* Posts by steelpillow

559 posts • joined 16 Jun 2016


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

steelpillow Silver badge

Wrong way round

It's not the lack of workstations holding back the development of severs, it's the lack of servers holding back the development of workstations. Why bother, if there are **** all servers to code for? Once the servers are out there, the workstations will follow.

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Well currently the problem with ARM is not the CPU

The situation has in theory improved, with much standardization effort brewing among ARM system designers. But of course technology advances invariably carry the goal posts with them.

The problem reflects in the poor availability of ARM workstations. They do exist but their OS are usually crippled by cash-strapped lack of polish - be it ARM Linux or native RISC OS - so few professionals want to know. And you have to know where to look. Although, given the continuing Microsoft work on porting Windows to ARM, that could soon change.

If you are a frustrated ARM developer out there, my suggestion to you would be to take time out from unfriendly penguinistas who bite your fingers and see whether the newly open-sourced RISC OS has an appetite for your particular herring.

Twilight of the sundials: Archaic timepiece dying out and millennials are to blame, reckons boffin

steelpillow Silver badge

Will somebody get those trolls outta here?

Perhaps ironically for this item, spherical geometry is a non-Euclidean geometry. However the science of sundials is in fact a branch of projective geometry, which is different again, being classed as neither Euclidean nor non-Euclidean (mathematicians - don'ch'a love 'em?). We have Euclid to thank for his geometry, the likes of Gauss, Bolyai and Lobackevski for the existence of the non-Euclidean, and a whole shedload of brains culminating in von Staudt and Klein for the projective formulation. That a fellow philosopher from my old College should not make this clear must surely be down to the work of trolls.

How's this for sci-fi: Orbiting probes face fiery death dive from planet's radiation belts. And that planet is Earth

steelpillow Silver badge

"We'll need a good realtime method to identify how high the atmosphere reaches and the density to make use of the margins involved.

"Sub-orbital hypersonic research vehicles would be better suited to this.

Not really. We already know the physical characteristics of the atmosphere. They can also be readily calculated from the orbital decay. What we know less about is its effect on spacecraft structures, because that situation normally lasts only briefly and the evidence promptly gets destroyed. A sub-orbital craft would, by definition, not travel fast enough to provide comparable data.

steelpillow Silver badge

At orbital speeds, the craft ionizes the air so that it is passing through a hot and corrosive plasma. This will particularly affect protuberances such as antennae. Given the economic importance of low Earth orbits, finding out how low you can go, and for how long, is surely worth doing.

Airbus will shutter its A380 production line from 2021

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Optimal Sizes

For a hundred years, the optimum number of engines on a large long-range transport has been four. The optimum size has been rather larger than four of the latest and greatest engines could deliver. Every generation, the size of the biggest planes has been driven by the size of the biggest engines that technology could provide.

Talk of foolish "gigantism" and suchlike is utter bollocks: Airbus got caught out by the sudden and unpredictable end of a century-long trend.

Boeing did not drop out of the race because they believed it was senseless, they dropped out because Airbus beat them in both pace and government subsidies. If the widebody twin market had not been ripe for a new generation, Boeing would have had no Plan B.

Sooner or later, something similar is going to happen with silicon wafer size.

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Just to big to win

R-R are in fact in pole position for the twin-engine boom. They sell more pairs of Trents into that than they ever sold quad sets for the A380, and I am sure they have no intention of going to sleep.

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Turns out Airbus was the silly one

Not silly, unlucky (see roulette post above). Would you have predicted back then that so many countries and airlines would develop lower-capacity direct flights to secondary airports, to such an extent that when the banking and global warming crises hit, demand for primary routes would actually reduce? You would have? Oh, check your pants, I think they are on fire.

Take your pick: Linux on Windows 10 hardware, or Windows 10 on Linux hardware

steelpillow Silver badge

So Windows runs better on a Pi than a smartphone now? There must be a lesson for somebody in that somewhere, but thankfully I never go near the ****** OS.

