* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

The case of the disappearing insect. Boffin tells Reg: We don't know why... but we must act

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Re: Maybe if they collected less insects, there would be more around...

The "norm" for a lawn is it to be uniform, green, rye grass only and nothing will stop your average suburbia dweller splashing a bottle of glyphosphate a week on it to keep it this way.

Glyphosate is a non-selective. Splashing a bottle of it a week will simply result in a wizened brown mat of ex-rye grass.

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Re: Pedantry

"Insects are at the bottom of the ecosystem,"

Revolutionary ecology as well.

Legends of the scrawl: Ordnance Survey launches augmented reality tool for maps

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"another for utilities companies to visualise underground pipes from over ground"

Reconciling theory with reality could be a bit of a problem for this.

What’s the real point of being a dev? It's saving management from themselves

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"I was never that sure what a 4GL language/system was"

I can only speak from experience with Informix 4GL. Essentially a structured procedural language (but why retain "LET" as a keyword for assignment statements) but also incorporated SQL, form handling and report handling. The form and report handling incorporated event handling ("ON" as a keyword).

Essentially it added higher-level abstractions (databases, menus and reports) to what previous languages had had just as 3rd generation languages did in comparison to assembler and as assembler did in comparison to machine code.

I never quite escaped the feeling that the original non-procedural Informix applications, Perform and Ace (a report writer) were more truly what was toted about as 4GLs at the time but, within its restrictions, it was more practical - serious work with Perform & Ace required linking C code into their interpreters.

The OO approach to incorporating SQL has been very different, as far as I've experienced it. There would be some object which had a string component into which one would build the SQL with string operations rather than directly writing it in the source as a statement in its own right. This seemed clumsy. It was no surprise that New Era, Informix's own attempt at introducing OO into 4GL which did just this was a failure. However, as time went on it became more practical to take Informix 4GL's approach of preparing a named statement from a string and then executing it as more practical than the original for many purposes and still less OTT than the OO approach.

What we seem to have ended up with, for the most part, is 3rd generation procedural languages with OO features added. They don't really represent a higher level of abstraction and this, I think, is a failure.

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"When I was in college, we were told that 4G languages were the future. Drag and drop programs."

Wasn't that 5GL?

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"Deep in the mists of time, some 25 to 30 years ago, there was a belief that software production would change radically."

I'm glad you went on to explain which particular belief you were thinking of. There've been so many software that writes itself fads. If one actually works it'll take everyone with real experience by surprise.

Canadian govt snoops emit their own malware detection tool, eh

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"the 5 eyes dancing together"

+1 for mixed metaphor of the day.

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Re: "automatically recognizes the various file formats.. and triggers the analysis of each file.”

"Cautious thumbs up, provided a)It's available in source code"

From the subhead: "Canada's Communications Security Establishment has open-sourced its own malware detection tool."

Your data will get hacked anyway so you might as well give up protecting it

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"You mean, like these ones?"

A programmed maximum height? If it's going to be overflying people it would need a programmed minimum height as well or that freezer's going to be needed PDQ.

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Re: 01/01/80

Informix dates start with 1 = 01/01/1900. A date of 31/12/1899 is a warning that someone didn't understand the difference between null and zero.

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Re: Dungeness

Isn't Dungeness just the sort of place where low-budget film units go to stage Sci-Fi cowboy shoot-outs & the like?

HPE quits cloud servers, two weeks after telling El Reg it wouldn't do that

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Re: Exciting new strategy

The HP way goes further than that.

4) Get rid of all the R&D staff because their salaries are holding back profits.

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Re: Vaxen

I remember when out HP-UX servers were seen as a temporary solution because the business's standard platform was VAX/VMS. I wonder how that turned out.

IBM broke its cloud by letting three domain names expire

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Re: Pay peanuts, get monkeys!

"If you do this, it's easy to hedge against forgetfulness for at least 9 years"

And therein lies the problem. It just increases the probability of forgetfulness in the future. If you persist in getting rid of everyone who knows how things get done there's damn-all chance that when the need to renew comes around there's anyone left who knows it needs to be renewed. And if the company has in the meantime screwed up its payments system if, by any chance, someone does know about renewals, the payment might not go through in time anyway.

Google faces $10k-a-day fines if it defies court order to hand over folks' private overseas email

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Re: Cheap marketing

"the idea that data is safe with Google"

And also hides the idea that data might need to be safe from Google.

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Re: The Law

"Google are trapped by a corrupt court system in the US."

The word you are looking for here isn't "corrupt", it's "arrogant".

