* Posts by cat_mara

53 posts • joined 27 Jul 2015


The D in SystemD stands for Dammmit... Security holes found in much-adored Linux toolkit


Re: "much adored" ?

I think they misspelled "abhorred"... at least, that's my theory

This is the final straw, evil Microsoft. Making private GitHub repos free? You've gone too far


Re: As ever

Steve Bulmer? Shurely shome mishtake?

(Now imagining ads for Ballmer's Cider: makes you run about like a madman, terrible hangover...)

I'm just not sure the computer works here – the energy is all wrong


Re: nothing sucks like a VAX

What, no love for DCL then?

OK, "love" is a bit strong. Does "grudging toleration" count? Or "thank Christ it's not DOS batch language"? The quoting rules were a scrote though. And having to start every line with a $ sign. And...

Mines the one with the big orange "Digital Command Language Quick Reference" ring binder in the pocket...


Re: No interference?

Ken Shirfiff's blog at righto.com is good for that sort of thing too. His teardown of USB chargers is sobering stuff, some of the units he looked at, even from those you'd consider reputable suppliers, had more ripple than a Mr. Whippy van. And some of the counterfeit eBay jobs were out-and-out fire hazards.

New Horizons probe reveals Ultima Thule is huge, spinning... chicken drumstick?


Re: In a better future ...

... or the butt-plug of Galactus :-P

Slap for Slack chat app after US, Canada chaps zapped in Iranian IP address map whack


Re: Weaponizing potential

Yes, but then Slack's hipster coders would be obliged to learn a real grown-up language, you unthinking monster

Dutch boyband hopes to reverse Brexit through the power of music


Re: Brussels is evil I tell you!

"I know this because they invented sprouts."

You know, you might be on to something there regarding the EU and the Brexit vote. It can't have helped many Britons' view of the EU that they had to suppress a tiny shudder of revulsion every time they heard "Brussels" mentioned in news bulletins and frightful visions of grey, watery pellets of awfulness from Christmas dinners of yore swam before their inner eye.

It's official. Microsoft pushes Google over the Edge, shifts browser to Chromium engine


The main reason I didn't use Edge

... was not any perceived deficiency in its rendering engine (it seemed adequate the brief times I've used it) but because its developers had, in the name of "minimalism", pared back its user interface to the point of outright hostility. Pulling stunts like taking the "back" and "forward" items off the context menu where they've been in every browser since Mosaic & where over 2 decades of muscle memory tells me they are-- ooh, how Edge-y! I'm sure there's an extension in the Windows Store to put them back but, frankly, why bother? Might as well just download another browser that isn't cargo-culting its user experience to this extent-- yes, they all do it, but this is taking the Michael to whole new levels.

Now, they're moving to the Blink rendering engine but promising to keep the same hostile UI?! Talk about comically missing the point.

Giraffe hacks printers worldwide to promote God-awful YouTuber. Did we read that one right?


Mind you...

... I'm really loving how the "IT tabloid" ambience of El Reg has been improved by this influx of Speak You're Branes-level of commenter. I can't imagine a more hilarious level of offended stuffiness than if, say, the Daily Mail ran an article about Jeremy Corbyn curling one out on a giant poppy or something...


Don't any of these PewDiePie stans[1]...

... know how to use a bloody comma?! Weren't you issued any when you picked this hill (OK, minor elevation. OK, molehill) to die on? You poor dears. Here you go, knock yourselves out: ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

[1] See? I know the lingo of the youths! I'm still with it! Sigh, I'm not with it, am I? Mine's the one with The Complete Plain Words in the pocket...

Facebook's CEO on his latest almighty Zuck-up: OK, we did try to smear critics, but I was too out-of-the-loop to know


Schrödinger's CEO

CEOs: Well, of course I have to be paid an obscene multiple of our other employees' salaries-- the buck stops with me, you know! I take the risks! It's my ass on the line if the company is found to have done anything improper!

Also CEOs: Boo hoo, I didn't know what was going on; honestly, how can anyone be expected to stay on top of everything around here?! That money was just resting in my account etc etc

Just one Corretto, give it to me... AWS brews its own blend of Java with free long-term support


Garbage collection supported?

