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Comment: Re:The first crappy language I encountered! (Score 1) 171

Basic was so bad, I learned assembler. And then PASCAL, and C, and many more.

(Pedant point: 'BASIC and Pascal' not 'Basic and PASCAL' - only one of them is an acronym).

Except that BASIC was an interpreted language that would fit into an 8K ROM with room to spare for a rudimentary OS, and happily run on a microcomputer with 4K of RAM and no disc drive. This was when a floppy disc drive and controller cost twice as much as the original computer. Try using a compiled language without a twin disc drive (possible, but no fun). Telling someone that they should be using Pascal on their ZX81 or Vic 20 is just plain stupid: Its like whaling on PHP without explaining how you get Tomcat, server-side Python or Haskell on Rails* running on your cheap/free shared web hosting package.

Anyhow, as soon as computers got more powerful, BASIC started to gain proper control structures, meaningful variable names, named procedures etc. and anybody with any aptitude started using them and/or other languages. The "BASIC is harmful" meme just means that BASIC made programming accessible and interesting to a far wider range of people who maybe weren't going to grow up to be master programmers.

And no, the true gem of really bad technology is bog-standard ISO Pascal - the one with no 'real time' screen/keyboard I/O, no defined way of associating a Pascal file with an actual file in any form of filing system apart from naming the file on the command line, and what was presumably a deliberate parody of the "goto" command (you can only jump to defined labels that have to be declared in advanced but which can only have numerical names...) There were, of course, decent, but nonstandard, implementations of Pascal - but I think C won because both K&R and ANSI specified a substantial library full of useful I/O and other stuff based on the Unix API.

(*I really hope that I just made that up)

Comment: Re:Joint IBM Microsoft Agreement .. (Score 3, Interesting) 171

It was the clone market that actually handed MS control of the IBM PC, neither of which parties could have foreseen.

"IBM recognizes that MS will be licensing the MS Product Offering 1.1 to third parties".

Methinks that whoever put that line in the contract had foreseen the clone market. Its very unlike the IBM of yore not to insist on exclusive control and it must have taken some effort to avoid that. If MS hadn't been able to license MS-DOS to the clone makers, they'd have had to license CP/M or clean-room their own DOS clone, which might have limited the clones' compatibility and certainly wouldn't have made money for Microsoft!

Comment: I think our namespace is getting too crowded... (Score 4, Funny) 153


Would that be named after the mobile broadband technology, the guitarist from U2 or Samsung's flagship smartphone? Why don't they give it a meaningful name that somehow relates to its function, like, er, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Mozilla, SeaMonkey... Oh, right. Failing that, why not the old, reliable pseudo Latin/Greek names: Webia, Browsium, internet startup names (MeWeb, WebBox, WeBrowse...) or even retro Unix names ('yawb', 'enie')?

Comment: Re:Restrictive workplace policy (Score 1) 267

by itsdapead (#49350351) Attached to: Generate Memorizable Passphrases That Even the NSA Can't Guess

only 3 incorrect attempts locks the account and requires a call to the outsourced IT in India

I think we can safely say that such a system will completely eliminate brute force password-guessing attacks. What's Hindi for "social engineering"?

Meanwhile, any suggestions for what to say to an IT department who, every time a phishing message comes round saying:

"Your account may have been compromised, please go to <a href="http://blackhats.phish.ru">www.youremployer.com</a> to confirm your security details."

...respond by sending round a message saying

"if you think you may be affected, please go to <a href="https://www.youremployer.com">www.youremployer.com;</a> to confirm your security details."

...because the people who fall for these know how to spot a dodgey hyperlink, right?

Comment: Re:Running only Windows on a Mac (Score 2) 209

by itsdapead (#49314701) Attached to: For Boot Camp Users, New Macs Require Windows 8 Or Newer

I've always been curious if there is ever going to be a clean way of running straight windows on a macbook air (ideally Windows 10).

Eh? "Bootcamp" is straight Windows. It isn't a virtualiser like VMWare or Parallels. Its just a point and drool wizard to set up a 'dual boot' system. If you want to do it manually I'm sure there are instructions out on the Interweb.

but still need the drivers..

Last time I looked, Bootcamp Assistant had an option to download the Windows drivers as a disc image.

Comment: Re:meanwhile (Score 1) 342

by itsdapead (#49284525) Attached to: UK Chancellor Confirms Introduction of 'Google Tax'

The typical libertarian who wants complete deregulation of *everything* but complains when Comcast is their only broadband choice.

Well, this is a UK law and I don't think we have Comcast here (unless some eejit has let them buy a stake in BT or Virgin Media).

Strangely, although the amount of regulation in the UK and EU is already enough to give a US libertarian complete apoplexy, we do mostly get something resembling choice when it comes to internet and phone service providers. Not brilliant, but the more I hear about the US mess, the more I appreciate what we have...

(Apologies to the good people of Kingston-on-Hull, of course).

Comment: Re:Impossible (Score 1) 286

by itsdapead (#49268583) Attached to: Elon Musk Pledges To End "Range Anxiety" For Tesla Model S

Because those who claim range anxiety want to have a "reason" for them thinking electric cars won't work

Nope, people who don't have range anxiety just have a use case where the range isn't an issue for them.

