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Comment Re:And this is why my primary browser isn't Firefo (Score 1) 156

Flash hasn't been a favoured form of malware transmission for years. There are much easier targets these days, with click-to-play protection for plug-ins now being the norm in all major browsers.

Meanwhile, millions and millions of people still benefit from Flash apps every day, and all of those people are going to lose out.

Comment Re:And this is why my primary browser isn't Firefo (Score 3, Interesting) 156

Flash isn't any sort of standard except in the limited sense that it is used on a lot of web sites.

And, until recently, more widely available and consistent across platforms than just about any official web standards other than HTML 4, CSS 2.1 and HTTP. In other words, Flash was a standard in the only way that really matters: it worked the same almost everywhere. Which, by the way, is far more than can be said for many of the new shiny toys that are supposed to replace it.

It's a proprietary, closed source plugin and application; the precise opposite of a standard.

Well, for one thing, that isn't anything like the precise opposite of a standard.

As for proprietary, closed source, and running as a separate process, have you looked at how HTML5 video works on iOS lately? Or the uses of EME, which is now a W3C standard? Or the number of different encodings you need to create to do something as simple as playing a video across most browsers in 2016, compared to the exactly one you needed with any number of Flash video players before?

This so-called "standard" exists solely at the whim of one company, Adobe, and they can do whatever they wish with it without regard to its users or anyone else.

How is that fundamentally different to all the major browsers pushing substandard HTML5 features instead because Google decides Chrome will do so and everyone else apparently feels the need to emulate them? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss (except that now you can't even see what the old boss was like any more because all the records are inaccessible).

Comment Re:And this is why my primary browser isn't Firefo (Score 2) 156

I don't see HBI saying anything of the sort. They're saying that browsers discontinuing support and thus making content on the Web inaccessible to their users is a bad thing.

And they're absolutely right.

The trend for modern browsers to drop support for any standard more than five minutes old, and in doing so cut off huge amounts of valuable content developed over multiple decades, is exactly the opposite of what the Web is supposed to be about.

Comment Re:The price hike is minimal... (Score 1) 450

Never underestimate the value of a large existing customer base. Many of the largest and most successful businesses in tech today got there by amassing a critical mass of customers in the right place at the right time, and then using that scale as a lever to reach economies of scale and degrees of bargaining power that no smaller competitor could rival.

FWIW, I also think the audio streaming comparison you seem to be implying is a little unfair. Audio streaming services aren't just replacing listening to broadcast radio, they're replacing buying records and tapes and CDs as the primary way many people enjoy audio recordings. Licensing to commercial radio stations very cheaply or even at a loss was viable because exposure on those radio stations drove sales of permanent copies. It's unrealistic to expect that a streaming service that basically exists to replace those sales could offer the same kind of flexibility to much the same market for an entire catalogue of music at anything close to the licensing fees that commercial radio stations used to pay, if they even paid at all.

Comment Re:Nice example of fascism from the EU justice cou (Score 2) 48

None is exactly what additional protection we'll get from the EU after Brexit.

Though we'll still be a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, which is independent of the EU, has its own court, and does not have the associated political shenanigans the UK pulled in relation to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights that is at issue here.

Comment Re:The price hike is minimal... (Score 3, Interesting) 450

Voting the parent a troll seems rather unfair. It's a pretty accurate summary of the problem for Netflix: the gaps might not be their fault in some cases, but they're still the ones asking their customers for money and providing a disappointing experience in return.

I'm a little surprised they aren't in a position to play hardball in some of these cases. There aren't that many places that are going to show reruns of older TV shows and generate significant extra licensing revenues from it, and it seems like if they insisted they would only work with rightsholders who would licence shows in their entirety on a long-term basis, they could turn that into a marketing advantage over any competitors who did not.

Comment Re:She seem like a commie... (Score 1) 227

Cabinet ministers are appointed by the Prime Minister, and can be dismissed just as easily. The principle of collective responsibility among the Cabinet is considered very important in our politics, and anyone breaking it almost certainly would be out of the Cabinet soon afterwards.

The now-ex minister would still be an MP -- the PM has no power to fire someone elected by their constituents from Parliament -- and they could still freely criticise whatever they wanted from the back benches. But the honourable way to do that as an MP is to resign from the Cabinet first so it's clear that you're not speaking for the government any more. Giving a public resignation statement explaining why you can't support the Cabinet's position is also common practice.

Comment Re:She seem like a commie... (Score 1) 227

But remember that May has been a member of the government since the coalition came to power in 2010. That means she was bound by the principle of collective responsibility among the Cabinet, so she will have voted in line with official government policy on just about everything. Her voting record in recent years is more an indictment of the overall government policy than a useful indication of her own views on most of those issues.