"BREAKING NEWS: Beta users of Amazon's off-brand not-Java Corretto were last night disturbed to learn that the language does not feature garbage collection.

"A touted feature of the language since its inception in the 90s, garbage collection automatically reclaims Java objects when they no longer referenced, freeing developers from micro-managing storage lifetimes and avoiding the hard-to-find memory leaks that often plagues code written in languages like C and C++, according to its proponents.

"However, users running their Java programs under the Corretto runtime found that they eventually ran out of memory and crashed.

"'We regard garbage collection as something akin to a software bathroom break,' an Amazon spokesperson declared, 'and therefore bad for productivity. So we decided not to include this feature in our implementation of not-Java.'

"Instead, Amazon have instead proposed that objects 'ask their manager' if they can go to the garbage collector in much the same way as their warehouse employees have to ask to use the bathroom. This will be implemented as a new function, Foreman Request Excretory Excursion or free() for short, to be implemented as a new method on the java.lang.Object class.

"More news as we get it...

I found a security hole in Steam that gave me every game's license keys and all I got was this... oh nice: $20,000


Re: What century is this?!

Being Irish, I sometimes hear friends saying, "well, I tried to sign up to [site] the other day but it didn't work. I wonder what's up." A moment later I twig their surname is O'Connor or O'Brien or something and they've probably just inadvertently SQL-injected the sign-up page and I smile a little. A moment after em I realise a) this is the 21st bloody century and why are there still SQL injection attacks, and b) sometimes it's an Irish site. Then I have to go somewhere quiet for a bit until the urge to break things subsides

Bill Gates joined on stage by jar of poop as he confesses deep love for talking about toilets


"Bill Gates joined on stage by jar of poop"

So what are they calling this one? "Windows 10 Mr. Hanky Christmas Update"?

ZX Spectrum reboot scandal man sits on Steve Bannon design tech shindig committee


The opening of a new quicklime pit, on the other hand...

Clunk, bang, rattle: Is that a ghost inside your machine?


Is that a ghost inside your machine?

... or are you just pleased to see me. Eh? Eh?

Fine. I'll get me shroud...

Erm... what did you say again, dear reader?


Don't get me started on the "inkhorners" that decided "iland" needed an "s" or "dett" a "b" just because Latin had them...


Re: Obvious answer to grammar nazi:

I'll get me mantle...


Wittgenstein, eh?

Handbags pokers at dawn it is!

I'm failing to see what a famously short-tempered 20th century Austrian philosopher has to do with it.

Memo to Microsoft: Windows 10 is broken, and the fixes can't wait


An inevitable outcome...

... of accumulating technical debt and political in-fighting within Microsoft.

A story: some years ago I was working for a consulting firm that was helping a healthcare company do a Microsoft Dynamics CRM rollout (note: I'm not a Dynamics CRM guy, my role on this was limited to getting some data out of the company's existing customer database into some custom fields in the thing). The Dynamics CRM instance was in the cloud which meant a federated Azure ActiveDirectory setup so single sign-on worked; also, because the company's Exchange servers were still on-premises and Dynamics CRM offers a facility where incoming emails are scraped for potential leads, this involved some complex orchestration between all the moving parts, but Microsoft even offered a little piece of "gateway" software specifically for this use-case to route your mails back out of your on-premises Exchange server to the cloud. Simples, right? Every single piece of the puzzle (Exchange, ActiveDirectory, Dynamics CRM, Azure, the little "gateway" thing whose name I forget) was made and supported by Microsoft. What could go wrong?

Reader, it was like pulling teeth. It was as brittle as hell. The little "gateway" had no documentation to speak with and was obviously some stopgap tool some poor Microsoft bod had cooked up under duress. Thanks to the political siloing within Microsoft, its failure to work was of course Someone Else's Problem™ whoever you happened to be speaking to at the time. It was hinted the problem might go away if you just moved your Exchange servers along with the rest of your IT infrastructure into Azure, Access or American Express that'll do nicely sir or ma'am hem hem. At one point, it all started to work and then the IT guys in the company pushed a Group Policy update that made it sulk for two days until it sprang into life again. Don't ask me what they did, maybe they sacrificed a goat or something.

