* Posts by Benson's Cycle

368 posts • joined 16 Jun 2019


Dry patch? Have you considered peppering your flirts with emojis?

Benson's Cycle

Re: Secondary effect?

Obviously, having worked out the optimum use of emjoji, they are more frequently on top of it than you or I.

Benson's Cycle

Re: 5,327 American singles aged 18-94

It very clearly doesn't. It suggests that use of emojis is associated with making better connections with people.

Benson's Cycle

Re: Proof that emojis don't work

It beats Mynydd Pen Bre in Wales, anyway.

Dropbox would rather write code twice than try to make C++ work on both iOS and Android

Benson's Cycle

Re: Beard talk

Sadly they went off the rails.

They were last seen drinking rubbing alcohol behind a dumpster.

Benson's Cycle

Re: What the hell is C++, Java, C# and the other drivel?

PDP-8s required it because standard practice was to store subroutine return address in the location immediately before the subroutine. Also, the PDP-8 had instructions that saved time by leaving the memory location cleared, so it was not necessary to rewrite the read value back into core.

I actually liked the PDP-8, it made you feel that you actually understood what was going on right down to the gate level.

Benson's Cycle

Re: What the hell is C++, Java, C# and the other drivel?

Bad phraseology on my part, I admit. For "practical" read "commercial".

Early Algol and Fortran were/are basically scientific languages, COBOL was practical in the sense that it was widely adopted for business and financial use.

You may not have got on with it, but an awful lot of COBOL has stood the test of time very well. And, given its typical uses, it was hardly the language you wanted someone trying to write from the grammar only. Many languages suck, but none of them suck like a program written by someone who thinks he (it's going to be he) is so 1337* that he can learn any program from the spec and be let loose on enterprise code**.

*I know 1337 is obsolete.

**If you don't know what "enterprise code" means, you have never had to write any.

Benson's Cycle

Re: What the hell is C++, Java, C# and the other drivel?

One of the best (i.e. worst) bugs I ever found was in an embedded application using EPROM. There was a debugger in it which had been borrowed direct from someone else's code for which there was no assembler source.

The genius programmer decided to incorporate the code with just a few mods to fix entry and exit pooints. He was one of those people who boasted that he could work out opcodes. And he almost could.

There was at one point a jump in the debugger (at the bottom of EPROM) back into the running program which was from the top downwards.

Unfortunately it actually jumped into unprogrammed EPROM between the end of the debugger and the start of the program. Which was of course filled with FFFF. Which just happened to be a valid opcode that corrupted RAM based on the content of a register.

Benson's Cycle

Re: Or maybe

Mark Twain reports how he was watching a hunt in England when a man on a horse rode up and demanded "which way did the fox go?" To which Twain replied "Which fox? Because there are such a lot of foxes."

And I ask, "Which Python? Because there are such a lot of pythons."

(You missed the joke icon, without which you might be misinterpreted.)

Benson's Cycle

Re: What the hell is C++, Java, C# and the other drivel?

I wouldn't want to be in the room if you called Rear Admiral Grace Hopper a "girl" to her face (you might end up stapled to a punch card like the original bug) but yes, a woman was responsible for the first practical high level language.

Benson's Cycle

It reminds me of a letter published once by Computer Weekly from an IT manager saying that if everybody just stopped messing around with all these other systems and used Windows and Office, life would be so much simpler.

It might be worth reading Umberto Eco's book The search for the perfect language which describes the attempts over many years to invent or rediscover a perfect language which would replace all those messy ones that make communication so difficult. All, of course, ended in failure.

Subcontractor's track record under spotlight as London Mayoral e-counting costs spiral

Benson's Cycle

Well, the French own a sizeable part of our electrical supply system, so how do we know they are not sending signals that cleverly interfere with computers? And Russian oligarchs send aid to the Conservative Party. Boris Johnson is a Russo-French plot. Obviously. Ca va sans dire. Yozh znaet.

Astroboffins have spied the largest star that has gone supernova and it's breaking all the rules

Benson's Cycle

Because he is making the perfectly valid point that most of what we know is not theoretical - it increasingly has applications - and some of what we know is not applied because people take a decision not to do it. It helps to read the post that started all this.

