* Posts by Steve Channell

72 posts • joined 19 Aug 2014

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AI on Raspberry Pi, Waymo touts robo-rides to Arizonians, and more

Steve Channell
Thumb Up

Google ported it

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/07/25/google_edge_tpu_chip/

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Span hits F#, LinkedIn gets mumbly, and UWP (yes, it's still clinging on) furnished with new toys

Steve Channell
Unhappy

Re: Anti-F#ism?

Functional languages always suffered from the need for larger memory for immutability and all the recursive evaluation, before tail-call-optimisation was properly implemented (JAVA is still a work in progress in this perspective). It is only now that immutability adds more value (through parallelism) than the cost of memory offsets - this is especially so with GPGPU.

If you needed to know how many people are in a queue, imperatively you could stop people joining or leaving - and count them, but that breaks down when people join and leave long queues with contention. Functionally you’d ask the people to add 1 to the number the person behind them had (and 1 it there was nobody) - scale is not an issue and no contention: The imperative approach is always simpler when you don’t really understand the problem

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Revealed: Blueprints to Google's AI FPU aka the Tensor Processing Unit

Steve Channell
Mushroom

Re: @Steve WTF? Tech-Porn is not news

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/07/25/google_edge_tpu_chip

It is kinda pleasing when Google looks at your comments, and goes "yeh, I think he might have a point"

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Steve Channell
Pint

Re: @Steve WTF? Tech-Porn is not news

Google are indeed into self-driving cars, and have been very successful because it is an extension of google maps and streetview with all the heavy lifting done in the Google cloud. This is very good for google because all the telemetry data is uploaded, enabling them to dispense with all those streetview cars going around photographing roads: you get a self-driving car, and they get an unpaid agent.

Nothing wrong with that commercial strategy, but it does not work for public transport (which has to keep going, even if the network is down), doesn’t work for emergencies like Fukashima, doesn’t work for the developing world and doesn’t work for a Mars rover; and stifles investment in wider technology innovations. They could put more smarts at the edge, but we wouldn’t need to give them data.

All smart phones now have multiple processors with low-power processors for telephony/music and faster processors and GPU where more power is needed. A TPU could work like a GPU that switches on for fingerprint, face/voice recognition or video scanning; but stifles investment for innovation unless chip makers can add the technology to a corner of a SoC.

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Steve Channell
Pint

Re: Tech-Porn is not news

Thanks for the tip, the time I spent looking at TensorFlow would probably better spent doing something else.

The idea that a 256*256 8-bit matrix multiplication unit will beat a 4k single precision GPGPU is hardly surprising, but would be news if the advantage scaled up to 32-bit matrix multiplication for BLAS operations. If google put their TPU into self-driving cars (like nVidia are doing) that would be great news to, and we'd all salivate on the potential in a Mars rover, but they are not.

Proprietary hardware that depends on sending your data to an add-slinger stifles the industry because AI needs to move to the edge in phones/cars to be truly useful, but you don’t sell many adverts that way.

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Steve Channell
IT Angle

Tech-Porn is not news

Unless they plan to licence the designs (ala ARM) and allow Universities and competitors to use these chips it really is not news, but Tech Porn. If you plan to add Tech-Porn as a category, why not cover Exxon’s attempts at synthetic petrol.. or some other proprietary tech that has real potential to change the world.

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Google unwraps its gateway drug: Edge TPU chips for IoT AI code

Steve Channell
Pint

Shame they had to wait for Huawei to do it first

A year ago it was tech-porn, now it is developing into something that can really help the world - hopefull CCTV face recognition was not the use-case that tipped them into be open.

google_ai_chips_trounce_intel_nvidia

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Samsung’s new phone-as-desktop is slick, fast and ready for splash-down ... somewhere

Steve Channell
Windows

Re: WIMP

Windows, Icons, Mice, Pull-down-menus.

Desktop mode for a phone is old-hat.. worked just fine on my Lumia 950.. but only used it once: there really is a limited market for PowerPoint presentations from a mobile phone.

