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Nick Alcock
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Nick Alcock

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[1834705.781295] Clock: inserting leap second 23:59:60 UTC

So my machine did not lock up, hang, or crash last night. I am amazed.
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Tim Haynes's profile photoNoah Friedman's profile photoKoos van den Hout's profile photoNick Alcock's profile photo
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+Noah Friedman, we've seen livelocks, deadlocks, total stalls of time (well, not actual time, that would have been extremely surprising, but machine time), and even repeatedly reappearing leap seconds (we had one last month? let's have one this month too!) due to a hilarious consensus-messup distributed bug in ntpd. The problem is that this is very-rarely-exercised code deeply woven into extremely time-critical and continuously-running parts of the system which are under continuous optimization pressure. Nobody notices if they break the leap-second path until it's much too late...

This time, AIUI, all we had were a bunch of timers firing late.
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"King James Programming" wins again:

"15:4 And I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be latent in our type system."

I knew there was something modern languages were missing. Not enough serpents and cockatrices!
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Dan Lentz's profile photoNick Alcock's profile photoGert Sønderby's profile photo
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JavaScript has goblins in the lower layers. Things like [] + {} !== {} + [] and such. (That statement is true, as a whole...)
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There's a certain art to really well-crafted insults, and few are as good at them as Al Viro. Here's an excellent recent one (addressed to a notorious anti-Red Hat conspiracy theorist and kook who makes LWN a notably less pleasant place every time he posts):

"... you, sir, are an outstanding example of variability of our species. worthy of any curio cabinet, whatever the formalin might cost."
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God Emperor Lionel Lauer's profile photoNick Alcock's profile photo
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He's absolutely certain that RH is masterminding a huge conspiracy to corrupt Fedora from within. This seems like pointless conspiracizing to me, given that ordinary cognitive bias might well do the same, but hey.

(He's by far the least odious of the commenters on LWN. One in particular moved quite rapidly from describing interesting connections between IIRC Mandriva and various Russian investors to frothing against the evil Nazis who took over Ukraine and how they're being fought by the valiant forces of the Eastern Ukrainians and their entirely voluntary Russian forces assisting them with their freely acquired military-grade weapons. That rapidly veered into anti-Semitism (I didn't think it especially likely that Jews would join up with Nazis, but that is apparently what Putin's propaganda machine is now claiming) and then this commenter managed the singular honour of being only the second or third person to ever be permanently banned from commenting on LWN. Classy.

LWN used to be a charming collegiate place to comment, reminiscent of the TeX newsgroups, but not for some time. I think it all broke when the security guys with their contemptuous attitude and violently conspiratorial and adversarial frame of mind turned up. Did you know that Linus is masterminding a conspiracy to weaken the security of Linux because, uh, because, uh, they don't seem to have a plausible motive, but Brad Spengler seems sure that he is. His reasoning appears to be that Linus doesn't instantly do everything Brad and his anonymous PaXTeam cohorts want him to the instant Brad orders it (in the most unpleasant and venomous fashion imaginable): thus, since Brad is for security, Linus must be against it. Also Linus very occasionally removes things from commit messages that would make it too completely obvious that a fix is closing a security hole, to stop people looking through just-pushed commit logs from exploiting holes before a fix comes out in the -stable tree. This is apparently also evil in Brad's book, though it is quite unclear why.

Often, doing what Brad orders would destroy any actual development progress but be really secure -- a typical failure of security guys, they assume that security is absolutely all that ever matters and everything else must be subordinate to it. Other times it is simply impossible -- e.g. at times these people have requested every commit that ever introduces anything of security relevance to be annotated with a CVE number and full exploit, even if it's not known to be security-relevant at the time it's committed: if it's not known, presumably we must either get a time machine or hold off committing it until we know for sure! Since Linus doesn't go round editing other people's commits on an industrial scale and, y'know, has other things to do, that's never going to happen. The security guys would be welcome to do such things, but that would require them not to be arseholes who care so much about being first and so little about actual security of real systems that they have posted hashes of descriptions of vulnerabilities rather than the descriptions, purely so they can prove they were first when someone finds them later. WTF WTF.
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I am deeply unsurprised that rats can do well in the stock market. They probably think more deeply about what they're doing than a significant percentage of bond traders, and they have more immediate and more reasonable remuneration too.
 