I'm not so sure about the first bit though. Very few people, I agree, do have a deep knowledge of what it actually means to know something, as distinct from believing or accepting it, and the people who do tend not to go in for politics, where lying can make you PM. But one of my own supervisors used to remark that too much understanding of how knowledge works can be bad for scientists, because what they publish - and are deeply involved in - is itself only partial and may be superseded, and knowing this is the enemy of deciding it is time to publish. In my own career I have had several times to drag results out of people before they thought they were ready, because significant amounts of jobs and money turned on their work.

German kids used to have to read, and sometimes learn, Schiller's Lied von der Glocke:

Das ist’s ja, was den Menschen zieret,/Und dazu ward ihm der Verstand,/Daß er im innern Herzen spüret,/Was er erschafft mit seiner Hand.

(Loosely, "That which adorns man and makes his mind is that he feels in his inmost heart what he creates with his hand")

Benson's Cycle

Re: Soup

However, and referencing Muphry's Law, an apostrophe is not an inverted comma. In the days of lead type printers might have used a raised comma, but an inverted and raised comma is something else - it indicates a rough breathing in Greek text. And today the apostrophe is a distinct character anyway.

Benson's Cycle

Re: Soup

I approve of the "just" as some people are obviously doing both.

Though I don't sacrifice sheep, I just end up full of small holes when the Harvest Goddess decrees the blackberries need picking and cutting back.

Benson's Cycle

Re: Another..

Mine ended up in the skip, I couldn't get the spares.

Cisc-o-no! 'We’re being uninvited to bid' on China deals admits CEO as Middle Kingdom snub freaks out investors

Benson's Cycle

Re: But then......

Neither socialism nor communism imply loss of freedom, and really the state of the US today cannot be attributed to left wing views. Especially as the Republican Party has been in real power for at least the last 18 years.

You need to educate yourself about the two political axes - left/right and libertarian/authoritarian are orthogonal. Both the US and China are somewhat authoritarian, but the US seems to be becoming more so as its empire starts to get restless.

Benson's Cycle

Re: Don't forget the "Made In China 2025" plan

You are relying on your 100% hindsight. Just as with 100% hindsight we can see the roots of totalitarianism in Hegel.

I would also really like to know where the ideas of the Communist Manifesto were implemented. Though, if you've read Walden II (Skinner) you will know there were serious American academics that thought they were workable. Despite Skinner having tried to work with the military in WW2.

Benson's Cycle

Re: Don't forget the "Made In China 2025" plan

Well, China isn't communist -they have a government and private industry, a pretty good giveaway (you did read The Communist Manifesto, didn't you? It's not all jokes*.) and if you want heavy handed, take a look at your own country - someone has made a list above of the people who forgot to pay the Danegeld.

So by your own logic it isn't an issue at all.

*The bit about the State withering away when Communism comes is funny, but unintentionally so. Marx was a good writer and did a lot to promote the work of Engels, but you can't help noticing that he's the grandson of a rabbi, because his communism is the perfect future promised by the Prophets. The Bible is in large parts about the conflict between left wing (prophetic) Judaism and right wing (expansionist, military, city-based monarchic Judaism), and that conflict continues today.

Benson's Cycle

Re: The Great Wall of "Thanks, but no thanks. We're good."

Remember Kent State?

It's a God-awful smell affair.... is there life on Mars? Rocks ruled out as source of mystery methane on Red Planet

Benson's Cycle

Re: "we know natural methane is odorless"

I believe the main gas in human farts is hydrogen, not methane, and that is why lighting them can be very dangerous. Methane emerging from a cow's rear end is too concentrated to go bang easily and doesn't diffuse too fast. Hydrogen rapidly diffuses in air and the resulting mixtures can have a very fast flame front which rapidly burns back to the origin.

Cows that have eaten the wrong stuff may produce hydrogen and there are tales of vets producing unexpected bangs.

Benson's Cycle

Re: I think its probably more likely to be geological

It is interesting how we still rely on anthropocentric thinking.

Bill Ockham has nothing to say on the subject. Because, if you were to have as much knowledge of the Earth as we do of Mars, based on actual exploration, you could have landed in an awful lot of places which would lead you to conclude that any methane came from rocks.

But based on the evidence of our own planet, the "obvious" conclusion is that life seems to get everywhere. It's just that Aristotle was enormously influential, despite so many of his statements being so obviously wrong.

Police costs for Gatwick drone fiasco double to nearly £900k – and still no one's been charged

Benson's Cycle

Re: Millions

I always thought the McCann reaction was a bit of a deflection strategy. The same here; "Look how much effort we're making to catch the operator of this probably nonexistent quadcopter."