This is Microsoft in microcosm. They often get stick for building monolithic products (look how long it took, for example, for the "WinMin" initiative to deliver a Windows kernel that could boot without the GUI) in their desire to suck you into having to cross-licence their stuff but under the surface it's a mess of sullen little fiefdoms who barely talk to one another because That Lot Over There took all the nice sodas out of our team fridge ten years ago (people who've worked in Microsoft know this isn't a joke) and We're Never Speaking To Them Again. Even the FOSS people when they aren't examining each others' backsides for who has the most truly open orifice co-operate more. People who want to change things for the better get bogged down in the politics and the organisational morass, like this rant that went viral a few years ago about the organisational inertia that paralysed what should have been a relatively trivial element in the Windows UI.


Re: I stopped right here...

Yes, I think their conclusions are on shaky ground.

"QA still exists and is still important, but it performs end-user style 'real world' testing, not programmatic automated testing. This testing has been successful for Bing, improving the team's ability to ship changes without harming overall software quality,"

An equally valid conclusion is that Bing's overall quality is unaffected by the kind of testing carried out. See turds, and the efficacy of polishing same.

SQLite creator crucified after code of conduct warns devs to love God, and not kill, commit adultery, steal, curse...


Re: This is serious code bloat

Typical Second System Effect


Joking aside, I thought that code-of-conduct post was... unworthy of drh. He is responsible for so much good software — not just SQLite, but Fossil (which I secretly prefer to git but, shh, don't tell anyone) and its ancestor cvstrac which I still use on some old personal project, among many others — which he has released under very generous licencing conditions. It comes across as smug and dismissive like, you know, that Pharisee in the parable praying ostentatiously in the synagogue, "cheers, God, for not making me like the rest of these losers!"

Silent running: Computer sounds are so '90s


Re: Oh Gawd...

I wonder if that was related at all to the macOS Classic extension that made Oscar the Grouch pop out of the bin and sing a song when you selected the "Empty Trash" menu item...

Microsoft liberates ancient MS-DOS source from the museum and sticks it in GitHub


Re: And let's not even talk about mobile keyboards

Agreed. I attribute the resurgence in the popularity of vim among developers at least partly to the fact that no two laptop manufacturers can seem to agree on where to put the cursor movement keys...

Google is 20, Chrome is 10, and Microsoft would rather ignore the Nokia deal's 5th birthday


Re: It wasn't just apps

Very much this. As Charles Petzold, the author of what was the "Bible" for Windows programming for much of the 90s once pointed out, there are examples from the Windows 1 SDK that can still be built and run on the most modern versions of Windows (nothing that requires e.g., file I/O as Windows 1.x still needed DOS APIs for that but window management, message processing, resources, etc. are all present and correct and largely unchanged). I don't think there is no any UI toolkit still in widespread use that could boast this.


Re: Maybe...

IMO, Nokia killed Symbian, Meego/ Maemo et al. through managerial cowardice and a "fight it out amongst yourselves" mentality. Microsoft only turned up and delivered the mercy blow.


Re: Maybe...

How was the 30% cut a problem, since not only Apple but also Google was and is taking a 30% cut? You thought Microsoft should be the low price player in this game?

Why not? Most commentators seem to agree that at least one factor in Microsoft's success at convincing developers to choose Windows over OS/2 back in the 80s was that the Windows SDK was freely available where'd you had to pay IBM for the privilege of developing for OS/2. Wintel has always been the "low price player" but it seems they were happy to let Android/ARM take tthat off them...



... if Microsoft hadn't been such greedy sods in demanding the same 30% cut as Apple did for entry to their app store, Windows Phone might have stood more of a chance. Or if they hadn't ended up appearing so weak by having to pay devs to develop apps for it. Or if they hadn't tied developing Windows Phone apps to a forced upgrade to Windows 8 whether you wanted to or not. Or if they'd curated their app store better to keep the fart apps out. Or...

Nadella can play the "well, it wasn't my idea" card as hard as he likes and claim that markets always tend to converge on two dominant players anyway, but the fact is that Windows Phone didn't have to fail quite as hard as it did. That's all down to the pathological political situation that prevailed in Microsoft in the latter years of Ballmer's tenure and which still hasn't been fully resolved: witness the mass exodus of talent into the cloud services arm of the company in search of shiny things leaving the OS and desktop applications sides of the business apparently bereft of all adult supervision.

