September 27, 2004

fox hunting ban failed

I am not talking about that it will not stop animal cruelty, and will probably not even stop fox hunting. I'm talking about the real reason that the bill to ban fox hunting was rushed through parliment. It was rushed through just before the Labour conference as an obvious way of trying to fob off the Labour party members with a little "toff bashing" (As as Tony's Islington focus groups where consered all fox hunters were by definition upper class), in order not to upset the message coming from the last party conference before the election. Looks like he underestimated both their inteligence and integrity as Iraq has been voted onto the agenda.

September 24, 2004

EU software patents directive delayed

It looks like there may be a clue dawning as the EU may not be going to implement software patents. Software patents have already been removed from the directive by the European Parliment, which was then ignored (oh what a wonderful democratic intitution the EU is), but now the council of minsters may have realised that how much it would screw their software industries and hand them over to a few multinational corporations.

nutty 9/11 conspiracy

here is an extremely wird conspiracyGeorge Bush ordered 9/11. As with all conspiracies it requires you to beleive that the conspiritors where supremely confindent of their abilities (possible), and their confindence was justified. This is George Bush we are talking about here, the guy is so dumb I'm suprised he figured out how to breath. The idea that he would be able to organise this, carry it out, and keep it quiet is laughable. Nixon couldn't cover up that he was ordered the break in of his opponents offices, Clinton couldn't cover up that his unusual cigar holder, could bush really do this when these infinitly more cunning people could not?

September 23, 2004

the net is adictive

Internet junkies in chilling cold turkey experiment. Oh well, add that to the list.

September 22, 2004

Air Force Times - News - This Week's Air Force Times

From Air Force Times: "for significant chunks of time, Bush did not report for duty at all". This does not have any relationship to meno's or anything else. War presedent Bush deserted his post, the post that had been bought for him with his dad money and Texas connections.

September 21, 2004

Microsoft software implicated in air traffic shutdown

Microsoft software implicated in air traffic shutdown there was human error envolved to be fair, a technician had forgotten to restart the computers after the allotted 30 day limit.

Having to shut down your vital air traffic control software every 30 days is not exactly a good thing. But the "data overload" bit sounds like they have a memory leak somewhere in the system to me. What caused this, Windows or the custom software, is not mentioned. But even if it is the custom software I expect moving from a UNIX platform had something to do with it as the engineers that originally designed it would not have as much experience with Windows and would therefore be more likely to make mistakes.

In a few years time I bet we will be seeing the same thing happen with the Royal Navy's use of Windows for warships. That is if the whole use of Windows wasn't a ploy to pump the costs up in order to get more money out of the government before switching back to the platform they know after finding Windows isn't up to the job.

September 16, 2004

Iraq war illegal, says Annan

On the Today Program this morningKoffi Annan said Iraq war was illegal. This has been pretty obvious for quite some time, and the dubious legality was pointed out at the time mainly by the Liberal Democrats. Perhaps this will force Tony Blair to release the advice that he was given from that convinced him that this was a legal war. If indeed he did believe that it was legal rather than simply 'right' within his moral system.

To be fair if you listen to the interview Mr Annan was being pressed quite a bit to say that it was an illegal war. There was also an interview with Colonel Tim Collins, who was accused of war crimes by an American officer and later cleared, about the planning for what was going to be put in place after the fall of Saddam. Or rather the complete absence of any planning for what was going to be put in place after the fall of Saddam. Except of course for giving vast amounts of money to Halliburton, which used to be run by the Vice President.

eBay item 5520840982 (Ends 22-Sep-04 14:57:15 BST) - BUY MY SOUL! one careful owner

What is the price of your immortal soul? £210 apparently. The church should take note.

September 15, 2004

BBC NEWS | Magazine | Growing up gay in Jamaica

The BBC is running a story about Growing up gay in Jamaica and the persecution that that entails, daily intimidation, beatings, even murder. Of course all with the support of the church and government.

Most of the appologists where trotting out the old arguments that the bible bans homosexuality, if it does so what? It also bans eating shellfish[Leviticus 10-12], and women wearing trousers. Genocide however is fine [Deuteronomy 7:1-2] as is killing children and child sex slaves [Numbers 31:1-18]. Should we really be using this kind of book as any kind of moral guide?

Computer Languages

There are certain languages are better than others at certain tasks. However some languages are simply better than others. Here is a short explanation of what I think makes a good language.

It should be able to express everything that you want, and express it easily. If it is not Turing Complete it is not good. If it requires sublanguages to express certain common things in a simple way then there are problems with the design. If these sublanguages end up Turing Complete themselves then the design has a major problem and requires a carefull look to exise the offending part. An example of this would be static typing in object orientated languages. The main statically typed object orientated languages (c++, c#, Java) all require a Turing Complete sublanguage to get around their static typing (generics or templates), whereas the dynamically typed object orientated languages do not (SmallTalk, Objective C, and all the 'scripting' languages).