Microsoft Surface users baffled after investing in kit that throttles itself to the point of passing out

Benson's Cycle

Re: Which is it?

Are you sure?

The article says a device "unnecessarily" sending a signal to the CPU to slow down. But what if it is a motherboard design fault causing said device to overheat under certain conditions? Until someone works out a way to run a thermal camera over the board under realistic operating conditions it's hard to be sure.

I used to hate this kind of problem, with something that only goes wrong in the enclosure, till a colleague told me of his even worse experience debugging a certain military avionics system. The rack of boards had air flowing over at over 500fpm. To diagnose a board problem you were supposed to put in an extender board so that the offending board stuck out of the rack. Into still air. Whereupon the ECL promptly got hot, and even if you were able to work while a colleague aimed a hairdryer on cold at it, the temperature change promptly threw the timings off.

Cisco axes hundreds, shares tumble amid China cut-off – but we're winning the trade war, right? So much winning

Benson's Cycle

Re: How can this be?

They do, but not with money. The Mexicans have been paying for a long time for having the US as a neighbour. Having an escape route for the ambitious and hardworking meant that the problems of the country didn't get fixed.

Benson's Cycle

Re: How can this be?

The Japanese were accused of copying, but the Japanese bikes were not copies of British ones. They were designed by people who followed the engineering textbooks, not Edward Turner's latest off the wall brainwave, and made by people who read Deming and adopted quality methods.

In fact, after Sony invented the Walkman it was the West who were playing catch-up on consumer electronics for many years.

Benson's Cycle

Re: Too much winning is not good for anyone, quite clearly america is getting bored with it

This reminds me of an old joke.

The US invades China during the Cultural Revolution.

There is a battle. A messenger comes to Chairman Mao.

"Did we win?"

"Alas, a thousand Chinese were killed and only ten Americans."

There is another battle.

"Did we win?"

"Alas, a thousand heroic People's Soldiers were killed and only ten running dog Imperialists."

There is a third battle...and a fourth, and more, all with the same result.

Eventually an aide dares to ask the Chairman if the war is going to plan.

"Of course," says Mao, "Soon they will run out of Americans."

I really believe that the Chinese strategy is indeed to let the Americans "win" until they have lost.

WeWork filed its IPO homework. So we had a look at its small print and... yowser. What has El Reg got itself into?

Benson's Cycle

Re: They are a real estate company

It's gambler logic.

A real gambler doesn't go for an each way with a low yield. A real gambler prefers the 100:1 horse or the single number at roulette. It's more exciting.

When you realise that many bank traders are compulsive gamblers who have found a way to get other people to fund their addiction, it all makes sense.

We're not going Huawei even if you ban our 5G kit, Chinese firm tells UK

Benson's Cycle

Re: Storm clouds

"China has a murderous, autocratic, ruthless, repressive and downright nasty regime. Considering its behaviour, it is at least as evil as the Soviet Union was alleged to be."

The Soviet Union, unlike modern China, wasn't terribly good at encouraging private business, generating economic growth and lifting people out of poverty. If we're going to equate the present Chinese government with Mao's Cultural Revolution, that's just plain silly. Like equating today's South Korea with the previous military dictatorship, or a Brexiter writing about the "EUSSR".

China hasn't really gone in for expansionist wars. Tibet has been disputed territory for a long time. It hasn't tried to enforce régime change in countries thousands of miles distant, like, say, Russia, Vietnam, Iran, Iraq or Libya. It hasn't interfered in elections in the UK, Russia, Ukraine or Venezuela. It has treated very badly a Muslim group in its territory that is rather smaller than the number of Muslims bombed by the US in recent years. China has also been extensively invaded by Japan, and foreigners have taken over limited parts of its territory, such as Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taiwan. They do have a certain right to be suspicious of foreigners.

As a result I remain much less worried about what China may do than about what the US (and Trump) may do to try to hold on to world domination.

China seems to have a simple strategy; efficient trade with the rest of the world will lift the last billion out of poverty. The main influence on Chinese governments still seems to be Kung Fu-Tse rather than Mao, and among his precepts are:

In the Spring and the Autumn there are no righteous wars (it actually means there had been no just wars in all of Chinese history)


Deal with the woes of the people if you would sit calmly on your throne.