I'm not moaning about range because I don't want an electric car: I'm moaning about range because I would quite like an electric car, but paying 50-100% premium over a comparable ICE car (far more than you'd ever save in fuel costs) and then having to plan journeys around re-charges, or keep a second car or rent for long journeys just doesn't make sense.

Comment: Re:Or, it could be unrelated to actually extending (Score 5, Insightful) 286

by itsdapead (#49266233) Attached to: Elon Musk Pledges To End "Range Anxiety" For Tesla Model S

Of course, it could mean that.

No - your suggestions are all better. Unless they're going to download new laws of physics to the cars, the sort of incremental range improvement that a software update might bring is hardly going to end "range anxiety". Range anxiety isn't so much about the absolute range - its about the scarcity of recharging stations c.f. petrol, the time taken to recharge, the uncertainty of the quoted range and the need to be towed to a recharge station if you do run out.

Comment: If its so hard, your heart's not really in it... (Score 1) 1081

by itsdapead (#49260759) Attached to: How To Execute People In the 21st Century

If US society is so squeamish over the exact method of execution, it sounds to me that they're not really committed to the idea and probably shouldn't be doing it.

Arizona, for example, abandoned hangings after a noose accidentally decapitated a condemned woman in 1930.

Really? I thought the object of hanging was to break the victim's neck instead of strangling them, in which case this sounds like a resounding success - or did the baying crowds want to think that the victim had "just gone to sleep"?

I'm not a doctor, but I believe that pointing something called a "gun" at the subject and pulling the trigger a few times does the trick, is typically less unpleasant than many natural/accidental deaths and is already widely accepted as a method of dealing with foreign teenage conscripts who's governments threaten the stability of the oil market. Alternatively, every properly-run abattoir in the rest has a variety of efficient methods for killing large mammals with the minimum of suffering. If that's not acceptable then it suggests to me that you're not really 100% at ease with this whole "death penalty" thing and probably shouldn't be doing it.

Any society that wants the death penalty needs to be satisfied that "the end justifies the means" and understand that (a) there is no nice, guaranteed painless, dignified way to execute someone that won't go wrong from time to time and (b) you'll end up executing innocents occasionally. If you're not OK with that, don't do it.

Personally, if I were (rightly or wrongly) condemned to life imprisonment I'd like the coward's option - but not the USA version where, it seems, you rot in prison for a decade or two anyway and only then get dispatched by the sort of bizarre, theatrical method that a movie super-villain might dream up.

Comment: Re:"Water has a memory" (Score 2) 447

by itsdapead (#49249217) Attached to: Homeopathy Turns Out To Be Useless For Treating Medical Conditions

Here's a tip - homeopathic speaker cable - buy about 10 lengths of cheap doorbell wire. Then sneak into a HiFi shop and rub one piece against a length of $500-per-foot premium speaker cable. Go home and rub the first piece of cheap cable against the second piece - continue and then hook up your speakers with the 10th length of cable.

What happens is that the quantum entanglement caused by brief contact with the high end cable forms a virtual conduit for the frequencies blocked by the cheap cable. You will immediately notice the refined, fluid sound, with etherial shades of intonation and redefined rhythmic elements transformed by the absence of ionic turbulence in the cable, with hints of leather, liquorice and hollyhocks.

NB: you can also save money on expensive homeopathic medicines by simply choosing the right drinking water: Avoid mineral water that might have been sitting isolated in some underground aquifer for aeons - you want the stuff from the tap that fish have fucked in - its a near certainty that at least one molecule in that glass has been within 10 degrees of Kevin Bacon of whatever substance is causing your illness.

Comment: Re:Apple doesn't want to but may have to (Score 1) 392

by itsdapead (#49227195) Attached to: Does USB Type C Herald the End of Apple's Proprietary Connectors?

As mentioned elsewhere in here, Thunderbolt is fine as it's an open spec and is intended for different use cases than USB, and it also shares a port design with mini-Displayport (which we can thank Apple for openly releasing that connector standard).

Last I heard, Thunderbolt 3 was going to need a new connector anyway.

Meanwhile, USB-C seems to have ambitions to replace DisplayPort cables as well. If I'm reading it right, it can use some of the physical wires for DisplayPort while leaving the rest for USB3 - c.f. Thunderbolt which either switches the entire connector to legacy DisplayPort mode or requires a TB controller at the receiving end to extract the DisplayPort signal. So we might see USB-C displays with integral USB hubs, webcam, microphones that can also charge your laptop, all over a single cable. OK, Thunderbolt can do most of that, but it can't power the computer and AFAIK after 4 years of Thunderbolt there are a grand total of 2 Thunderbolt displays on the market (Apple's which hasn't been updated since 2011 and doesn't even have USB3, and one LG model that just offers a USB3 hub).

They'll release new models with USB-C along with every other manufacturer as then every user can complain equally for the next couple years that they need all new cables and chargers.

From what I've seen, though, Apple's Lightning is often built into speakers, stereos, alarm clocks, car mounts etc. as a 'dock' (that does happen with microUSB but not so often). Replacing those is rather more annoying than having to buy new cables or chargers.

Comment: Re:Apple (Score 4, Insightful) 51

Those Intel NUC makes the Apple Mac mini look like an Apple Mac Maxi.

Except the Mac Mini includes a built-in power supply, while the NUC needs an external power brick half as big as the computer.

Maybe this new processor will mean the future return of the quad-core mini, though.

Weekend, where are you?