Object-recognition AI – the dumb program's idea of a smart program: How neural nets are really just looking at textures

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: "It's fake smart."

"My instinct is that this should have been obvious from the mathematics underlying CNN's. Yet apparently no one picked it up.

"Or was it that people did, but hoped no one would notice?"

Oh, I think the average CNN researcher's public persona is too fake smart for them to have really picked up on this sort of thing. It will take an army of them several years to figure out the bleedin' obvious. Well, I give it 2-5 years before they grasp the scale of the chasm between current AI and general intelligence.

Funny that, when I say "several years" like that it sounds overly unkind, yet when I suggest that we might see general intelligence in 5-10 years it seems overly optimistic. What we really need to do is to figure how an AI can tell its arse from its elbow - which is hard if we can't either.

Is this a wind-up? Planet Computers boss calls time on ZX Spectrum reboot firm

This post has been deleted by a moderator

LibreOffice patches malicious code-execution bug, Apache OpenOffice – wait for it, wait for it – doesn't

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: The exploit was tested on Windows but should work on Linux

LOL. Icon to erase hurt.

UK.gov told: If you want public to trust surveillance cam strategy, throw money and manpower at it

steelpillow Silver badge

The elephant in the room

Smartphone cams owned by members of the public are ubiquitous, and they all feed the global ID/geolocation commercial sausage machine. There is little point in privacy restrictions on fixed cams, that cannot also be enforced on personal mobile devices.

The outfit where the NHS England Digital boss is headed? Turns out their code is 'not technically suitable' for the £6.4m NHS App

steelpillow Silver badge

Judged unsuitable

She must be feeling absolutely livi'ed.

Register Lecture: Can big science keep up with discovery?

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Look at decay mechanism

"The claim is that properties from X are transferred to Y via unknown magic called quantum entanglement.

Err, no. Properties from X are transferred to Y via very well known conservation laws.

P.S. X ceases to exist when Y forms, there is nothing left for it to entangle with.

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Did they even make mass?

Your 2. is wrong.

Nobody "made mass".

All the LHC did was make enough Higgs bosons to confirm their existence. The way in which the Higgs "creates mass" is something altogether different.

Black hats are great for language diversity, says Eugene Kaspersky

steelpillow Silver badge

Beer for Eugene (but careful with that axe)

An honest, plain-speaking, well-informed assessment without s shred of political bias. A rare thing in cybersecurity these days. A beer for Mr. K.

But do take care not to wave your axe at the egos of politicos who might find it convenient to **** on you.

Dear humans, We thought it was time we looked through YOUR source code. We found a mystery ancestor. Signed, the computers

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Many mysteries

"It all falls down of course when you learn that a very few female mules can be fertile, when mated to a purebred horse or donkey."

Indeed. Does the same apply to genets (the male/female parental crossover of mules)? Now, a viable mule/genet cross, that would be something! Pretty much a return to a common ancestor currently believed to be extinct. Maybe one could cross a mule/donkey hybrid with a mule/horse hybrid?

"The situation in the avian world is much more complex and controversial."

There is a wonderful example in a certain population of seagulls. In Europe they appear as two separate species incapable of crossbreeding, and were long thought to be so. But as you go round the world one way, one of the species slowly mutates, and as you go round the other way, so does the other. When you get back to where you started, you find that there is one global population that interbreeds with its neighbours but, by the time it has spread round the world and met its other end, it can no longer interbreed. One species or more?

Speciation is not a binary on/off process. Classification into species was already in trouble before DNA analysis came along.

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Many mysteries

Originally, "species" indicated a breeding group: by definition, two species could not interbreed. Within a given species there may be sub-species, genetically identifiable subgroups which can nevertheless interbreed with each other. Botanists tend to call them varieties, zoologists breeds, anthropologists races. Finer than that are genetically identical clones, which microbiologists call strains and horticulturalists cultivars.

