* Posts by cat_mara

79 posts • joined 27 Jul 2015

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Facebook's at it again: Internal emails show it knew about Cambridge Analytica abuse 'months' before news broke

cat_mara

"Those were two different things"

"I mean, we can barely keep track of the cock-ups in here so it's no surprise you guys are having trouble out there"

TV piracy ring walks the plank after Euro cops launch 14 raids and shutter 11 data centres

cat_mara

Re: whack a mole

It's eye-wateringly expensive because they know you're not going to cancel your subscription

Very much so. My sister complains bitterly about this because she knows my football-addicted nephews would go bananas if she chucked out the Sky box, even though Sky Sports is about the last thing they're subscribed to at this point (though they're getting to an age now where she may be like, "you want it, you pay for it")

It's not just Sky either, mind, who are gouging pricks. I remember back in the days of the Celtic Tiger, the base cable package offered by NTL came with a sports channel (EuroSports, maybe? I am a sports-ignorant) that showed footy matches from one of the African leagues, presumably because they could pick them up on the cheap. Once people realised the standard of football was quite high, they became quite popular-- and that you were getting them anyway at no extra cost didn't hurt either. Also, there were lots of African families working in Ireland at the time because of the Celtic Tiger... anyway, once NTL realised they were actually popular, they vanished of the base package in short order and you had to pay extra for them. Miserable hoors.

Not a great day for Oracle: Top cloud exec jumps ship, analyst recommends cutting shares

cat_mara

I saw an article recently on this-- specifically, it seeks to answer whether "rockstar CEOs" with a string of corroborated successes to their names exist, and if the industry dogma that an MBA is necessary to a CEO's effectiveness holds. TL;DR The answer seems to be, "um, no" to both questions...

cat_mara

Just being able to say "we tried that and it didn't work" can justify someone's salary.

In the case of an Oracle exec, it's more like, "we tried that and it worked like a charm right up until the marks, er, customers realised how much we were ripping them off. So just do it for six months less than that."

Uber driver drove sleeping woman miles away from home to 'up the fare'. Now he's facing years in the clink for kidnapping, fraud

cat_mara
Coat

Re: Are you kidding?

And it's a competitive world...

Thanks, now I'll have "Everything Counts" by Depeche Mode stuck in my head all day.

Mine's the leather bondage vest, ta ...

'Java 9, it did break some things,' Oracle bod admits to devs still clinging to version 8

cat_mara

IME, when people hear the words "Oracle" and "more free" in the same sentence...

... they start wondering what the catch is, or where the sneak licence auditor is hiding...

From hard drive to over-heard drive: Boffins convert spinning rust into eavesdropping mic

cat_mara

Re: I'll file this in the ...

I wouldn't dismiss it altogether, given the number of numpties I've had to work with in the past who were apparently unclear on the whole "indoor voice" thing...

FBI warns of SIM-swap scams, IBM finds holes in visitor software, 13-year-old girl charged over JavaScript prank...

cat_mara
Facepalm

So the Japanese cops...

... are basically arresting this kid for the modern day equivalent of typing

10 PRINT "I AM COOL!"

20 GOTO 10

into a display machine in a computer shop? Blimey, I hope there's a statute of limitations... (looks around nervously, sweats profusely)

Hipster whines at tech mag for using his pic to imply hipsters look the same, discovers pic was of an entirely different hipster

cat_mara

When life imitates "Nathan Barley"

Was he a self-facilitating media node though, yeah?

The first ZX Spectrum prototype laid bare... (What? It was acceptable in the '80s)

cat_mara

I had a friend with a 464 who later upgraded to a 6128. Locomotive did a good job on the CPC BASIC-- no way I was telling him that back then, though ;-) IIRC, Locomotive went on to design the operating environment for the PCW series of word processors for Amstrad which got a lot of tech journo careers off the ground, including some around here, I believe.

cat_mara

Part of the reason for the lethargic BASIC was that Clive, cheap sod that he was¹, refused to give Nine Tiles the time to properly optimise the Spectrum's ROM routines for speed-- given the time & financial constraints, they basically took the ZX-81 ROM & hacked in the colour, sound, hi-res graphics, new tape loading code, etc. on top of what was already there. No mean feat on John Grant's part given the time he was given to do it in, and no disrespect to him, but no wonder the thing runs like a 3-legged dog. It was something I realised years later when I used interpreted BASICs on CP/M machines of similar vintage to the Spectrum and they were much snappier... I'd love to see what could have been done do the BASIC's performance with a bit of tweaking of the ROM code but maintaining the entry points would be tricky.