Gitpod git-bolts git-IDE onto GitHub for in-browser code git-editing


"Based on Theia, an open source cloud-and-desktop IDE developed by Ericsson, IBM, TypeFox and RedHat, Gitpod can be invoked by prefixing a GitHub URL with "https://gitpod.io#" or using a Chrome browser extension.

"Gitpod runs in a cloud-based Kubernetes container using a Docker image that can be customized with user-specified tools. It will check out the appropriate version of file being examined in the IDE and, when working on a GitHub issue, it will create a git branch and set the commit message. If launched from a pull request, it activates code review mode."


What do I win, then?

Fourth 'Fappening' celeb nude snap thief treated to 8 months in the clink


Pics or it didn't happe-- oh, wait...

... that's what got them in this mess in the first place, isn't it? Ahem.

8 months and 3 years probation just because he had to see fuzzy cam-phone images of Ms Lawrence's norks? My heart bleeds. I, on the other hand, was able to see them, 30 feet tall and covered merely by a thin layer of blue paint, courtesy of my local multiplex. It's a funny old world, innit...

Microsoft Visual Studio C++ Runtime installers were built to fail


FWIW, RPM files can contain executable content in their %install section; see the RPM spec file reference. The thing is that installation scenarios are always going to require executable content of some kind, whether that's something relatively innocuous like creating new directories or something more involved like updating the Registry or driver database.

Re: using .ZIP or some other publicly-documented format. Yes, the problem with MSI files is that, being a proprietary format, it is woefully underdocumented and very few tools exist that can read them (I know of one, LesMSI). Usually, you can use the msiexec command-line tool to force a network install which will spit out the files but that won't get you the registry settings or anything else.


I would be happy if...

... Microsoft were capable of shipping a version of the C++ runtime that didn't crap a lot of READMEs, localisation files and other debris into the root directory of my system volume when I installed the bloody thing. Seriously, what sort of amateur-hour bullshit is this?

ReactOS 0.4.9 release metes out stability and self-hosting, still looks like a '90s fever dream


Better a 90s fever dream...

... than a UI that looks like a whiteboard mockup pressed into use. TIFKAM is cargo-cult UI at its worst. When it was announced, Microsoft made a big song-and-dance about how much they were inspired by Adrian Fruitiger's signage for Charles de Gaulle airport (to the point where Linotype threatened to sue them over alleged similarities between their Fruitiger typeface and Segoe; see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Segoe#Licensing_controversy), but what on Earth has a design for low-information-density signage seen from a distance got to do with high-information-density screens seen from up close?! TIFKAM is a low-information-density design language, a design language for managers used to seeing things on presentations and "dashboards", not for (God help me) information workers. It's the politician's syllogism as Seagull Manager's Syllogism (looking at you, Sinofsky, you demented slaphead): the Windows look & feel is dated so we need to do something; TIFKAM is something; we will do TIFKAM.

(Disclaimer: I may still have a paper copy of the "The Windows Interface Guidelines For Software Design: Covers Windows 95 And Windows NT 4!" on my bookshelf. It's a wonderful bit of software archaeology that I think was available at some point for download from the Microsoft web site)

'Clive, help us,' say empty-handed ZX Spectrum reboot buyers


"Please allow 28 days for Sir Clive's response"

Windows Update borks elderly printers in typical Patch Tuesday style


Re: Dot Matrix, that takes me back.

"Instead of the daisywheel's machine gun fire, my colleagues were treated to a sort of nightmare giant mosquito whine."

When I started work, dot matrix printers were still quite common and were often enclosed in foam-lined boxes in an attempt to cut down that mosquito whine. Within a few more years, though, they were replaced entirely by cheap laser printers and they vanished into the Great Skip in the Sky, baffle-boxes and all. Within a few more years, the laser printers had mutated into great eleventy-page-per-minute brutes that made a noise like a Concorde jet engine warming up. Should've hung onto those baffle-boxes...

Splunk prototyping DevOps efficiency measurement tool


'Mann said...

... the tool is “a Docker container in a private HitHub repo that contains Splunk Enterprise, Kenkins, SonarQube and a whole bunch of sample data, data normalisation and visualisations.”