Comment Re:Surprise? Why? (Score 1) 348

It really is, in the sense that it allows all kinds of fine low-level control over the data you're working with. Pointers and aliasing, mutability by default, imperative programming style often with manually constructed control flows, global state and often shared state if concurrency is in use... These things all introduce ambiguity into the programmer's intent and so make unsafe the assumptions that would support lots of different optimisations.

In short, optimisation is usually not about the upper bound of where a language lives on the abstraction spectrum, but the lower bound.

Comment Re:Surprise? Why? (Score 1) 348

So we are discussing scientific code? General purpose code will not get huge advantages from advanced inlining etc.

I'm assuming we're talking about something where performance actually matters, for sure. If the problem doesn't require particularly efficient code given the speed of the system it's going to run on, it's probably not very useful to drop down to assembly anyway, nor to consider how well the code generator for a high level language optimises its output.

I don't know what you mean by fusion - the only thing that comes to mind is loop fusion.

It's a general category of optimisations used when you're composing multiple operations over the same stream, data structure, etc. A typical example might involve a programmer writing some list processing code as filtering with one function, composed with mapping with another function, composed with reducing using a third function to get the final answer. An optimising compiler might merge those operations into one space-efficient loop that calculates the final answer without ever generating the intermediate lists.

Put another way, fusion is similar in effect to applying some combination of inlining and loop-based optimisations in situation where you're composing multiple operations over data sets, with the goal of eliminating the storage of unnecessary intermediate values and the overheads of passing them around. It's particularly relevant with higher-level languages that describe their data crunching in functional terms, where a naive implementation is much slower than the fused version.

If you know assembly programmers who would routinely apply that degree of tight cross-function optimisation (and maintain the code well as the underlying functions evolved later) then I'll be both genuinely impressed at their diligence and somewhat disturbed at how much redundancy they must have in their code base.

I don't think there would be an hierarchy in the optimized case. IME compilers are very bad in handling the register-stack hybrid while assembly programmers are capable to handle them after a learning period.

I'm not sure that's entirely correct. Even when I did more work on these things a few years ago, compilers were already doing cross-function optimisation right down a call stack to optimise the use of the floating point register stack.

I brought this one up as another example where if you were writing the functions manually in assembly, you'd have to either devise your own custom calling conventions for every case (and so potentially reimplement the same functions multiple times) or accept less than optimal performance. As you point out, it's probably not the best example in the context of current CPUs, though.

Most code isn't compiled with whole-program optimization. In fact a huge amount of software are compiled with little optimization done.

Maybe, but then most code isn't developed with hand-tuned assembly for its hot spots either. I'm assuming that we're talking about performance-sensitive cases where that kind of effort would be justified, and that we're interested in which strategy is likely to give the best results in practice. My contention is that, in 2016 and on most modern CPUs, it is likely that using a high level language and a good optimising compiler will give better results than most people would achieve by dropping to assembly.

Comment Re:Surprise? Why? (Score 1) 348

I might believe you when I see a compiler that can do global compilation rather than rigidly adhering to some ABI spec, but until I do, I'm going to call bullshit on everything you say.

Good mainstream compilers have been doing that for well over a decade, and the best ones are much better at it than any human will ever be.

Comment Re:Surprise? Why? (Score 1) 348

Completely application dependent. What if your requirements are to operate 6 months on a single AA battery and the whole application is to shift out a 16byte sequence? There are about 20-50x more systems with requirements like this in the world than those that would require an atmel or arm chip.

That's quite a strong claim to make without any supporting data. I do a fair bit of work in the embedded space, as do many of my colleagues, and the overwhelming majority of that work in recent years has been with more powerful CPUs. Obviously our experience might not be representative of the wider industry, but we'd have to be extreme outliers if your figure is correct there.

That is not to say there isn't also a need for much simpler devices. However, in those cases you're probably programming them in assembly because that's all you've got and your logic is almost trivial. You're probably not writing assembly just because it's faster, which was the original claim in this discussion.

Comment Re:Surprise? Why? (Score 1) 348

True enough, and I agree it could sometimes be relevant. But looking at it the other way around, $5M spread out over 30 million widgets is only a few cents per widget, so unless your widgets are extremely price sensitive and your requirements extremely simple, this is unlikely to be a deciding factor.

I work with clients who develop various embedded systems, and I haven't actually seen a real world example of using a very simple, very cheap CPU in this way for probably more than decade now. YMMV depending on your industry, of course.

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