1107 posts • joined 31 Oct 2010
Re: Love at first sight
My first approach to word processing was using the EDT program from Digital Equipment Corp, first on 16-bit PDP-11 computers running RSX11M, and then on 32-bit VAX machines. EDT was able to re-flow a paragraph of text, and do cut and paste, so a document could be tweaked until it was right. I would then print it on a lineprinter, and copy-type the text on a regular typewriter. With the VAX machine came laser printers, and then a diktat from an old-fashioned boss that we were to use typists for documents, not laser printers.
After that I bought an Amstrad Word Processor, a cheap device which sold so well IBM actually noticed. The Amstrad was designed to work very neatly with just the keyboard; I never felt the need for a mouse. Meanwhile at work I was still expected to use Digital Standard Runoff. I knew one small company that tried to get its secretary to use DSR, with predictably negative results.
Quality of design
I saw many instances in my career where I thought the initial analysis was poorly done, and processes were not cleanly separated. This led to variables being corrupted in unexpected ways. Coding standards cannot correct for poor analysis.
All too often, so-called design documents were a restatement of requirements: they said what was wanted but did not show how to achieve that. For 1950s programmers transcribing mathematics into Fortran, the requirements were often enough; but, for example, a modern database meeting modern requirements needs much more thought. Even a simple members list of an organisation should be more than just getting correct postage labels: e.g. reports on how many by county or country, ...
Design reviews ought to emphasise these matters, but often they don't. Management often feels they obstruct the need to get on with the coding.
I spent my career wondering how to turn an engineering graduate into a good programmer, and never did find the answer.
I have to admit I did not properly understand the scheme until I read the paper cited in the article.
Molten silicon (the element, not the oxide aka silica or sand) is being pumped around by electromagnetic arrangements with no moving parts apart from the molten silicon. Its "low" temperature is 1,500C and its high temperature 2,900C. Radiation and "solar" cells are a plausible way of extracting energy from the high temperature phase, rather than traditional heat exchangers.
Years ago I worked on software for a nuclear power station. The CO2 reactor coolant then generated steam at 800C -- red heat -- and high pressure.
You're legit and you know you are... Thanks to chanting racist footie fans, linking to dodgy stuff isn't necessarily illegal (well, in Europe)
Good English law
As ever, a journalist expresses his dislike of the English law of libel.
That law says in effect that if you claim something as fact you must in the last resort be prepared to prove it in court (to a civil standard, less demanding than a criminal standard).
If you make it clear that it is an opinion, it is necessary only that other people might share that opinion: it does not have to be factual, or politically correct.
What the law does forbid is reproducing rumour as fact. It also forbids printing something and than claiming that the source cannot be revealed. Both these bans remove a lot of worthless reporting and are worth having.
PS This is an opinion.
Awkward... Revealed Facebook emails show plans for data slurping, selling access to addicts' info, crafty PR spinning
Re: Users should pay to use Facebook
Thank you for replying to my comment.
My career in the software industry showed me that people are generally willing to pay for hardware, but sorely begrudge paying for software. Your reply shows that FB will pay for hardware, but does not disprove my point about paying for software.
PS I do not use Facebook. Ghastly nonsense for American extroverts.
Re: Users should pay to use Facebook
The reason the World Wide Web exists at all is that Berners-Lee made it available at no cost. Who now remembers the contemporary whatever-it-was (I've forgotten the name) that died after they tried to charge for it. There was an interface to it in Windows NT3.
Facebook, Google, and others are well aware of that history.
Edit: from another comment, I see that I was talking about Gopher.
Microsoft menaced with GDPR mega-fines in Europe for 'large scale and covert' gathering of people's info via Office
Re: "The Dutch authorities are working with the company to fix the situation"
Munich, and other German places, tried that. The problem was that they had to exchange lots of documents every day with other German places still using Microsoft Office.
The word "compatible" has a special meaning in the computer industry: good enough for salesmen but not good enough for actual screen bashers.
So Libre Office will not be a practical choice until the vast majority are using it.
Re: What's the Gravity on it?
On Earth, the weight of a unit mass is GM/(R**2).
This becomes proportional to GM**(1/3).
The new exoplanet is described as 'rocky', with mass at 3.2*M. If its average density is similar to Earth, gravity at its surface will be greater by 1.47. But who cares about gravity if you live in an ocean?
Re: Keeping it that way
During WW2 my dad was a radar technician in the RN. He told us of one ship where, as soon as they had left port, people in his position were ordered to do normal sailor duties.
There are such people in the armed forces -- not too many of them, one hopes. "Man management with discipline" is the key phrase.
Dutch cops hope to cuff 'hundreds' of suspects after snatching server, snooping on 250,000+ encrypted chat texts
Web Foundation launches internet hippie manifesto: 'We've lost control of our data, it is being used against us'
Re: Lack of a secret ballot is a greater problem
The polling number is on the back of the ballot paper. When the papers are being counted, they are kept face-up so the candidates and their agents lurking behind those doing the counting do not see the polling number. Traditionally the only time the polling number is reconnected to the voter ID is when there are court actions over the vote.
Postal votes are slightly different. As they are received in the days before the election, they are vetted by election staff and then put into a ballot box ready for counting. As a candidate myself, I have wondered what checks there are on that vetting. The candidates are not invited to oversee things for obvious reasons. Does the Electoral Commission do any overseeing here?
It has happened before. Religious nutters destroyed the School of Euclid and the Library of Alexandria. Here's hoping the books of Euclid will still be in use when all the religious books are forgotten.
I as a single man paying just about the maximum in British taxes feel that the education budget on STEM subjects is achieving nothing and is, unfortunately, a total waste of MY money.