Truckers, prepare to lose your jobs as UPS buys into self-driving tech

Benson's Cycle

Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

It's hardly the point how the US compares to Europe, because it is apples to oranges. The US is much bigger than the EU and the population centres are more dispersed. You would expect it to have a higher percentage of freight going by rail. The fact that the UK has a pathetically poor percentage of freight carried by rail, and heavy congestion on the motorways as a result, doesn't surprise me because I know we are crap at infrastructure. After a trip around Germany I remember a former colleague, a very free market economist, remarking "OK, I now see the case for an integrated transport policy".

Russia, with a tiny economy compared to the US, is spending a lot on improving rail links with the East. China is attempting to grow rail freight by 30% in two years. The US is, in effect, betting on software to solve a logistics problem.

Benson's Cycle

Re: Rail gun that shoots amazon

Yesterday I watched as a DPD driver stopped on one side of the road, then reversed slowly looking at house numbers, then reversed fast onto the opposite side of the road, going up the kerb and stopping just in time not to hit a streetlight. Too much effort to carry on a few yards and turn round.

In our street, Google Maps switches to "Welcome home" about half way down our drive.

Benson's Cycle

Re: Delivery drivers do more than just drive

Basically this is an attempt to reinvent trains in a country which has poor rail infrastructure. For a train the ratio of truck to driver can easily be 25 to 1 or more.

Donald Trump blinks in his one-man trade war with China: US govt stalls import tariff hike on Chinese phones, laptops, electronics

Benson's Cycle

Not the rest of the world. About 90000 clueless sociopaths have inflicted on the UK a PM every bit as bad as Trump, who also makes up policies to get likes. And that after they had seen for themselves what Trump was like. We have absolutely nothing to boast about in this respect.

Applications to UK universities from China are up. I await with interest Johnson's sanctions on Monday after he's talked to Trump, followed by a reverse on Tuesday after someone shows him the economic statistics, followed by donuts in the car park till he crashes.

Benson's Cycle

Re: 'preventing further unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China'

India did exactly the same thing without being communist. It is what every developing country needs to do to overcome the first mover advantage of the developed world. It is what the US did in its earlier stages.

Your post really can be summarised as "It's so unfair! China wants to grow economically the same way the US did!"

Benson's Cycle

Re: Trump is in attention seeking mode again

There is something happening in the US which must be worrying him. The numbers in favour of gun control has passed the 50% mark. But Trump's core support will never contemplate it.

Benson's Cycle

True, but the current share prices of Tesla and Uber demonstrate what has been said by many economists in the past - that many investors are indeed morons.

Science and engineering hit worst as Euroboffins do a little Brexit of their own from British universities

Benson's Cycle

Re: Brexit bollocks

"I wont be telling you where I am or where I have been but dont worry, your grandchildren already have you."

Yup, poor kids. I feel sorry for them too.

You're quite right to be paranoid, though. I might dox you and send you a double glazing advert, since you clearly need to move to somewhere that has functioning windows.

Benson's Cycle

Re: Brexit bollocks

If you are in the UK why do you write "checks" instead of "cheques" ? Numerous things in your post point to American English.

And again I ask, what is this "student city" in the UK? Even Cambridge can't really be described as a student city.

You appear not to understand that in 1920 the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers' Party) was a fringe left wing organisation which was taken over by Hitler, who refused to let the party progress politically while apparently retaining the 1920 program. Even a perusal of Wikipedia tells you that: "To [Hitler, the program] was little more than an effective, persuasive propaganda weapon for mobilizing and manipulating the masses. Once it had brought him to power, it became pure decoration".

Life is not long enough to go into all the factors involved, but even in the 19th century German socialism was distinctly nationalistic in tone. Hitler really didn't get anywhere until post-War German prosperity was hit by the Wall Street Crash, whereupon his far right message that it was all the fault of the bankers and Jews gained traction. As soon as he came to power, the 25 points were discarded. You conveniently forget that hyperinflation in Germany was some years after 1920.

Therefore, to argue as Worsthall seems to that the programme of the NSDAP in 1920 was in some way equivalent to Hitler's programme in power, and that therefore the social democratic programme of the British Labour Party is somehow about to facilitate Corbyn as Hitler II - is a massive misunderstanding of history. And Worsthall should know better. I already know you don't. Please do let me know the name of your university, I have a number of grandchildren who will be thinking about universities in a few years and if yours really is in this country - which, as I say, I doubt based on your spelling - maybe they should avoid it, since it is clearly not promoting clear thought in your case.