Miracast and Bluetooth keyboards make all the cables redundant

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Git365. Git for Teams. Quatermass and the Git Pit. GitHub simply won't do now Microsoft has it

Steve Channell
Unhappy

Source safe extreme

Surely that's just an alias for one that worked for more than a month without having a corruption or one that was corrupt beyond all recognition and needs to be restored from tape

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Microsoft open-sources UI Recorder tool for Windows 10 developers

Steve Channell
Windows

Re: Let's get real

unlike the free usage of hosted TFS for the last eight years?

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Steve Channell

also for drops in the build/est pipeline

Checking in code at the end of the build pipeline is needed for continuous deployment where a test session will be provisioned with a list of TFS tasks (you kinda know where there this is heading) and a VM pre-provisioned with the software that has changed.

When the test pipeline evolves to include multiple stages and/or parallel streams, the binaries need to be versioned in he build/test pipeline as well.

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Now Microsoft ports Windows 10, Linux to homegrown CPU design

Steve Channell
Windows

CPU meets EPIC / GPGPU hybrid

All the talk of running the a soft CPU will be designed to avoid the problems of Itanic which pushed all the parallel logic into compiler but never envisioned multi-core processors that make parallel execution quicker with OS threads than the explicit parallel instructions. Once vendors eventually got hold of silicon and compiler kits it was too late to fix the design flaws in the EPIC design.

Borrowing the GPGPU paradigm of small kernels of code that can be executed in parallel seems like a better approach and Operating systems seem a very good test because each SYSCALL is designed to be atomic.

if it can me made to run effectively, it should provide breathtaking performance

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Microsoft sinks another data centre with Natick 2

Steve Channell
Happy

We all live is a yellow Submarine

Located in international waters this could be the bestest solution to FBI ail request.

Come on folk.. where's the reference to blue screen!

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Linus Torvalds decides world isn’t ready for Linux 5.0

Steve Channell
Gimp

Re: Déjà vu

That was when Word (for DOS), Word (for Xenix) and Mac Word were all brought together for Windows 3.0

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Whoa, Gartner drops a truth bomb: Blockchain is overhyped and top IT bods don't want it

Steve Channell
Facepalm

A small increment on the Luhn formula of 1954

A Checksum is as good an idea now, as it was when the Luhn formula was introduced in the 1950's to prevent transposition errors by fat fingers: It was a key-enabler for the use of electronic computers but was simple enough for mechanical terminals to validate at the point of entry.

We quickly realised that a checksum could be applied to records and blocks to prevent bit-flipping corruption in core memory, tape and disk.. apologies for the primary-school explanation, but we need to be clear, exactly how old and simple the idea really is. The blockchain innovation is to [1] store every transaction forever (tiny compared to a “cat photo”), [2] add the checksum to the next block in the chain (to prevent change), [3] duplicate the chain in loads of places (like RAID-10 + DR).

What is not particularly “innovative” is generating millions of random keys to find one that happens to hash to the same checksum as the whole block.. neat for Iceland where electricity is cheap, but far away from where anybody actually lives.

When all the bitcoins have been mined, the only incentive to maintain it will be with the handful of mega-miners that burn through more electricity hashing than global supply was 50 years ago.. what we in this old-school world call “a central bank”.

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TSB outage, day 5: What do you mean you can't log in? Our systems are up and running. Up and running, we say!

Steve Channell
WTF?

Re: The Post-COBOL Apocalypse Has Arrived!

So, the Java server falls over with EJB errors caused by Spring dynamic instantiation, and dumps unhandled error messages in the browser because of dodgy JavaScript code.. but lets all pile in and kick the COBOL code that works, and stops the money vanishing into suspense accounts.

MicroFocus COBOL has been porting mainframe systems for forty years, and running on .NET Common Language Runtime for twenty years.

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Reg writer Richard went to the cupboard, seeking a Windows Phone...