However, I suspect it is a cunning plan by our invisible galactic overlords to prevent us from reaching a point where we might challenge them.
Britain, typically, put Isaac Newton on the lowest denomination banknote -- £1. Then they abolished that note and replaced it with a cheap coin: the brass sovereign.
West Germany put Carl Friedrich Gauss on their smallest banknote, the ten Deutsche Mark note. I would have expected more respect for scientists from them. Then they abolished the DM, replacing it with the Euro.
Re: "Ethernet is so much better"
You mention 100baseT.
I was once monitoring ethernet links with an oscilloscope. I forget exactly why, but it might have been an attempt to monitor how quickly a particular system would respond.
The 10Base2 was baseband signalling. The 100 megabit link was a modulated signal; all we could see was a carrier.
Re: So much for 'digital by default'...
The issue is not security; the big boys are not interested in the security of the common man. The issue is the cost of supporting 57 varieties of old and new browsers.
It would not be a problem if the web pages used just static text and pictures. But no, it has to be all-singing all-dancing technology to support what the b****y advertisers want.
The European Parliament allows members to use their own EU language, and a team of interpreters provides translations into the others. The members know that they have to pause for the interpreters. The result is that oratory is destroyed.
It is possible to simultaneously listen to the speaker with one ear and to one of the interpreters via a headphone; but that causes remarkable brain strain.
When I made an exchange trip with a German boy, his mother told me a story. One day the teacher in her class said to her and another girl that they had not yet joined the Hitler Youth. They took the hint, that day.
That is how things are done under such regimes. Lucky are the countries where people are unaware of such matters.
Apache OpenOffice, the Schrodinger's app: No one knows if it's dead or alive, no one really wants to look inside
Re: "The guy who wrote the update"
In my career in the software industry I never saw QA get their hands dirty actually doing an independent code check. Their excuse was that their function is to ensure procedures have been followed. All known mistakes documented in triplicate, meetings minuted, actions acted upon, documents duly signed off.
Good paperwork is proof of a good product, is it not?
files are for everyone
If I understand you correctly you are saying that each app should have its private file area. If I have misunderstood, apols.
I disagree about each app having its separate area. In MS Office, for example, there is one area for Outlook/your data, and another area for One Note/your data. Other commenters have also noted that documents may be needed by many different apps.
Like everyone else, my 'My Documents' gets filled with directories for Outlook, One Note, Data Sources, etc. My answer is to create 'My Documents\Ownfiles', and then various directories below that. It keeps things reasonably clean.
The Miller experiment showed that a mixture of amino acids and other small organic molecules is readily formed. Since then these compounds have been observed in meteorites and interstellar dust.
The unanswered question is how do you get from such a mixture to DNA and proteins. Perhaps via RNA, but it is still a question of how do you get to RNA. The analogy is with how do you turn a pile of bricks, doors and windows into a house? Pushing the analogy further, did things start with a tent that then somehow turned into a house?
It has been suggested that clay played a part; or that a primitive "soup", very dilute, somehow reacted with hot rocks reached through cracks in the ocean floor. Neither of these options would be available on a gas giant planet.
Singular Note for MSFT
I have been using One Note since Office 2010 to create new documents, if I am not sure what the final shape of the document will be, and if it needs items of information to be drawn from various sources and held in a file that is easy to organise and navigate.
I was recently working on a Windows 10 machine with Office 2016. This had both the Windows One Note and the Office One Note. The Windows version is crippled in comparison with the Office version, particularly in exporting files in various formats.
I hope Microsoft will not axe the features of Office One Note.
What we really need is a Libre One Note, that MS will be unable to ignore.
This domain loss also happened to a small charity I am involved with. No warning, one day there it was, gone! Most of my colleagues there are not computer people, and I do not want to be the computer slave of every organisation I join.
Most other businesses are used to the polite reminder, followed if necessary by the cough-up-in-seven-days letter.
Re: Lack of maintance
I am involved with a small voluntary group which has a Wordpress website. Over the years, we either have nobody who wants to really run our website, or else an enthusiast who takes it in a direction not all of us agree with.
The site is with a hosting company. We hope they know what they are doing in relation to the problems this article reports.
In her later years my mother was very deaf, and the telephone therefore useless (she could not even hear it ring). She was too old to adapt to computers, although as a young civil servant she had been the only one in the office who could operate the telex machine.
A fax machine worked brilliantly for her, to keep in touch with family, the doctor's surgery, and the social services.
I have stood for election to my local council in England, and was therefore one of those "party scrutineers" you mention. The people counting the ballot papers are a mixture of council officials and others such as bank tellers, used to sorting and counting slips of paper.
Those counting people are instructed to ignore useless and irrelevant interjections from the party scrutineers. The counting process is simple if just one councillor is to be elected, but becomes complicated in a large ward that elects two or three councillors.
Some ballot papers are queried. This ranges from the one that used ticks instead of crosses, to the one that just said "s*d off". A council official will gather representatives from all the parties to decide these cases. Where the voting intention is clear, it is usually granted. In the cases I saw, it would not have affected the result, but in a marginal seat there exists an escalation procedure.
I doubt that an electronic process could replace all that.
There were many "think tank" types of reasons for joining "the greatest alliance in history". But ordinary English folk have always instinctively felt that there was something not quite right.
Compare that "greatest alliance" with the United States: its parliament is ineffective compared with Congress; and it is effectively run by EU civil servants rather than by elected politicians. Fifty years after it started in 1957 it needed a new constiution (just as the US is on number two). But all we got was more of the same.