a use which bears little or no relation to the use of matrices in the programming of neural networks.

I'll give you this, though: the word "tensor" is a lot cooler and edgier than the far more appropriate, but old and stodgy term, "matrix".

Source: someone who started studying linear algebra and physics around 1972.

PACK YOUR BAGS! Boffins spot Earth-size planet most likeliest yet to harbor alien life


stay away from red dwarf stars

These stars are usually incredibly active, constantly flaring and ejecting big, huge wads of plasma. Are you *sure* you want to live there?

Oracle finally targets Java non-payers – six years after plucking Sun


Does Java belong to Oracle?

I distinctly recall Sun Microsystems announcing that they were placing Java in the public domain prior to their purchase by Oracle.

Veeam kicks Symantec's ass over unpatentable patents


Wait... what?

A patent on backing up to a different physical device? On backing up only important files? Is this some kind of joke? This stuff got past patent examiners? Hell is full and the dead are walking the Earth.

'Fascist' seizes supremo search slot on Trump triumph


makes sense, but why just Trump

As I recall, the short definition of that word is when business owns government. We've Weans been working toward that for a while, indeed the process was finally complete about a decade ago. Why, I wonder, are they picking only on Trump?

US govt straight up accuses Russia of hacking prez election


Why thank the Russians?

Poor babies had their system cracked. But why thank the Russians for doing it, when any twelve-year-old script kiddie could have managed the job? I mean, they can't be that sophisticated when the guy who tried to hard-wipe the e-mail had to ask a Reddit board how to go about it. What morons.

Show us the code! You should be able to peek inside the gadgets you buy – FTC commish


Why is everyone and his uncle Harry so completely missing the point?

Am I the only one in the world to have reached these glaringly obvious conclusions:

That devices in my home, the so-called "internet of things" (and how I loathe the term), have no business whatever being connected directly to the public Internet?

That the only network to which they need be connected leads to my own computer at home?

That if they communicate with the outside world at all it is to be directly from that computer, through VPN, directly to my handset's computer, and nowhere else?

Seriously, I can't be the only one of seven billion people who is thinking, "This is like listening to public debate over mounting a control panel and monitors for one's home on a light pole on the nearest street corner. What sane individual would do this, and why?"

I can understand wanting these devices to be reliable and safe, yet all of the debate seems to revolve around making them reliable, and safe *to connect to the public network*.

Reject that patently stupid idea and the rest of the problem is vastly simplified.

Google chap bakes Amiga emulator into Chrome


C / C++ sandbox?

They run it "Native Client... a C / C++ sandbox"? That's odd, AmigaDOS was written in B. Hmmm... Yes, the UAE emulates the hardware, and they run AmigaDOS on that. Slow, I imagine. Still, it was a damn' nice computer, running what amounts to Win95 in 1987. Too bad Commodore America got SCO'd. Wonder what it'd be like on modern hardware.

Microsoft takes PUPs behind the shed with gun in hand


Re: So When is Oracle Removed

Why shouldn't Ms remove MySQL? It does other competing products. What is the difference between those and MySQL which would make it permanently immune?


On the menu today: Word Salad

"will escalate corporate attack vectors"? How does one "escalate a vector"? What makes them "corporate"? I think we can puzzle out what this means, i.e. to make a system more vulnerable to crackers, but stating it in plain English might have been helpful.

So why the hell do we bail banks out?


distinction between a bank and an investment bank

Here in the US "banks" were, up to a time, required to keep their depository institution functions separate from their investment banking functions. The depository stuff is pretty low risk. The investment stuff is pretty high risk. We had to bail these banks out for the reasons you cite because the two got mixed: they were doing investment banking with depositors' funds. If they'd stayed separate we'd have been able to allow the investment banking to fail, as it should have done given the stupid risks they were taking, while the depositors remained in the clear.

What is the REAL value of your precious, precious data?


missing the point....

"The thinking seems to be that we must protect European information from being sucked up by American corporations because it is valuable and we Europeans should exploit that value."

Er, no.

We must protect European and American information from being sucked up by *any* corporation because their doing so violates the privacy of the people whom that information describes. Re-casting that argument in terms of the commercial value of such information obscures that very important issue... perhaps intentionally.

Tech troll's podcasting patent blown out of the water by EFF torpedo


a patent on the recording and distribution of audio

Wow, what a novel idea.

I'm still fighting to gain my patent on the graphical representation of verbal communication, and that other patent on artifacts, so I can collect royalties from anyone who writes or who uses anything at all that they didn't happen to find lying about on the forest floor.

This is The American Way. Roh!

T-Mobile US goes gaga for Wi-Fi calling, AT&T to launch in 2015


Re: Unbelievable..

Hasn't T-Mobile had this for... what? Three, four years? I got a G1 when they first were offered, and T-Mobile already had WiFi calling then.

No, this is the second time Apple has adopted a mature technology, then convinced you that they pioneered it. Good advertising that, but not real honest.

(No, not the second time. The tenth? Fifteenth...?)

Daring danger-drone dives into VOLCANIC eruption – what happens next has to be seen


picked the wrong track

Didn't listen to the audio, but "Fistful of Silence" would have been a better soundtrack.

Ford to dump Microsoft's 'aggravating' in-car tech for ... BlackBerry?


Re: QNX is Blackberry by name only

Yes. I recall a QNX ad from fifteen years or so ago showing a computer in a power station.

"Uptime: Six years".

Reliable. I like reliable. Especially in critical systems in the piece of heavy machinery that moves me back and forth to work every day.

Self-forming liquid metal just like a TERMINATOR emerges from China lab


Old news

Wow! Take droplets of room-temperature liquid metal, mercury and gallium are old favorites, apply an electrical charge, and lo and behold, they're attracted to one another! And like any other liquid with a bit of surface tension, when they touch they merge!

Gee whiz!

People were doing stuff like this for science fairs 40-50 years ago when I was little.

Amazon patents caches for physical goods


OK, this is a "me too" post....

The notion that a retailer can patent the practice of housing inventory near where they expect people to buy it is prima facie absurd.

If that can be done, then I shall resume my effort, first mentioned on this site in 2006, to patent the graphical representation of verbal communications, and to patent the use of artifacts, i.e. the use of anything not simply found lying about on the ground.

This new Amazon patent-of-the-obvious gives me renewed hope.

Anatomy of a 22-year-old X Window bug: Get root with newly uncovered flaw

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