¹ Then he had the cheek to whine about how his computers weren't taken seriously as business machines, how they were only used for games, after it was his own relentless penny-pinching and nothing else that made them unattractive to the business market! Fucking hypocrite.

Now you've read about the bonkers world of Elizabeth Holmes, own some Theranos history: Upstart's IT gear for sale

cat_mara

Re: Anyone else see a little bit of Charles Manson behind those eyes?

I was thinking the old "Overly Attached Girlfriend" meme was due for refurbishment...

Linus Torvalds pulls pin, tosses in grenade: x86 won, forget about Arm in server CPUs, says Linux kernel supremo

cat_mara

Speaking of those Nike shoes...

... I bet "my left shoe won't even reboot" was a phrase you never expected to see outside of an Onion article, right?

ZX Spectrum Vega+ 'backer'? Nope, you're now a creditor – and should probably act fast

cat_mara

Re: It was worth every penny...

I dunno, I think if I'd wanted to see a big pile of money set on fire, I'd have watched that KLF documentary again. The music was better (no disrespect to Messrs Galway, Follin, Whittaker et al.)

Dratted hipster UX designers stole my corporate app

cat_mara

Re: I'm hoping UX/responsive design is a phase

Sure, 99 times out of 100 the contents of that menu are going to be the same because they are all the same basic top-level actions that most applications support on their associated files¹-- creating a new one, opening an existing one, saving changes, printing, etc. But if you look at the original spec for the CUA (you used to be able to download it from IBM's site though good luck finding it now) the name of the menu was supposed be different depending on the kind of file being edited in that window. It was a minor thing, possibly intended to differentiate the CUA from the Mac HIG which always used "File" as its first menu (though of course the Mac always only had that one shared menu bar at the top), but I don't think it ever got traction. IIRC, even OS/2's Workplace Shell didn't follow it and it kept to the CUA better than most.

¹ Using "file" in the loosest possible sense here, given that CUA and GUIs generally were coming about in the 80s and the height of the object orientation craze when "everything is a file" was fast being superseded by "everything is an object".

cat_mara

Re: I'm hoping UX/responsive design is a phase

Right now I'm looking at a browser that has the classic CUA menus. If I were to click on File I know what to expect because, give or take application-related variations File menus do similar things.

To be nit-picky, a 100% CUA-compliant browser ought not call its first menu item "File" but something like "Page" instead. Because, well, a Web page isn't a file, is it? Originally, AFAIK, all CUA apps were intended to have different top level menus to give you a clue to the kind of object the app manipulated: "Document", "Sheet", etc. But it goes to show how quickly foolish consistencies and cargo-culting creep into these things.

Return of the audio format wars and other money-making scams

cat_mara

Re: SonicStage

Was bloody awful, wasn't it. I had a Sony laptop with a swap-able drive, one of which was a mini disc drive, which was great and in theory made making new discs a lot easier, but the software was atrocious.

It was, wasn't it? I didn't have one but my brother did. The late 90s/ early 00s skin-tastic abortion of a user interface was vomit-inducing enough as it was but I'm surprised it didn't actually have a "Clippy" style avatar of a Sony lawyer in the bottom-right hand corner of the screen going "it looks like you're trying to infringe our intellectual property! Are you? Are you really? Go on then! We dare you!" I swear the room used to fill with the odour of sulphur when he used it as it was. Never have I seen a piece of hardware and software so ruthlessly compromised by its own manufacturer as MiniDisc.