Via +Andrew Oplinger, an experiment in training rats as bond traders. From the lab notebook:

The next step was the rats' training. I produced about 800 different ticker tracks of different market situations. Since I did not want to render the whole story too complicated, I only used the USD/EUR future to turn the rats into experts in this specific market segment: other rats though may be educated in other markets as well. The training took about three months. I started with 80 Sprague Dawley laboratory rats, 40 males and 40 females, with the intention to cross the best of them to genetically create the best traders through select breeding. The training environment was a so called Skinner Box, widely used in experiments and industry for behavioral experiments with animals. The rats were separately trained for five hours daily (thanks to Anna, Gerda, and Dirk who did a great job in the past months).

Every day the rats were confronted with 100 different ticker tracks; the goal was making them seek out sound-patterns that humans are not able to recognize and predicting the next market move after the last sound heard. ( I am currently working on a website enlisting human training programs as well).  Each time after listening to a sound, the rat had to choose between pressing either a green or a red button, green for "long" (if the prices were expected to move up), red  for "short" (if they predicted a decline in prices). When they were right they received a small amount of food (the good rats became fat very fast); when they took the wrong button, they received a minor electric shock. Very soon it showed that some rats were doing outstandingly well: they developed a good ability to remember the patterns they were listening to; we needed them to react to real time data.
art by michael marcovici
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Udenyi Patrick's profile photoNick Alcock's profile photo
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My first block. Udenyi Patrick: not just a crackpot but a boring crackpot.
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Seen on my most recent dental appointment card:

"Under NHS Regulations your dentist has the discretion to refuse to offer NHS treatment if".

So I'd better make sure I don't do that then.

(Note: this is probably meant to talk about missing appointments or something. It just... doesn't. Perhaps it really says "if you are not telepathic".)
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Di Cleverly's profile photoNick Alcock's profile photo
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+Di Cleverly, I'm used to colds. This is my second this year, which is so wonderful compared to my rate when I was commuting of about two a month.
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Today, kingjamesprogramming brings us one of the hidden sacred rites of the Church of the Lambda Calculus.
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g barry's profile photoDan Lentz's profile photoSimons Mith's profile photoJay Dugger's profile photo
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Until thy stack overfloweth, Amen
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Nick Alcock

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Mystifying statements of the day, from Anglian Water, talking about the need to flush the local water mains:

"The water that is flushed out of our mains is not wasted, but is returned to the environment through a network of sewage and drainage pipes."

Normally you'd think that water that went into the sewer without being used would be well-described as "wasted". You'd also have to wonder what on earth you could do to water that these people would describe as wasting it. If throwing it straight into the sewer doesn't count I'm not sure what does. Perhaps electrolyzing it, then venting the hydrogen directly to space?
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We are semi-arid -- we don't get much rainfall (by UK standards!). We are also a marsh kept dry only by dint of constant effort speeding water flow towards the sea.
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"I beseech you, in the bowels of Emacs" has no hits in Google.

Given the size and evilness of Emacs's bowels, this is really quite surprising to me.
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Jimmy Arogén's profile photoKieran Barry's profile photoNick Alcock's profile photo
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Nah. Emacs has dark and monstrous bowels beyond the reach of elisp. (elisp cannot see GCPRO or the conservative stack scanner that is these days used in preference, for instance. Nor can it see redisplay or the terrors of bidirectional text layout.)
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It's common for things to be described as 'exclusive' which just aren't, but this one takes the cake. The most excellent +Scientific American just sent me a renewal notice in which they said that 'as a member of our exclusive Automatic Renewal Program' I would get a subscription renewal.