Steve Channell
Windows

I want you back, I want you back.. for good

I had to switch from my trusted Lumia 950XL because my "work" switch off "GOOD Enterprise" in favor of "Blackberry work" (which has not been ported to Windows Phone). Given the choice of firing up the VPN on the laptop, I bit the bullet and switched to my daughters cast-off Apple 5s.

I quite liked the retro simplicity of the iPhone because it reminded me of Symbian and the days when a "phone" would do one thing at a time and shutdown without a recharge regularly. but was not to last because the pristine phone developed a fault (wouldn’t recognize the SIM). Apples offer of a “complimentary replacement, for just £250” was not very complimentary.

So now I have a 1+5t Android that beeps for no obvious reason (email “tile” never highlights messages), and LIES to me about the weather (the weather “tile” suggests the sun is always shining in London).. but at least I can turn down the heating on my Nest thermostat.

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Stephen Elop and the fall of Nokia revisited

Steve Channell
Unhappy

Re: "Elop's time at Nokia cost him his marriage, don't forget."

Nokia didn’t cost his marriage, incompetent planning and execution cost his marriage. This was the fella that pretended he could commute from Seattle to Finland as part time CEO, part time family man... and failed at both.

The failure of Nokia however is not primarily down to Elop, but an indication that Nokia got-lucky when their 2G phone design lasted all day when Motorola needed spare batteries. Nobody (including Nokia) had realised that a power-saving feature designed for poor Cell coverage in Finland could help in urban areas. When your corporate strategy is ‘get lucky’ it is no wonder political in-fighting wins out.

Pity for poor Nokia is misplaced; they were but a walk-on-part in Steven Sinofsky’s car-crash of Windows 8 “hack off people’s toes, to make them buy our crutches”. WP7 was a great phone, with a couple of limitations {protected memory, single-core} that the NT kernel could fix... turns out, neither were really needed - Apple uses hardware compartments to hack the problem.

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Due to Oracle being Oracle, Eclipse holds poll to rename Java EE (No, it won't be Java McJava Face)

Steve Channell
Windows

Egalitarian Oracle?

Nothing to do with Microsoft, oracle bought Sun to make money from Java

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Steve Channell
Happy

Yava

Yet Another Virtual Architecture, shows progression from JAVA origin (just another virtual architecture)

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Destroying the city to save the robocar

Steve Channell
Facepalm

Re: Obviously the solution is.... Teleportation

If they’re going to invest in something that’s not going to work, they should skip straight to teleportation, and only use physical moving for things that don’t mind going slowly.

Where autonomous vehicle controls will be valuable is for electric car-sharing where they take turns to pop to the charging point in the middle of the night; automatic “take your time” parking and avoiding a driving ban going home drunk (like a Taxi, but you cleanup the ‘spilage’)

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Here come the lawyers! Intel slapped with three Meltdown bug lawsuits

Steve Channell
Flame

Re: We have only intel to blame

When AMD introduced the AMD64 architecture they remapped the segment registers as general purpose registers because nobody was using them anymore... until Google came up with NaCL (that uses segment registers to provide a hardware sandbox).. intel had a chance (with x86-64) to keep one segment register for hardware security support, but they didn't.

The fact the market leading chip designer chose not to support a kernel segment (in future we'll call that hardware support for operating systems) is down to politics... NSA politics.

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Woo-yay, Meltdown CPU fixes are here. Now, Spectre flaws will haunt tech industry for years

Steve Channell
Unhappy

Itanic, S/Z

The two server grade processors that are definitely not effected are by this issue are Itanic and IBM's System/z... Itanic by design (VLIW), and S/z because there are simply better things for a mainframe to do than speculatively execute code + z/os Nucleus is too modular for peripheral stuff like passwords and certificates.

When the dust settles, we should have a long cold look at OS architecture and what modern software design (async + parallel) patterns suggest for alternatives - my view is that monolithic kernels have had their day.

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First iPhone X fondlers struggle to admit that Face ID sort of sucks

Steve Channell
Facepalm

Re: Do you know what works better than Face ID and Touch ID?