The remapping revolution caused by gene analysis has thrown a lot of traditional classifications out the window, but scientists still try to cling to them for the sake of familiarity and shoehorn incompatible discoveries in alongside. These days, if you ask six biologists whether two distinct species can ever interbreed, you will get at least seven different answers.

steelpillow Silver badge

Many mysteries

Missing from this report is the "third extinct ancestor" found earlier last year in native African DNA, together with hints that there might be several more around the world. So many seem to have been coming and going that modern theorists are tearing up the old evolutionary tree model and drawing spiderwebby graphs with all kinds of divergences and re-mergers elsewhere and stuff.

Truth is, the multi-species conventional wisdom is looking more and more pants. None has gone wholly extinct, every one of them lives on in us - that's how we fucking found them, Sherlock! We are/were all assorted subspecies/races/breeds/varieties of the one Homo Sapiens (last epithet to be taken as found).

Ever feel like all your prayers go unheard? The Catholic Church has an app for that

steelpillow Silver badge
Big Brother

play it safe

can't remember who it was who said that if he believed in God and there was none then he lost nothing, but if there was one and he didn't then he would be condemned to Hell. Therefore he took the coward's way out and believed fervently.

Apple hardware priced so high that no one wants to buy it? It's 1983 all over again

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Just plain embarrassing

You mean late down here in Ox?

Just forget what Gartner said about AI in June 'cos CIOs are all over it now apparently

steelpillow Silver badge

All is explained

Obviously, between then and now Gartner rolled out their own new AI based survey system.

Next year, expect a massive rise in the fancy bear dress and block-and-chain markets, the smart end in particular.

Goddamn the Pusher man: Nominet kicks out domain name hijack bid

steelpillow Silver badge

Sweet greens

I hear the Nominet person dealing with this case was called Step N. Wolf.

Begone, Demon Internet: Vodafone to shutter old-school pioneer ISP

steelpillow Silver badge


Demon Turnpike was a great email client for its day, though only ever developed for Windows, so my move to Linux left it behind. Took a long time for the likes of Netscape/Mozilla to catch up.

Amazingly I find I am still on Demon broadband. The string BT provide is an insult, not even wet enough to hit 2M so I have been looking at a 4G home hub plus maybe a signal booster and let the landline go to hell in a handcart. Either way it'll be Vodafone, now.

BTW, yes, I have friends in an urban area - Cheltenham to be exact - whose landlines are so awful they have no access to any kind of broadband and struggle to find a dialup service to get online. BT are cutting their own throats these days.

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

steelpillow Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Devuan user here

'Nother Devuan user here, Bro/Sis (is there a gender-neutral term here? Mate?)

Zuck's 2019 tech talk tour should tackle the questions Facebook spent 2018 dodging

steelpillow Silver badge


Whenever I see that photo of Zuck it makes me think of Beaker from the Muppets.

Real-time OS: Ordnance Survey gets snuggly with Intel's Mobileye

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Ripe for the picking

"it still has some military function which has kept it in public ownership?"

You mean like the armament manufacturers, the Galileo satnav network and the "doughnut" inhabited by GCHQ?

steelpillow Silver badge

Ripe for the picking

Another government sell-off to private extortionists enterprise approaches, then.

Despite vows to spend more with smaller firms, UK.gov sure does seem to love legacy lock-in

steelpillow Silver badge

Lack of know-how, my arse

What a typical response from a born jobs-for-the-boys pension collector. Not a word of sense to be seen.

1. SMEs are just as good at filling in any gaps by subcontracting, if not more so as they are more willing to. They can and do access the know-how.

2. Big companies can't usually access the know-how at all. Even if they have it, the guys on the job don't and they don't know who else in their company might. But they never admit it, they just send in any old clown, refuse to resource him, and pretend it's all good. Or the know-how belongs to a competitor, in which case they will break it irretrievably before handing over.