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Re: Mail held overseas probably belongs to a non-US citizen

"this particular goose is probably paying most of its taxes at special Republic of Ireland no-local-profits rates"

Its US employees are probably paying taxes at standard US rates, however, and spending their after-tax income moslty buying goods and services in the US.

And the company will be buying goods and services in the US for its own use. Why do you think Ireland can afford to set its corporation tax so low?

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Re: Maybe the company should relocate

If a US company eg. Enron / Bernie Madoff / Lehman Bros was allowed to work only with cloud data held remotely then they could tell any US agency with a US warrant or a freedom of information to get lost. go through the established procedures to obtain a warrant in the jurisdiction in which the data is held.


Why is is that this sort of thing keeps coming up in any thread in this general area?

Survey: Tech workers are terrified they will be sacked for being too old

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"You can't have just the same skill-set at 50-60, that a 20-year old does. He'll not move faster, and think faster, but he'll also learn new concepts much faster."

New concepts? All too often old ones with a new terminology. And when they're not retreads they're often things along the lines of "I could have done with that 5 years ago" and grabbed with both hands because you understand why.

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"they will have your replacement call you, though, to get it for free"

Whoa there. Do not proceed beyond the comma.

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Re: Bah!

"They seem to think that something changed in the way computers work sometime around 1986."

1986? When they were 14 (rolling date).

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Re: Wrinklies

"Transistors envisaged in 1930s"

The semi-conductor diode: C19th

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Re: any grad born after '66

They want cheap "yes men".

Don't forget the "yes" part. They don't want people who've been round the block a few times and really aren't going to be impressed by any manglement bullshit.

Microsoft exec says ARM-powered Windows laptops have multi-day battery life

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Re: Microsoft FAIL

"If the whole world was in agreement, why did RT get any traction at all?"


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Re: Please explain

"Microsoft is giving up on smartphones, but loves the idea of ARM-powered laptops running Windows 10."

It also loved the idea of smartphones and of ARM-powered Surfaces.

The problem with BigCos (Microsoft is far from alone in this) is that if something doesn't take off quickly enough (and "enough" seems to shrink these days) or its champion leaves the business then the product gets dumped along with all the customers and secondary vendors that had bought into it. Ironically this should make potential customers more wary so that it becomes harder to get something to take off. In reality Barnum applies.

Let's dig into how open source could KO the Silicon Valley chat silos

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Re: >open ecosystems cost money to run and in turn charge their customers.

"Closed providers build proprietary protocols over an open port....

These days, phones bypass the corporate firewalls so we could use any protocol we fancy."

And so we do things the convenient way. Once again convenience tramples security. More and more stuff gets done in the browser - more and more ways to deliver malware.

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Re: Why people herd themselves towards closed ecosystems

"a lot of these closed ecosystems are short-term fads so their longevity isn't an issue."

It depends what's in them. If it's every idle thought that wafted through idle heads then no problem. If it's somebody's only collection of photographs of their deceased parents (yes, I know) then it's a bigger problem. If it's a long piece of collective research then it's real pissing-off time.

Anyone remember geocities?

There may be merit in paying for what you get.

You can't find tech staff – wah, wah, wah. Start with your ridiculous job spec

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Re: Training spend

"PHB's see all training as a cost, and lump it all together."

Not entirely. Management training is fine. It might be completely irrelevant to the tech job but it becomes compulsory. If someone's handling their tech job well they must be promoted to management so they can be replaced by someone who can't do the job as well. The fact that the tech abilities are at best orthogonal to management abilities is irrelevant.

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Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

"a woman then about 50, applied for a job with an electronic publisher. The latter asked her what her SAT scores were."

ISO 9000 strikes again, no doubt.

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Re: Not knowing how to look can make it hard to find

"I spent around 17 years contracting"

I didn't spend quite that long freelance - I retired instead - but I did find that a lot of work came from existing contacts, word of mouth and repeat business. It bypassed all the HR crap.

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Re: Don't worry your PHB's

"Mine went this time last year."

This is the time to g freelance. You can then charge an appropriate fee for sorting out the problems they brought on themselves. For IR35 reasons, of course, it might be better to sort out problems that other people brought on themselves in like manner.

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"In order to hit a roughly competitive pay grade (the public sector tends to pay a bit less, but to get it in the same ballpark) HR will hack technical job descriptions to make them look like management posts."

I had roughly this sort of experience. In order to make a competitive offer (e.g. they couldn't match the company care) they nominated the post as management. Fair enough, it involved systems management. One of the amusing aspects was that a little later the grade was given company cars. However HR eventually started having problems with the notion that what was essentially a technical post didn't have much people management content.