Facial recognitions on phones is boring once you get past the humour of people thinking your looking at porno.. I only use the face recognition on on mu Lumia 950 when drunk

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'We think autonomous coding is a very real thing' – GitHub CEO imagines a future without programmers

Steve Channell
Boffin

i can see a world without Ruby or javascript developers!

Almost nobody is using Ruby anymore (and those that are, are spending so much time on performance analysis that C++ looks like a RAD tool) and Javascript (ECMAScript) is being replaced by Typescript.

Unfortunately Inversion of control containers make true dependency very difficult to find and dynamic scripts (e.g. Monkey patching) almost impossible. But that is not what this is about.. It's about "how f*cked am I when someone delists their library from NPM".. if you need to ask.. You already know.

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Microsoft's foray into phones was a bumbling, half-hearted fiasco, and Nadella always knew it

Steve Channell
Windows

Re: Lack of "cool"...

"Cool" had nothing to do with it, Windows Mobile for the Motorola MX200 was better than a nokia feature-phone, but the "pro" version was stupid.

Steve Bollocks insisted the pro experience followed the failed Pocket-PC and required a pen to click through the start menu like a very small PC.

Windows Phone 7 was fine, but trashed by switching the kernel in an attempt to be a better games phone than iPhone.

There is still an opportunity for a very secure smartphone running iOS or Android apps in a sandbox, but there is lots of work to do in Visual Studio before considering whether an NT Kernel can sit at the bottom of the stack

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Java SE 9 and Java EE 8 arrive, 364 days later than first planned

Steve Channell
Unhappy

Don't worry nothing's really changed.

The module system is a major advance but it'll take 10 years for the toolchains to catch up.

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Bill Gates says he'd do CTRL-ALT-DEL with one key if given the chance to go back through time

Steve Channell
FAIL

the RESET key was an Apple idea!

Back then the authors of flaky software were the end-users typing programs into the BIOS BASIC interpreter.. the "operating system" was optional.

Microsoft wanted a reset key on the box like an Apple II (the leading micro at the time), but IBM refused because: [1] the reset button on the Apple was often knocked by accident. [2] IBM terminals didn't have a RESET key.

ctl-alt-dev for Windows NT was the mistake, and used to suggest that NT didn't need a RESET key because it could never hang

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The developers vs enterprise architects showdown: You shall know us by our trail of diagrams

Steve Channell
Meh

no showdown

Very amusing article, but fails to nail the two core issues for a showdown

1. Creating excellent systems is hard, especially Complex and/or Realtime systems. The more layers, more integrations, more sponsors, the greater the need to communicate design early on in the cycle when cost of change is lower.

2. Incompetent people will find something to do, rather than finishing the job. The closer to the metal, the more difficult it is to hide.

It’s an easy mistake to strip down the Software Design process like a Daytona track car, when the design problem is the same as it was when Fred Brooks wrote the mythical man month – productivity.

The DevOps approach improves the productivity of developers, and can be applied to Architecture through code generation and automated reverse engineering. Arch-Ops is the next phase not an alternative

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Oracle caves, promises to crack open Java EE as v8 crawls ever closer

Steve Channell
Pint

ha ha ha ha ha hz ha ha ha ha ha

Didn't you know JNI was due to be replaced "when time allows"...

I coined a management rule "no new project should take longer to implement than a new human life": The Java version extends from birth, through to University graduation: 20 years later Java has still not implemented a proper Application Binary Interface.

The Java retort to "rewrite everything in Java" is laughable in an age where the only use Java will make of GPGPU is speeding up Garbage collection

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Q. What's today's top language? A. Python... no, wait, Java... no, C

Steve Channell
Pint

Proof of Fermat's last theorem used infinite sets

Whilst you could not computationally prove the theorem using infinite sets, its worth mentioning that {C#, C++, Python} together with every functional language (except Scala) supports infinite sets, Java does not.. which is good.. Java (lacking tail call optimisation) would fall over randomly with a stack overflow (differently on every machine - develop anywhere, debug everywhere)

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Steve Channell
Pint

Re: I suspect there are quite a few Java devs out there

Given that the PYPL measure is for google searches (heavily skewed by JavaDoc), it is not unreasonable to conclude that a large number of Java developers need help getting through the day.

