* Posts by GrahamRJ

22 posts • joined 2 Dec 2016

We're going deeper Underground: Vulture clicks claws over London's hidden tracks


Re: Mail Rail

And operated by zombies, *ahem* "Residual Human Resources". (To readers who haven't discovered Charles Stross yet - get reading.)

Fancy yourself as a bit of a Ramblin' Man or Woman? Maybe brush up on your cartography


Re: Any Idiot...

Exactly. I can only guess that Doctor Syntax has never been hillwalking. Or at least I hope he's never been hillwalking, because clearly it's only good luck that has stopped him being another statistic for Mountain Rescue.

We have a favourite walk in the Peaks where we start at Hayfield, head up onto the north-west corner of Kinder Scout, drop off Kinder Scout at the south-west corner, and back down in plenty of time for a nice meal and a pint. Normally it's a beautiful walk. Except last year on August Bank Holiday, it was hailing sideways. I've been in the Peaks in some pretty unpleasant weather, including white-outs, but I've rarely seen it that bad in winter and never in summer. I made the call to turn back when it got too exposed. As we walked back, we warned people we passed that it was bad, and several of them overtook us on the way back having made the same call. (We were up there with my 8-year-old son, so not going as fast.) I strongly suspect that they felt more able to make the same decision after someone else had already done it. And we persuaded three groups who were ludicrously ill-equipped for the weather to turn round (two couples with no waterproofs, and a pair of guys wearing bin-bags as impromptu waterproofs, all in trainers).

All those people came down safely. One slip in trainers on wet grass though, and exposure would have set in so quickly that they would have been in real trouble.

We had done the same walk in June. It was so hot that people were sat having sandwiches on the dried-up bed of the Kinder Downfall waterfall, and the biggest risk was sunburn. Anyone who approaches the hills thinking that this is always the case though is a very real danger to themselves and those around them.

Blood money is fine with us, says GitLab: Vetting non-evil customers is 'time consuming, potentially distracting'


Re: "This is a very confused post"

"ICE's human rights abuses"

No-one's saying they shouldn't exist, nor that the laws shouldn't exist (except perhaps with changes). What's at issue is whether ICE is itself breaking the law in enforcing other laws. No-one doubts the need for police either - but it doesn't mean they were entitled to kick hell out of Rodney King.

"That's something no other country I can think of gives you."

Every country in the world has some process for claiming asylum, and all Western democracies I'm aware of have a process of appeal which involves the courts. In Europe we have the European Court of Human Rights which can rule against a country trying to expel an asylum applicant, and has done repeatedly.

First Python feature release under new governance model is here, complete with walrus operator (:=)


That's kind of missing the point of the coding standard. It doesn't matter whether the code is going into Flappy Birds or a nuclear power station. The point is that applying the coding standard gives you code which is less likely to be wrong in the first place, and thereafter can be easily reviewed and understood by most people at a glance.

Many languages have known holes which users will frequently fall into. A coding standard is about covering over those holes. Regardless of whether the bottom of the hole just contains dogshit or a claymore mine, not putting your foot in the hole in the first place is still a good thing.

So when the architect of Python *intentionally* creates a new hole, which we have been fully aware of for the last 30 years or more (the original Lint warned about this) and furthermore was intentionally absent from the language in the first place, and he says it's for the alleged benefit of novice coders who are unable to formulate an if-else statement, I can only be sceptical about his competence not just as an architect but also as a software engineer.

It's not uncommon that people get promoted out of day-to-day technical work, and that's fine. But then accepting that you're no longer as technically adept as you used to be is essential. I'm glad he's stepped down; it's just a shame he's tracked dogshit through the office before he left.


It is explicitly banned as an anti-pattern by MISRA, who are one of the leading organisations devoted to setting software development standards. The reason is twofold: combining assignment and test in one line makes it harder to follow (as assessed by MISRA, who set the coding standard based on code being easily reviewable and maintainable by other people); and it also makes it impossible to tell whether the assignment was *genuinely* supposed to be there or whether the coder simply made a typo.

So not just IMHO, but also in the less-humble opinion of all people involved in setting a leading safety-related software development standard. Incidentally, I've also met the same rule in in-house C coding standards for automotive and aerospace software, again set by the senior engineers of those organisations.

I'd be genuinely interested to find people who can advocate for it with any argument other than "it's less lines of code", an argument which we all know (or should know) is fallacious.


Except it doesn't. For me, the "improved" version is much harder to follow at a quick scan. One of the key features for Python is that it *didn't* have bizarrely arcane language grammar, so it was very suitable as a training language. And now they've added some. Yay. Not. If that's the best example they can find, I'd say that my most charitable assessment would be "no proven benefit, some proven negative".

If it was already in the language (like C/C++) then fine, leave it be. When it isn't already in the language, it's a ton of extra work for no reason other than one person (GvR) thinks it'd be neat. And that's certainly a compelling reason for GvR to step down, if he's got bored with the Python language in the form which made it successful and decided to drop in changes which break its reason for being successful in the first place.


Why TF would anyone want to *add* this? It's a well-recognised anti-pattern in C and C++, to the extent that coding standards such as MISRA explicitly ban its use. At least the "walrus operator" is relatively harder to use accidentally, which is its main reason for being excluded from C/C++ coding standards; but in practise it really doesn't bring you anything except less-clear code.

Imagine finding this bad boy in your shower: Brit startup pulls the sheets off Moon spider mech


Yay, someone else who remembers that film. I was going to post exactly the same thing, so kudos for getting in first. :)

Let's talk about April Fools' Day jokes. Are they ever really harmless?


Re: That code..