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Then you get the idiots who say "must have 10 years experience in docker"

I suspect that this might stem from their ISO 9000 implementation specifying such nonsense. Whoever wrote the quality manual is patting themselves on the back saying "we only employ the highest quality staff" when it translates to "we only employ liars".

I do, however, habitually suspect ISO 9000 as being responsible for a lot of bad management.

EU: No encryption backdoors but, eh, let's help each other crack that crypto, oui? Ja?

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"Much more sensible than installing backdoors."

It sounds more like looking for backdoors that weren't intended, keeping the information from the vendor but then sharing the information out among themselves so that it'll leak out further still. Remind me again, how did we come to have Wannacry?

How does this differ from black hat hacking?

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"There is also the question of whether law-enforcement agencies will be happy to share their knowledge."

This will be got round by sharing it without intending to. And not necessarily with each other.

Samsung to let proper Linux distros run on Galaxy smartmobes

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Re: > Hoo boy, another attempt to make a PC out of a cellphone?

"Or maybe the chance to strip out the snooping software and just run a few trusted applications?"

That's the question. It's one thing being able to move over into "real" Linux when you want an app that's not on Android. Can you also do that when you don't want an app that is on Android?

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I think you mean "GNU/Linux".

I'm not sure that many distros are exclusively GNU these days.

NYC cops say they can't reveal figures on cash seized from people – the database is too shoddy

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Re: Contempt of court?

if the police claim not to know how much money they took, they can't be even forced to "give it back"

OTOH they can't prove they didn't take anything that was claimed. Consider a the possibility of a class action on behalf of all the citizens of New your who each had $1m improperly seized from them...

Oh, it's been repaired. That was quick.

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Yet another reason I will never visit the US.

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Re: I smell rampant mendacity...

"they thought they needed a z10 to record the (evidently) colossal volumes of loot they were planning to blag"

Well, they had all this seized money and it seemed a shame to spend it on something.

You're doing open source wrong, Microsoft tsk-tsk-tsks at Google: Chrome security fixes made public too early

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Re: Does Microsoft's approach not imply...

"What MS are complaining about is a natural facet of the open source development and release process, namely the (public) master source code repository will be updated before a (public) build containing the fixes is made available."

The developer will have built an executable before updating the main git repository. That could be released as the production version but on the whole most people might not be comfortable with that. They could, however, have a staging repository which is, in effect, their main one, build the release version from that, release it and then bring the public repository into line.

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"Well, you read the article and were moved to comment, so er, I guess you do AC."

Moved to comment, yes? But read the article? Maybe. Read and understood? Maybe not.

Raspberry Pi burning up? Microsoft's recipe can save it and AI

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A new application: frying quails' eggs in high end restaurants. As a bonus the temperature can be controlled by the software.

Please replace the sword, says owner of now-hollow stone

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According to the legend, the wizard Merlin embedded a sword into a stone, swearing that whoever pulled it out again would become king of all England Britain.

First annual review of Privacy Shield gives it a resounding... 'adequate'

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the European Commission has ruled that it provides an "adequate" level of protection for personal data.

Let's just see what the ECJ says, shall we?

So the 'Year of Linux' never happened. When is it Chrome OS's turn?

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Re: Linux on the desktop

"And forget about scanning."

I'm glad you never told me that before. Because I never knew you couldn't use Linux with scanners I've been doing it for years. Am I going to have to stop?

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Re: Games

"People won't use Linux if there are no games for it and manufacturers wont create games for Linux until there is a mass market for it."

I don't give a damn whether there are games for it or not. I doubt I'm unique. You might not buy it if there are no games. For other's it's not a factor and for enterprise markets it could be a positive advantage.

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Re: Data Slurpage

"Ubuntu, which is bad for data slurping too"


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Re: 'But the public didn't bite '

"Some of us actually need to exchange files with people who use MS Office; LibreOffice is NOT capable of doing 100% accurate round trips."

Don't you mean MS Office is NOT capable of doing 100% accurate round trips? Office users don't actually notice that the problem might lie with their software. They've been habituated to the need to keep updating Office because their old version wouldn't read, let alone round trip, a file written by a newer version.

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Re: 'But the public didn't bite '

"but just annoying complexity for the average punter."

In the meantime relatives with old XP boxes or W7 that got hit with ransomware seem quite happy with Zorin. I doubt anyone is ever going to sell a laptop with it installed but just burning a DVD of the latest version, sticking it in the drive, boot and install isn't exactly taxing and avoids the nightmare of having to keep supporting them on Windows.

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