The Redmonk score looks more interesting, though I'm note sure c# "async execution of a Linq closure" compared to Java's "which Date class is best" or Python's "why is 5 + 1 sometimes 6 or 51" is a fair comparison

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SQL Server 2017's first rc lands and – yes! – it runs on Linux

Steve Channell
Pint

Win32 API is not a legacy

SQL/Server heavily uses scatter/collect async IO that does not have a consistent API across Linux filesystems.. just because they've documented Drawbridge does mean Oracle does not have an equivalent.. they do.

The reason for the Linux release is for Docker containerisation, not specifically for Linux servers. Expect to see Drawbridge used with other Microsoft Server software.. before it is open-sourced when Windows Server Hyper-V is ready for containerisation prime-time

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The biggest British Airways IT meltdown WTF: 200 systems in the critical path?

Steve Channell

low availability cluster

This sounds scarily like a standard blue print for a service oriented architecture gone horribly wrong. in financial markets it was common for "tib-storms" to crash a broadcast network with re-requests to sync topics, but capacity, tiering and investment addressed it.

My money is on a panic'd recovery - like the RBS CA7 debacle.

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BA IT systems failure: Uninterruptible Power Supply was interrupted

Steve Channell
Facepalm

A low availability cluster

My bet would be that a cluster failover was initiated by the power failure, then fail-back manually triggered, but the primary site failing again with power surge starting the secondary systems. With a manual failback an engineer would be needed to failover again and not just a bargain basement operator.

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What's got a vast attack surface and runs on Linux? Windows Defender, of course

Steve Channell

the DLL loader is the story, not the usecase

Dynamic link libraries provide a function table of explicitly exported functions to be at run time, where *nix uses shared objects. As a API library developer a dll enables me to hide private functions that are exposed in a .so file. The DLL export is simpler than the pimpl pattern for API development.

The news here is not that Windows defender has been "ported" but that DLLs are being loaded without WINE.

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It's 30 years ago: IBM's final battle with reality

Steve Channell
Happy

Re: Interesting times

Lets try not to forget that Microsoft only got the PC-DOS gig after pitching Microsoft port of AT&T Unix (Xenix) for IBM's Personal Computer. It is also worth mentioning that Windows was initially developed on Xenix and ported to DOS after initial testing.

Had it not been for IBM, the world would be.... pretty much as it is now

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Reg now behind invisible HTML5 Bitcoin paywall

Steve Channell
Thumb Up

Uncanny Predictor of the future

I remember El Reg stories about MS Linux and Visual Studio on Linux (both on 1st April), turning out to be true. I'm going to stop clicking on the adverts just to generate fees :'-)))

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Google Spanner in the NewSQL works?

Steve Channell

When Data is Immutable the problem is simpler

The classis problem with distributed relational databases occur when attempting to update the same row in two locations. Heterogeneous distributed systems have to deal with consistency at the application level when ATM cash withdrawals happen at the same time as e-commerce, e-banking, batch and branch transactions. It turns out that replicating immutable transactions avoids many of the needs for ACID updates.

Spanner is a great example of what can be achieved when you have control over a dedicated network, but so is Teradata, Netezza, Exdata, SQL/Server PDW.

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The wait is over ... Nokia's BACK!

Steve Channell

Re: Nokia

The defining characteristic of a "Nokia phone" was clever software to make the battery last twice as long as the Market leader with exceptional call quality and text messaging.

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Microsoft ❤️ Linux? Microsoft ❤️ running its Windows' SQL Server software on Linux

Steve Channell

Re: SQL Server 7 was a re-write

All DBMS bypass the filesystem cache for fast non-blocking asynchronous IO. The Linux asi_write and writev glib functions either do async or scatter/gather, but not both. MS added both to NTFS for SQL/Server (much to the announce of Oracle).

Granted Linux syscalls are lighter than NT, but list-IO still as advantaged.. which is why Oracle still recommends RAW volumes .