'Then, its entire payload of buzzwords deployed, the empty skin fluttered around the room making a sad parping noise like a deflating balloon. We made our excuses and left.'

AMD, Intel hate Nvidia so much they're building a laptop chip to spite it


Both Chipzilla and mini-Chipzilla are keeping quiet...

Chipzilla and Chipzuki, shurely?

Has Git ever driven you so mad you wanted to bomb it? Well, now you can with this tiny repo


Re: Bottoms Up

Yes, I think that a lot of the problems people have with Git is that a lot of the documentation-- including some of Git's own-- tries to view Git through the "lens" of other version control systems, and this only ends up making you more confused. When I read "Git From The Bottom Up", I was like, "that's how it works?! Alrighty then!" Of course, people will show off and do scary stuff with git rebase because they can but I'm pretty sure those people will find other ways to balls things up even without tools like Git.

The one thing I would say about Git is that it's never lost data on me. It's tied itself in knots trying to convince me it's gone, data, dunno what you're talking about, mate, but if you hold it down and threaten to torture its nipples (using the poorly documented git torture-nipples command), it's usually more forthcoming...

Dark web souk AlphaBay outage: Users fear they've been scammed


What's the world coming to, eh?

I'm shocked, *shocked* that the admins of an illegal marketplace would do a bunk with the loot!

GitHub: We're sorry (again) about (another) outage


Re: Surely..


Git is not CVS nor is it Subversion.


I agree, but a lot of developers don't understand this, particularly if they came into work one morning and their team lead goes, "oh, btw, we migrated from SVN to git over the weekend". That is, they replace the old centralised VCS product but retain a centralised workflow. There is a tendency, I think, to do git migrations because it is fashionable or because of some perceived benefit ("OMG, we can branch now!") without really investigating the benefits that a distributed VCS will give you. I would not call myself a git expert by any stretch but I only really began to grok it when I stopped looking at it through the "lens" of a centralised VCS model.

Gov must hire 'thousands' of techies to rescue failing projects


The Mythical Man Month

I took down "The Mythical Man Month" from my shelf to lend to someone recently and realised that it is over 40 years old now. Then I cried a bit.

Which tech stocks are suffering and – crucially – why?


Re: Atlassian?

That's what I'm saying. While JIRA, Bamboo, HipChat and friends may not be the "best of breed", at least they're concrete products with real user bases. Better than an overhyped tatmonger like Etsy.



That's kind of disturbing. While I'm no great fan of their products, at least they make something. Mutter mutter Etsy mutter mutter bloody glorified jumble sale mutter...

Would sir care to see the post-pub nosh menu?



A true masterpiece! Brought a tear to my eye.

Next, "The Register's Guide To Filling One's Neck, Post-Pub: The Book"! Too bad you didn't have it ready for Christmas...

Eric S Raymond releases hardened, slimmer NTP beta


Re: OpenNTP?

Or Poul-Henning Kamp's Ntimed?

(Insert old saw concerning the wonderful thing about standards here...)

Microsoft Band 2 wrist watchers in pay-first-ship-much-later rage


Kids today...

Remembering the 80s, and Sinclair Research's rather liberal interpretation of "allow 28 days for delivery", this seems positively mild by comparison...

Facebook brings creepy ’Minority Report’-style ads one step closer


It's all well and good (er, probably not) Facebook collecting all this data but the fact of the matter is, if my targeted ads are anything to go by, the only search expression used by advertisers seems to be: if (relationshipStatus == "single"). It's the only explanation for the never-ending torrent of "meet [ethnicity] singles" ads that adorn my Facebook sidebar.

Megaupload extradition: Rotund web baron Kim Dotcom appears in court


"Not gaining anywhere near as much attention, though, are his three former colleagues who are also under extradition charges: Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann, and Bram van der Kolk."

Which is a pity, really, as "Finn Batato" is up there with "Hotblack Desiato" as one of the most awesome names, ever.

Stop taking drug advice from Kim Kardashian on Twitter, sighs watchdog


Re: Drugs for morning sickness...

"Remember Sam Fox and the slimming tea?"

I'm afraid not, but do you mean to say that El Reg passed up a chance to namedrop both Kim Kardashian AND Sam Fox in the same article?!

I am disappoint. "IT tabloid" indeed...


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