Succinct syntax:
This is not about simply the number of characters that you have to type for each intruction (if it where I would have to recomend Forth personally I would recomend amputating your hands rather than Forth), it is also about the number of syntax constructs SmallTalk can express anything with only haft a dozen syntax constructs. For example to access a data structures feilds in c, c++, and objective c you use . except if you are accessing via a pointer where you use -> pointers do not have fields, they are just simple numbers. It is obvious that you are try to access a structures fields, the complier should be able to figure that out, as it does in d, Java, and c#. Likewise in c you have to define all of your methods twice, once in the program and once in the headers. Why?

Self consistent syntax:
Once the language sets up it's rules, it should stick to them. If it needs to break them then there is obviously a problem with the rules. For example Java says no to operator overloading, except in the case of string concatination. operator overloading can caurse problems, like dynamic typing, but it is sometimes very useful, as the Java designers found to their cost.

Easy readability:
Some languages, such as Forth, are simply not human readable. Everything else can be made as readable, or unreadable as the programmer wants. This is not to say they are all the same as some will lean towards being easier to read, such as Python which was designed with this in mind, and some will lean towards being hard to read, such as Perl, which was designed so you can write it quickly with lots of short cuts.

Code reuse:
A good language lets you reuse working code that you have written before. It also lets you easily adapt that code. In object orientated languages this is often done by inhertance, you create a new object based on one you have used previously, and you should be able to replace whatever bits in the old object that you need with bits in the new object. You should not have to explicitly decide what bits of the old object might be replaced at some point in the future by things you haven't written yet, or even know that you are going to write. For example in c++ you can only override methods that are declared virtual, so if in some other future project you need to override one of the non-virtual methods you have to edit and recompile that object.
This also means that there is a pile of other peoples code orgainsed in a way that makes it easy to find the bit you need that you can reuse. Such as CPAN makes up for much of waht is wrong with Perl by minimising the amount you actually have to write.

September 13, 2004

60 Minutes Report on Bush's Guard Service Referenced Falsified Memos? ||

It appears that the only evidence that "war president" Bush actually served in the National Guard was faked, after daddy paid so much money to buy him a place turns out to be put together in Word. Bush has put his entire campaigne on the back of being a strong martial leader, he can't exactly campaigne about his economic leadership being the first President since Hoover to have more people unemployed at the end of his term than the beginning. He and his vice president have been viscious in condemming decorated Veit Nam veteran John Kerry for being not the right choice to lead the country in war time. The fact that he said that the war was over months ago, and it was a war that he himself started, do not seem to matter. Perhaps when he is proved to have deserted from a very comfortable post to get drunk and snort more cocaine whilst his rival actually got some experience of combat it will make a difference. If not then hopefully someone will kill the fucker sooner rather than later.

The son and widow of the officer that was supposed to have written the order is questioning there authenticity. The son, himself a Captain in the National Guard said "No officer in his right mind would write a memo like that."

The opinion of the person that runs the Selectric Typewriter Museum, the type of type write that could have been used if the memo was real, its a fake.

The opinion of typesetting expert Dr Phillip Bouffard. After exaustlive analysis, at least 90% Positive They're Fake.

September 10, 2004

Only in America

The families of the people shot by the Washington Sniper have sued the makers of the gun he used and the shop that sold it to him for compensation. This could only happen in america, both the crazy amount of litigious people out there who see money == blame, and the crazy people that see gun == good.

However this country flowing into violence, or at least the perception of violence with 90 percent of parents wanting random searches on school kids for drugs and weapons. So they are going to make the many feel oppressed so that a vanishingly small threat can be avoided. Personally I would prefer it if sociaty made them less likely to carry weapons.

Also from the BBC Intel thinks it has a solution to the problem of malware on the iinternet. Rebuild it using massive amounts of new, and expensive, hardware (from Intel). I have a different solution, try and get people to stop connecting to it while using Microsoft products which are the propogators of practically all mallware today. Of course Intel arn't going to say that the root course of the problem is their partner not being able to design a secure operating system to save their lives. - Exploring the Future of Computing

lovely post counterblasting the OSS zealots out there "Hi, I'm Zoss, the open source zealot. I have no idea what roles Trusted Solaris is intended for, and I don't care. Fancy pants government certifications don't mean anything to me, because I don't know what they are. All I know is that OpenBSD is better, because OSS must be better, and if you think it isn't I can name about 200 whiz bang features that OpenBSD has that I bet Trusted Solaris doesn't, although I certainly don't know because I've never used Solaris in my life. But after all, all the smartest minds in the world are working on OSS, right? And who can match that? No company, no siree! I don't care that OpenBSD can't run on any recent Sun hardware because it doesn't support UltraSPARC III, in fact, I'm ANGRY at Sun for not releasing the specifications to the UltraSPARC III processor without an NDA! I don't really care if they would allow the OpenBSD developers to see them under NDA, because NDAs are bad. Information wants to be free, that's what Richard Stallman says. I will rabidly support Theo de Raadt and Richard Stallman. Any time I see an evil proprietary technology being touted everywhere, I will viciously remind everyone that there's open source alternatives, even if they aren't remotely applicable or practical for the application at hand."