3. The only know-how that SME's lack is how to tilt the playing field your way during bidding, for example: a) the list of past salesmen your target got chummy with, b) ingrained instinct to lie through your teeth to get the contract then think up excuses afterwards, c) the greed to charge a ridiculously high price, thus giving the impression you have recognised the full technical import of work involved.

...Ad nauseam

Big cable trolls big mobile with '10G' trademark application

steelpillow Silver badge

aggregating content closer to customers

More but less heavily-loaded server cloud farms cloning each other right left and centre, then.

Actually, this might even drive backup/sync/recovery tech forwards. Not to mention making it harder to divert Western user traffic through Russia or China's spy networks. For such reasons I can only wish it well.

Low-power chips are secret sauce behind long-life wearables

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Is the next step

It was done a long time ago. The problem back then was that the tech was inadequate. With mechanical generation via an off-balance weight, batteries were unsuitable for the random bursts of recharge, while supercapacitors ran down too quickly at night. Solar cells were inefficient and did not have enough output to do more than prolong battery life. Maybe today we could do better.

steelpillow Silver badge

Lower end

I know, you could create an entry-level model which features the amazingly innovative analogue hands but just tells the time and nothing else. Oh, wait...

Casio once brought out an LCD model with digital hands. The segments were arranged like the petals of a flower, with each one crafted in the shape of part of a hand, none of your pixel-array rubbish here. A beautiful blend of bleeding-edge lithography and art. Oh, I think - I hope - I have just described the January 2020 launch model.

Fake 'U's! Phishing creeps use homebrew fonts as message ciphers to evade filters

steelpillow Silver badge

Now I understand

why now and then an email appears as gibberish in my PLAIN TEXT email client.

You mean, somebody out there still thinks HTML email is a good idea? Oh, good grief!

Huawei or the highway: Chinese giant whacks marketing drones for tweeting from iPhone

steelpillow Silver badge

Wrecked again

"Wrecked again, I'm out on the highway,

"Wrecked again, I'm trying to find Huawei

"To you."

— With apologies to Michael Chapman.

My 2019 resolution? Not to buy any of THIS rubbish

steelpillow Silver badge

No. 14

I will never pay for a parcel at a post office ever again. Pre-pay via a comparison site (say ParcelMonkey) costs less than half as much for exactly the same service, and that's before taking off the broker's commission. Just print the label, hand over and they scan-and-send. Even the Parcel Post web site charges the full price for its pre-pay service.

New Horizons snaps finish buffering: Ultima Thule actually two dust bunnies that got snuggly 4.5 billion years ago

steelpillow Silver badge


What a bit of luck. The first object to be given a double-barrelled name in advance turns out to be a double object.

The chances against that must be, er, astronomical. >ducks for cover<

Naming them individually "Ultima" and "Thule" is not so much unimaginative as grabbing the moment to set an archetypal precedent. I only wish there were a double-beer icon here.

It's 2019, the year Blade Runner takes place: I can has flying cars?

steelpillow Silver badge

AI? Not

Replicants are not AI as we struggle to create it today, they are biologically engineered - eyeballs being a case in point. Listen too to the dialogue between creator and creation over the way that the engineering of these supermen has led to an (admittedly convenient) un-fixable drastic reduction in lifespan. They are not AI as the article claims, they are supermen. The same applies to the artificial pets (nod to the forgotten owl, here). Given the current bleeding-edge work on athletic performance enhancements, neural stem cell implants, genetics and whatnot, we may perhaps create replicants before we can achieve true AI.

'Year-long' delay to UK 5G if we spike Huawei deals, say telcos

steelpillow Silver badge

Huawei in a manger

No crib for a red

The little ... oh, you know the tune, make it up as you go along.

