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Comment Re:Wouldn't this lead to Natural Selection? (Score 1) 169

The problem arises when the internet is wrong. For instance, just yesterday I was setting up Postgres* (something I haven't done before) and ran into an error about peer authentication when trying to run psql as root. If you google this, pretty much all the results tell you to set the authentication type to 'trust' for the postgres account, which effectively disables any kind of checking for local access to an account with superuser permissions to the database, creating a privileged escalation vulnerability. It took me about half an hour to find out about user name mapping and get it to work.

And as someone pointed out the other day, this is especially rampant with certain languages. e.g. PHP.

Googling a problem is certainly an important step for getting ideas, but sometimes it's worthwhile reading the docs and figuring it out from first principles, because quite often understanding and checking the code can take as long as writing it.

Comment Re:Here's what I heard: (Score 1) 83

It doesn't matter which is cheaper if Linux can only play a very small subset of the games. I certainly wouldn't spend $200+ on a video card and then limit myself in my game selection by refusing to spend an extra $100 on the OS.

Personally, I've never actually been able to get Linux to run properly on arbitrary hardware that I happened to own. I'm sure you could put together a machine with specific hardware that is known to work well with Linux, but if you just pick random parts off the shelf based on performance needs, odds are you'll run into some difficulties trying to get everything working under Linux.

Counter-point: I just spent $500 on a graphics card, and my gaming system is single-boot Linux. Now to be fair, I do play quite a few games through WINE (though fewer than I used to), but the proportion of games which are Windows only and unplayable in WINE isn't as high as it used to be. I did get an Nvidia card (GTX 970) though, mainly because AMD's drivers have such a poor reputation under Linux.

That time spent researching whether or not the parts will actually work with Linux is easily worth the cost of buying a Windows license and just knowing that everything will work as expected.

There's plenty of hardware that doesn't work well under Windows too, either because of driver bugs or because the hardware itself has a design flaw (e.g. the GTX 970 memory architecture). Ultimately you need to do some research no matter what your OS is, if you're going to build the system from scratch. (And if not, the Steam machines are equivalent to a pre-built Windows system.)

Comment Re:Blacksmiths (Score 1) 255

This used to be true with programming too, there weren't many tools so you had to write your own or modify someone else's (and you shared them with others). If a new type of computer came out you would port the tools are maybe even write some from scratch. Today the kids can't even begin to imagine this: if there's not a button on their IDE's to do what they want then they don't do it, they don't bother learning a scripting or shell languages to do what they need. I mean it's a frigging computer, the whole point of it is to be able to program it to do what you want it to do!

I'd argue it still is, to a large extent. I'm fresh out of uni, but I (and several of those I graduated with) used Vim/Emacs as their (DIY) IDE of choice.

(FWIW, my course spanned Java, Python and C, and only for Java did we use an IDE (Eclipse).)

Comment Re:Predictable cadence? (Score 1) 95

Oh well, it's time to:
$sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
$sudo pacman -Syu
#emerge -uva --deep --newuse --keep-going @world
$sudo yum up

The third one above is my patch tuesday, wednesday and probably thursday 8) My laptop is starting to cook my bollocks, compiling LibreOffice.

I run Sabayon, you insensitive clod! :P

Comment Re:Return codes? (Score 1) 253

Return values are handled oddly in pretty much every major language. Many API calls want to return something simple- int or bool- and if anything is more complex than that, generally require an actual data structure to be returned, often as a reference. This means that the "I didn't do this" action has a variety of ways to be be passed back- none of them even close to standard.

If something returns a distance, magnitude, or size, "0" normally means "Error, nothing happened" which is often the same as "Sure, I wrote 0 bytes. Really."
If something needs to distinguish between success ("I did the thing 0 times as requested" and failure "I couldn't do the thing because of an error condition"), then sometimes a -1 is returned, or an exception thrown, or something else.

This is true of mostly just C, though it does get used a little in C++ as well. (To be fair, C-family languages are the majority of popular languages.)
Most high-level languages use exceptions, and Haskell (and to a lesser extent, Rust) use the Maybe type so that the type system forces error checking to occur.

Comment Re:Are these the Germans... (Score 1) 189

pfft. You've never managed a Linux web server. Especially one running gawd damned wordpress.

Judging by the entries in my log files, a very simple but effective mitigation technique would be to run wordpress under a path like /blog instead of the root directory - most attempts are just blindly searching for vulnerabilities at the default path.