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Steve Channell
Happy

SQL Server 7 was a re-write

SQL/Server 7 was a modular re-write separating the transaction coordinator, parser/optimizer and execution engine. The Sybase cooperative threading model (it wasn’t multi-threaded until much later) was moved into NT Fibres for lightweight work units. Later versions of Windows introduced list-IO to bunch collect and scatter IO operations together to reduce kernel switching.

A picokernel of some sort would be needed because Linus wouldn’t allow these kernel extension in Linux.

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‘Andromeda’ will be Google’s Windows NT

Steve Channell
Windows

Open NT

This won't kill Windows but may bring forward the day that MS Open-Sources the Windows Kernel.

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Rise of the Machines at Sea: The British firm building robot boats

Steve Channell
Black Helicopters

Submarine tracker

Ballistic missile and hunter killer submarines work on the premise that it is difficult to find a boat in the vastness of the oceans, but that is all about to change with this technology because submarine ports aren’t vast.

Once you’ve found a sub, it is cheaper to drop a small roboat on the surface to track it where ever it moves. Doesn’t need any weapons because you rarely need to actually sink subs and that bit is easy when you know where they are. When the price drops, you can just drop a ring of roboats around the ports to pick up subs when they leave port.

Expect to see stories about lots of ocean mapping in the south China Sea

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Double-negative tweet could be Microsoft Surface Phone hint

Steve Channell
Windows

They'll need an OS first!

I'm sure the Surface Phone will be a great bit of kit, but they haven't got an OS to run on it. Windows 10 is still a Mistress beta (you pay to be punished), ObjectiveC/LLVM/emulation is not ready in Visual Studio, CyanogenMod is probably not ready, and the old Lumia Denim OS doesn't run snapchat.

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Classic Shell hackers: We infected FossHub so ransomware couldn't (and yeah, also for fun)

Steve Channell
Mushroom

I blame Microaoft

Classic shell is an "essential" piece of the Windows 8 Operating System, that Microsoft cant be arsed to ship. I always resented having to install classic shell and was a major reason for Reinstalling Windows 7 on a touch computer

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Intel's Knights Landing lands

Steve Channell
Happy

Threading model is the biggest difference

Consider a simulation of a Sterling interest rate swap, with Brexit (with the expected Sovereign credit rating downgrade from AAA) in 40% of scenarios the trade wouldn’t last the year (downgrade trigger) before being unwound.

A GPGPU kernel would have 40% of the cores waiting while all the non-brexit scenarios calculated risk through to maturity because of hardware threading; whereas a Xeon Phi would schedule work to all threads for the 60% of cases that don’t terminate early. NVidia is much better for physics, while Xeon Phi is better for behaviour.

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Microsoft releases open source bug-bomb in the rambling house of C

Steve Channell
Pint

C is an applications programming language

The whole of C/UNIX started from a requirement for a typesetting system, it's just that the app language C appeared so fast and efficient that they didn't need assembler for the OS..

Fast forward ten years, and everyone noticed that C was better than Intel's PL/M.

It is good to see MS returning to an Engineering outfit (they introduced far* for 8086 segments) with ptr<> array_ptr<> and span<> formalising the CRT convention that the WORD prior to the malloc pointer contains the length of the allocated buffer.

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Microsoft has created its own FreeBSD image. Repeat. Microsoft has created its own FreeBSD image

Steve Channell

Re: Embrace, Extend, Extinguish...

Microsoft Xenix had BSD compounds 30 years ago. For the first 10 years, that Microsoft was doing Hotmail it ran on Freebsd. Microsoft.net was the Built on freebsd and distributed in the Rotar shared source version.

Suggesting it's about E.E.E, is lazy nonsense.

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Sparkling new Spark distribution spurs MapR to reduce MapReduce

Steve Channell
Facepalm

back to the future

Who'd have thought that the replacement for Hadoop would be so much like what we used to call a DataBase Management System with an SQL query language, at this rate uniqueness and indexes will come back to in just a few short years.

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