Corel – yeah, as in CorelDraw – looks in its Xmas stocking and discovers... Parallels

steelpillow Silver badge

History, history

WordPerfect was the original dominant wordprocessor on MS Windows, taking over the marketplace from the older WordStar on MSDOS. It was famous for its "reveal codes" feature which gave you an editable view of the raw ASCII document code. Magic! Rather than make a better product themselves, MS indulged in their usual hated tactics to oust WordPerfect and force their own Word on everybody, and from that grow an office suite to oust Lotus 1-2-3 etc. Corel bought the failing WordPerfect and, bless their cotton socks, kept it on life support until it regained a semblance of consciousness.

Meanwhile, Corel Draw was falling victim to Adobe's equally disreputable selling of their Sh*tware. Xara was a blazlingly fast and easy to use up-and-coming competitor to on Acorn's RISC OS/Archimedes. As the ARM-based OS fell from favour, so too did Xara's sales. They offered their UI to Inkscape, hoping to do a tie-in with Inkscape as the free version and Xara as the much faster pay-for version, but in the end all it did was improve Inkscape no end. Instead, Xara was bought up by Corel, who used its algorithms and UI to refresh Corel Draw. Hats off to the Xara team and RISC OS for the colour picker we have all used to death ever since.

I am amazed and delighted that Corel have the cash to buy anything any more.

IBM: Co-Op Insurance talking direct to coding subcontractor helped collapse of £55m IT revamp project

steelpillow Silver badge


Agile + single-drop release candidate = WTF

Did nobody tell the customer?

Boffins don't give a sh!t, slap Trump's face on a turd in science journal

steelpillow Silver badge

The real truth

"This was just an unfortunate accident. We wanted to draw out the common sequence of breaking wind, in which there is little DNA, followed shortly by a number two, in which there is plenty. They can feel a lot the same while they are on the way, and sometimes even arrive almost simultaneously. So we searched online for an image of a "fart or trump" and photoshopped it onto the end of a faecal stool. We had absolutely no idea that the image bore the slightest resemblance to our esteemed President, this has come as big a shock to us as to everybody else. Now, can we please keep our jobs, Your Honour?"

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: They have to retract the article...

Yeah, it has apparently retained star of South Park, Mr. Hanky, as its lawyer.

Jingle bells, disk drives sell not so well from today. Oh what fun it is to ride on a one-horse open array...

steelpillow Silver badge

Somebody just took a ruler to the trends of the last two years. I could do that. How much was the clown paid?

Virgin Galactic test flight reaches space for the first time, lugging NASA cargo in place of tourists

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: Bah!

in space nobody can hear you yeeeehaaaa!

steelpillow Silver badge

82.7 = 100, really?

"The Kármán line, at 100km, has commonly been regarded as where space starts."

So, not actually reached space, then.

I notice that the BBC swallowed the same guff and have since watered down their headline. Ho-hum.

Bulk surveillance is always bad, say human rights orgs appealing against top Euro court

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: there is an absolute right to privacy, which there isn't

"Bulk surveillance is recording every beach, all the time, and then being able to do a search at some point for where you have been. See the difference?"

Oh, you mean like security cameras in shopping areas? The ones they trawl back through to catch paedophiles, rapists and terrorists?

No, I don't see the difference, or at least, not that difference. (I noted a different difference already - got that?)

steelpillow Silver badge

Re: there is an absolute right to privacy, which there isn't

There is and there isn't.

First, let's include commercial spying, aka data harvesting, in the mix. What "right to privacy" applies to NSA and GCHQ that does not apply to Facebook and Google?

Next there is the POPD - Plain Old Physical Domain. What "right to privacy" does online trawling breach, that a telescope on a pier above a crowded beach does not?

And what "right to privacy" should override the right not to get abused by a paedophile, rapist or terrorist?

I am not saying there are no such rights (for example trawling the 'net often reveals an ID that the telescope seldom does), but I am saying that a lot of BS is spouted by rights activists.


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