Comment Re:There are more reasonable alternatives (Score 1) 128

Some options for a systemd desktop OR server Linux system:

  • Devuan - a fork of Debian with systemd removed (
  • Arch + Openrc (
  • Gentoo + Openrc (
  • Funtoo (

and many more. All of which many find to be much more suited for servers than Fedora or Debian with systemd.

Honestly, even with systemd[1] Gentoo is actually a pretty awesome distro for a server; definitely better than Debian. The compile-times are less of an issue since most of the really large programs aren't ones you'd install on a server (chrome, libreoffice), and being able to install any of the last N stable versions (sometimes side-by-side using slots) of a package is pretty convenient when you have third party software. The way configuration files are updated after an upgrade instead of during is also much more convenient, and the stable branch is also significantly more up-to-date than Debian's.

[1] While I use systemd on my own system and find it works well for me, I can easily understand why some people would prefer to stick with one of the alternatives (at least until all the bugs get ironed out).

Comment Re:Dream laptop. (Score 1) 46

Last I heard there were no plans for a new FX chip.

It's a little unclear if it'll be part of the FX lineup, but apparently AMD will be releasing a new line of CPUs next year under the codename Zen. The core count will go up to 16, so it sounds like it'll definitely be a spiritual successor to the FX line, even if it's not part of it. (That is, it could actually be competitive against an i7.)


Comment Re:Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes (Score 1) 285

The impressive part of the tab completion of Powershell is how context sensitive it is. When I typed the where command, I entered -p and it expanded it to -Property (although just -p would work too). But the fun part was that I could then type e and then go through the list of property names that are returned from the dir command that begin with the letter e; first Exists, then Extension. So it was aware what was being passed to the where command on the pipeline and returning the correct properties for that object.

It's worth noting that this is also available in zsh, which (I believe) has always been more feature heavy than bash.

(Not to say it isn't cool that Powershell can do that, merely that bash probably isn't the best comparison.)

Comment Re:albeit costing three times as much (Score 1) 126

The result was I paid $200 for an FX-8350, which probably wasn't AMD's fastest chip at the time

Maybe not, but close - the FX-8370 is just a slightly better binning of the same part.

I remember all of the benchmarks compared it to the i7, which of course trounced it.

Funny thing about that - there were some pretty major discrepancies at the time between benchmarks done using Intel's compiler and those done using GCC. When using GCC, the FX smoked the i7 - it wasn't until the next generation (or possibly the one after that) that the FX started to lag behind. Even today it's reasonably competitive (if not faster than) against Haswell i5s.

The FX-9590 doesnt seem to be a significant step up in performance from the 8350.

The FX-9590 isn't even a step-up - it's the exact same part, overclocked ridiculously (hence the 220W TDP). It's a stop-gap measure by AMD to try and disguise the fact that the FX line-up hasn't been updated in years.

I'm planning an upgrade myself atm, and as much as I prefer AMD, they're literally a non-option to me (even with the sticker shock from i7 prices). I hope Zen goes well for them, because otherwise Intel has a monopoly on high-end CPUs...

Comment Re:Heart valves? Refrigerators? Pah! (Score 1) 65

You don't need pressure to write with a fountain pen -- at all. (The modern competitor is a rollerball, not a ballpoint; rollerballs don't give you amount of flexibility on nib grind or opportunities for flex and shading effects that you get with a fountain, but at least you're not forced to use tons of pressure). Allows different, more comfortable grips.

I'll second this - using a fountain pen is worth it just for the ergonomics alone. Before I used (not inexpensive) rollerballs, and even then my hand would be hurting after a test or exam, but with a fountain pen I could easily write for more than double the time. It also worked out cheaper too - a $10 bottle of ink with a $20 pen lasted me the duration of my 6 year course, and the bottle is only half-empty.

Comment Re:App Permissions ring hollow (Score 1) 83

The App Permissions seem to be missing the crucial ability to deny internet access to an app. There are apps where network data connectivity is the problem. Similarly, I wonder if Google will have this permission setting capability on its internal applications. I know that I have a rather tightly worn tin foil hat when it comes to Google and the information they get, but the Xprivacy 'deny' list on my phone is a mile long, and that's with most of their apps frozen or forcibly pulled out, I find that Google's data access on the platform demands a tight leash, leading the 'privacy' and 'permissions' charge to ring of hypocrisy - "we'll make sure that only we have your location" doesn't mean much to me :/

The ability to block internet access would effectively block ads. On the plus side, there are plenty of firewall apps in the Play store (though they do require you to have a rooted device).

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.