The day the "actually makes stuff" part of Sony goes "right, that's it" and rises up against the "intellectual property" arm that's hamstrung them for decades and guillotines every last rent-seeking parasitical one of them can't co-- oops, wrong forum, sorry.

cat_mara

Re: Not this the?...

Second the recommendation for Techmoan. Someone actually asked him on Twitter once what obscure audio format he'd like to see resurrected and he half-jokingly replied, "a commercial release on Elcaset"... and some nutter went and did it!

Roses are red, this is sublime: We fed OpenAI's latest chat bot a classic Reg headline

cat_mara

Re: The Musky smell of hype.

Sssh, don't blaspheme Neckbeard Jesus or he'll call you a nonce on Twitter or something

cat_mara

Re: gigo

The original data came from Reddit and you are surprised at this?

"But we trained it on r/iamverysmart! Stands to reason it's very smart now, don't it?"

Oh Snapd! Gimme-root-now security bug lets miscreants sock it to your Ubuntu boxes

cat_mara

Re: snapd and systemd

In fairness to systemd (and that's not something you'll hear from me very often), AFAICT this bug is solely in snapd's code and would have been exploitable even if using an old-school System V style init script to start it. The root cause of the bug was in the way snapd determined the privileges of the process calling the service it exposed on the socket which it did by parsing various bits of information passed to it. As Daniel J. Bernstein (§3.3) has pointed out, one needs to be very careful when parsing anything.

LibreOffice 6.2 is here: Running up a Tab at the NotebookBar? You can turn it all off if you want

cat_mara

Re: Font problems - Comic Sans

Comic Neue is much nicer, not that that's saying much.

cat_mara

Re: Backward compatibility

Yes, there is excellent support for old or obscure file formats... LibreOffice grew the ability to import mid-90s ClarisWorks files a few versions back, allowing me to view old university lab reports I had backed on an old Zip disk (!) Reading them I was left struggling with the question of whether I actually ever knew the material or was just blagging it because the intervening years had certainly wiped all knowledge from my brain...

After Amazon's Bezos exposes Pecker, National Enquirer pushes back, promises to probe itself

cat_mara

Re: Who leaked?

Fellow-upholder of the fine tradition of muckraking British journalism, Popbitch¹, has been alleging that it wasn't any shadowy US governmental appendage responsible for leaking the pictures of the, um, appendage in question but Ms. Sanchez' own brother Michael who is apparently chums with the Enquirer editor.

¹ Who have taken time from their usual fare of "who'd win in a fight? Baboon or badger?" to publish some pretty in-depth journalism on the whole Enquirer/ AMI empire and what a shower of sleazy bastards they are. Edit: The first part of the Enquirer stuff is public but the rest is paywalled, alas.

cat_mara

"Viewers of Bezos' pecker also viewed..."

The D in SystemD stands for Danger, Will Robinson! Defanged exploit code for security holes now out in the wild

cat_mara

Re: The upside of open source

is that you can put your money where your mouth is and write your own drop in replacement.

Except, unfortunately, that the systemd developers refuse to commit to a stable API contract against which a drop-in replacement could be written and tested for compliance with the reference implementation. This is what has stymied prior attempts to produce re-engineered versions like uselessd, or get it running on OSes other than Linux. The lack of such a contract, IMO, is one of the main reasons why systemd has become such a crawling horror in the first place.

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

cat_mara

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

cat_mara
Pint

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

cat_mara
Coat

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...

cat_mara

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?

cat_mara

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

cat_mara

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

cat_mara

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

cat_mara
Facepalm

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?

cat_mara

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...

cat_mara
Coat

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

cat_mara

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

cat_mara
Joke

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

cat_mara
Unhappy

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

cat_mara

"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

cat_mara

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

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

cat_mara
Coat

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?

cat_mara
Unhappy

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

cat_mara
Coat

Re: Obvious answer to grammar nazi:

I'll get me mantle...

cat_mara

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

cat_mara

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.

cat_mara

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...

cat_mara

Re: This is serious code bloat

Typical Second System Effect

cat_mara

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

cat_mara

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...

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