September 09, 2004

WinFS - Vapourware for over 10 years

I normally don't rate the Independents technology coverage that highly, but they have just put out quite an interesting article on WinFS detailing how Microsoft have wanted to produce something like it since Windows 95, but have been unable to. And are still unable to.

September 08, 2004

The Onion / CHAK | Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over'

Fact is stranger than fiction, in a sarcastic diatribe the Onion published a peice in 2001 that now looks like almost prophetic predicting what Bush would do which has now been helpfully hyperlinked with sourceshere.

Another of Bushes gaffes, Bush is pro rape "We've got an issue in America. Too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."

Cheney lies about Kerry terror record

Having thrown away the unique international alliance against terrorism that formed in the wake of 9/11 in order to steal the oil of Iraq. As the 1000th US soldier dies in Iraq and everyday bringing more, and more audations, kidnappings by islamic terrorists Dick Cheney is claiming that electing John Kerry would make america more likely to be attacked by terrorists. Well what can you expect? They have done nothing positive during the last four years, turning the suplus bequiethed by Bill Clinton into the largest deficit in history having given his rich friends a enormous tax break in order to restart the economy, which hasn't worked making George the first presedent since Hoover to have the number of people employed fall during his term in office.

Serb schools told to drop Darwin

From the BBCSerb schools have been told to stop teaching evolution and that they can only teach it if they also teach creationism. Dumb, dumb, dumb people, standing shoulder to shoulder with the US as it marches into the dark ages of theocratic nonsense.

very funny

Cool image discovered at B3ta by Mushroom

September 07, 2004

Royal Navy will run on Windows for Warships

Royal Navy will run on Windows for Warships This is an extremely bad idea. Their engineers know UNIX, but the bean counters have decided to change to Windows for some mythical cost savings. Or that their desktops run windows and they don't know that any other operating system exists. Surely if they are going to change operating systems using a real RTOS (such as QNX) would be a better choice. It is going to cost one hell of a lot more in the long run.

The Royal Navy is likely to want to keep this system running for a very long time, which brings problems since Microsfot will not want to support it for anything like as long, and while they can get the source from Microsoft if they really need to under Microsofts Government Security Program. I am not sure if this lets them patch the source, or if it is like the look but don't touch Shared Source.

As some people commented about the availability of open source UN*X source code adversly affecting security should realise this is not only the British govenment but all of our potential adversaries. Not only govermental adveraries but also anyone with an internet connection. If you want the source code you will be able to get it.

Security through obscurity is not a good idea, and has been known not to be a good idea for more than a century. With sufficent motivation anyone will be able to get the source.

The Type 45 Destroyers that this is for are coming into service rather close to the end of life times for Windows 2000, so this is going to be a problem. Especially as they are likely to last for decades. During all of whcich time they are going to have to pay for support at more than market rate as the opertating system is no longer supported by Microsoft.

The first is due to enter service in 2007 and will be named HMS Daring, the second and third are to be HMS Dauntless and Diamond respectively and these should be in service by 2009

End of life dates

Date of General Availability

March 31, 2000

Direct OEM and Retail License Availability (end date)

March 31, 2004

System Builder License Availability (end date)

March 31, 2005

Mainstream support for most versions of Windows 2000 expires at the end of 2005, and Extended support was to expire at the end of 2007. (Dates for Windows 2000 Datacenter Edition trail the dates of other versions by three months.) Under the new guidelines, Extended support has been moved out to 2010.

This is not a situation where computer instability is acceptable. The United states navy tried using Windows before and had to have the ship towed back into harbour.

They have experience with UNIX, their system works on UNIX. They can use the same cheaper parts (not cheap parts, as they can't risk suffering instability via bad hardware) with UNIX as with Windows. This is not a back office system. This system is the combat control system, not a few laptops for the Jacks to play with. If it goes down in combat people will die. The time required to restart their missile control computer was one of the reasons that HMS Sheffield ended up manoavouring into a position that got them sunk in the Falklands War.

Microsoft themselves don't recomend Windows for this kind of situation. Surely if they are going to change operating systems using a real RTOS (such as QNX) would be a better choice. Something make me think this is going to be another IT fiasco.