Benson's Cycle

Re: Brexit bollocks

The fact that you cite an idiotic right wing blog (Worsthal knows about lanthanides) written by someone who clearly has no understanding of the events around Hitler's takeover of the NSDAP is, I submit, futher evidence of what a lot of others have been saying about your posts.

Please, educate yourself about Germany from 1900 to 1945 before citing such bollocks.

Benson's Cycle

Re: Brexit bollocks

"Left leaning student city".

Well, I'm guessing it isn't Voronezh or Akademgorodok, and there are no student cities in the US, so where are you? In my experience, only Americans and Russians who learned English in the US use "left-leaning".

Benson's Cycle

Re: Brexit bollocks

I don't like Cameron but in 2014 the government was comparatively sane. Cameron and Clegg were nowhere near as bad as early Thatcher, and the weirdos like Mogg were hardly visible.

The trouble is that in a two party system the two main parties become internal coalitions. That's how you can easily have people like Clarke and Heseltine, Field and Watson who could be in either main party, and a chorus of loonies on the fringes. In normal times the loonies are a nuisance but have little real effect.

Then a real loonie party - UKIP - notices that the Conservative Party is shedding members, and its members realise that if they join the Cons they can be the tail that wags the dog. And hey, ho, over the cliff we go.

In 2014, the loonie takeover was still a couple of years away.

Apple is a filthy AWS, Azure, Google reseller, gripe punters: iPhone giant accused of hiding iCloud's real backend

Benson's Cycle


What do Windows 10 and Uber or Lyft have in common? One bad driver can really ruin your day. And 40 can totally ruin your month

Benson's Cycle

Re: "Slurp"

You were doing so well up to the :D.

Almost as annoying as LOL.

Benson's Cycle


It's been mentioned by others that Huawei's OS, like QNX/BB 10, is a microkernel.

It would be hugely paradoxical (and amusing) if a Chinese OS turned out to be more secure than a US one. It probably won't, but at least they are starting in the right place.

Psst. Hey. Hey you. We have to whisper this in case the cool kidz hear, but... it's OK to pull your data back from the cloud

Benson's Cycle

Re: OK to pull your data back from the cloud

So that companies that didn't have the budget for secure server rooms and a range of IT skills could still obtain the benefits.

Companies going back to on-site are presumably large enough to have those things and so don't need to pay someone else for their billing and profit overhead.

The IT manager for the charity I'm involved with is me. I know my limitations, thank you.

Benson's Cycle

Re: Really?

Somebody's parents probably weren't too up on Homer. But yes, a wonderful example of reverse nominal determinism.

Benson's Cycle

Re: ... remember that cloud is neither inevitable or irreversible.

Excellent post but surely you should be saving that insight for your £1000 a day senior management seminars? It doesn't do to let the helots know how the kings think.

Seoul cycle, rinse and repeat: South Korea kicks Japan off white list

Benson's Cycle

Not overly friendly

It looks as if Japanese actions in the 1930s and 1940s are coming back to bite them as the US exports toxic nationalism around the world and other countries catch it.

SELECT code_execution FROM * USING SQLite: Eggheads lift the lid on DB security hijinks

Benson's Cycle

Re: Apache Derby

Well, IIRC it allows you to store classes and the use them to retrieve instances of them as objects. I'm sorry if I got that wrong. However, I wondered if anyone had looked into that as a security vulnerability.

I haven't used nearly all Apache projects so I can't comment on (3) but Tomcat is something I have used a lot and seems neither over engineered nor too complicated and other Apache projects I've used have done the job without stress. Hibernate now...

As for 4, we'll just have to disagree. Along with a number of large companies.

Benson's Cycle

Re: Competitors for SQLite?

If you are in a J2EE environment (or whatever it's called these days, I retired a few years ago) Derby is excellent from a capability and deployment perspective. It can do automatic backup and restore from within the program. I have used it to maintain backups of the live database in removable storage and over networks. It makes a nice authentication database for Tomcat. Its file structure is page based and it has proven very robust against corruption. It is also fast. It's like an in-memory DB2, in fact, but with a very small memory footprint (excluding the actual data, of course). By contrast, SQLite is very lacking in features and capability.

However, its level of security if you gain access to the physical box is uncertain, which is why I asked the question below.


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