Actually it has at least 256 states in C. Some platforms/compilers store a boolean in a single byte, whereas others use an int. If something else happens to stomp your memory, or if the stored data you're loading is corrupt in interesting ways, then your code may run into this.

This becomes interesting if a coder naively checks "if (flag == TRUE)" and "if (flag == FALSE)", because a corrupted flag won't satisfy either condition. I have actually seen this happen, and the result for code which dropped through without following either path was not pretty. Thereafter, our coding standard was to *always" use "if (flag)" and "if (!flag)", on the grounds that even if data got corrupted, the code would still do something sensible and internally-valid.

Amusingly, Ford Motor Company had the same kind of experience. With the inevitable design-by-committee idiocy of a large company where the people setting the coding standards don't actually have to write code, they mandated that if you wanted to check for a flag being true, the code had to say "if (flag != FALSE)". *facepalm*

It liiives! Sorta. Gentle azure glow of Windows XP clocked in Tesco's self-checkouts, no less


Morrisons have a different message. Theirs says (at some volume): "Surprising item in bagging area."

I don't know why it's surprising. OK, this particular item was a cucumber, which could cause surprise in various NSFW ways. But the staff member didn't seem at all surprised at the checkout going on the fritz, and nor was I.

Xen 4.11 debuts new ‘PVH’ guest type, for the sake of security


I was, but only because I was clagging together a build cluster from old machines, and the company wasn't prepared to spring for VMware. And having got that build cluster working, Xen decided (in their less-than-infinite wisdom) to remove high-availability failover support from the free version, which was really the main reason for choosing XenServer in the first place.

If I was still maintaining this, I'd probably be changing to Oracle's VM Server, which still uses Xen under the surface but doesn't feature-cripple it. I don't understand why the XenProject guys would want to crap on their users like that. I don't mind having a slightly less spiffy UI and less of the "pro" features, but surely high-availability is the single most important reason for running a cluster. Lose that and you lose the whole point of it.

But since my company got bought out, everything's moving to a nice new server running VMware, so I don't need to worry about it any more.

I got 257 problems, and they're all open source: Report shines light on Wild West of software


At least the command line is OK

I've got 99 problems, but the bash ain't one...

Navy names new attack sub HMS Agincourt


Re: So sad

Surely they need to name one the HMS Aardvark. Then it'll always show up first on the list of world warships.


Re: So sad

BTW, you're aware your name is that of a famous fictional ship, aren't you?

Machines learned to assemble IKEA’s semi-disposable furniture


Re: Real men?

Wo-oah, living on a prayer?

Sysadmin’s worst client was … his mother! Until his sister called for help


Re: My Dad...

Having just been to see Avenue Q...

"Grab your dick and double-click for porn, porn, porn!"

Fancy a viaduct? We have a wrought Victorian iron marvel to sell you


Re: Wonderful!

This would be the same London which has 250 miles of underground railway network going basically everywhere?

As someone who does a lot of walking and has walked a fair amount of London paths (my other half runs a walking group based loosely around the capital), footpaths are actually more dangerous than roads. Bike ownership is *high*, and good quality paths mean those bikes get used for everyday transport.

Anyone stuck on a bus in a traffic jam has only themselves to blame.

Troubled Watchkeeper drones miss crucial UK flight safety certificate


No surprise here

I was actually slightly involved in the project. Back in 2009-2010 I was a contractor, working for Thales who were responsible for the video feeds to the "pilot". Someone else had done the regular video feeds; I was responsible for the high-res images. Basically you tell the thing to take a snapshot, and it sends the high-res snapshot over a bit more slowly. Apparently you need the high-res imagery for formal approval of targetting. I picked up this from someone else who'd left, and got it working properly. I left before the thing reached any kind of formal completion though.

The state of the project back then was no surprise to anyone. The idea that anyone today could describe these as "cheaper" is ludicrous. At the time, the official target price was substantially more than a Reaper - which could be bought off the shelf, working, right then. The Watchkeeper was always intended to be more expensive, and even back then it wasn't close to sticking to deadlines. The idea was always that this gave us a "national capability", not that it'd be cost effective or even successful. It was total cobblers, of course, but it gave a nice little funnel of cash to those military-industrial companies.

Fighter pilot shot down laptops with a flick of his copper-plated wrist


Re: Afrika bore holes

Because the locals know which spot dries up last, giving them a fair idea of where there's a reliable bit of aquifer.

For our dowsing friend though, he may be unaware that aquifers tend to extend over some distance. Even Africa has some pretty good aquifers in places, regardless of how dry it looks on the surface. If you want to know where to start drilling, the answer could well be "anywhere for a mile around the waterhole". If you throw darts at the FT and the stocks you hit make money the next day, that doesn't mean you've subconsciously detected a money-making stock and aimed the dart at it. Especially if you happen to open it on the defence industry stocks page on the day after the US President decides to show how tough he is.

Capita call centre chap wins landmark sex discrimination lawsuit


So much fuss for saving a partner from being suicidal. Because she should just have been left to it, right? *facepalm*

Robotics is coming on leaps and bounds – literally: Bushbaby bot most vertically agile yet


Or get a small dog

I used to have cocker spaniels. At the moment we're looking after a friend's Westie. Believe me, if they can see food anywhere which is remotely reachable, their jump height and "recock" speed for another jump is unreal. Cairn terriers are probably the best though - I considered buying one of those at one time. I swear I checked the floor of their enclosure to see if they had a trampoline, because the puppies seemed to be levitating.

RAF Club members emailed fake invoices. Has it been hacked?


Re: Spammage crates over the briney!

You are Carcoats Damphands and I claim my £5.

(http://sniffpetrol.com/category/carcoat-damphands for those not up on SniffPetrol.)


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