One wonders just what that means. I think it must mean that nobody else operates a program precisely like this. Since almost every periodical on the face of the Earth operates an automatic credit-card-based renewal program this seems to be false on its face, but I think I need to be even more pedantic: no-one but Scientific American can automatically take money from my credit card in exchange for, uh, a Scientific American subscription.

This is completely unsurprising -- indeed anything else would be a titanic security hole -- and seems to leave the word 'exclusive' meaning nothing useful at all.

#pedantry  
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Nick Alcock's profile photoDan Lentz's profile photoDi Cleverly's profile photoXah Lee's profile photo
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Xah Lee
 
i really liked to like Scientific American, since in college in 1991. Read quite a lot of it in 1990s. But, i don't think i ever liked any articles from it, except some math creation columns. As much as i love science and technical writing about it, for some reason the writing style of SA i never found clear or enjoyable.
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So the polling percentages were almost exactly what people thought they would be before the Scottish referendum campaign entered its final weeks.

Again and again we see this -- not-close races which mysteriously transform into close ones through error of polling just when it would sell more newspapers, then transform back. I wonder what the cause is? I'm unwilling to blame conspiracy -- it seems more likely to be a convenient coincidence of factors which recurs again and again, and is to the benefit of everyone with power to change it so it is never changed.
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Nate Silver would have you believe polls are pretty accurate, especially toward the point of voting.

Ben Goldacre would have you believe journalists are out to sell human-interest/drama stories rather than publish factual research.

Take your pick...
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Nick Alcock

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The latest Yatse update has entirely broken function on Android 4.0 tablets -- or at least it has on mine. (I'd report this on yatse.leetzone.org, but registration doesn't seem to work and there is no visible way to email the author: hence this last-ditch attempt to report it. I hate the modern Internet.)

Touching the yatse widget drops straight back out to the desktop and flips state to 'XBMC Not Available" after sending a couple of RPC requests to xbmc.

The logcat shows that dalvik is segfaulting. Very partial Java backtrace because I'm typing this in by hand:
org.leetzone.android.yatsewidget.MenuManager.<init>(MenuManager.java:-1)
org.leetzone.android.yatsewidget.ui.BaseFragmentActivity.onCreate(BaseFragmentActivity.java:287)

This did not happen in the last release, which worked perfectly well for me.
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Tolriq Yatse's profile photoNick Alcock's profile photo
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Dug a crash and tombstone off: email sent. Sorry about this. (I wonder what's special about my configuration... probably the no-name vendor broke Android in some horrible obscure fashion. Of course there are no updates to its OS, there have never been any updates, throw the hardware over the wall and be done with it, they say...)
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So +Xah Lee asked us for shots of our Emacsen in use in anger so he could see what colour scheme we used. Here's mine (displaying parts of <https://oss.oracle.com/git/?p=linux-uek3-3.8.git;a=blob;f=scripts/dwarf2ctf/dwarf2ctf.c;hb=HEAD>: this bit happens to be unmodified so you can't see the git-gutter-fringe, but it's there nonetheless). I've used pretty much this colour scheme for roughly eighteen years now, and if you go back to the Borland IDEs it's vaguely inspired by, for more like a quarter of a century.

As you can see I like window splits. If anything the thing is split into fewer windows than usual (that big blank section in the middle cries out MOAR WINDOWS to me: I have a command that tries to fit the vertical split to the displayed code, but I forgot to use it before taking this screenshot). There's a second monitor containing another Emacs frame full of more code, not shown here, and a whole second Emacs in a different virtual desktop, running as a different user with my Gnus and things like that in it.
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Jonathan H's profile photoEvan Carew's profile photoRob Shinn's profile photoErgoEmacs's profile photo
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+Michael Lockhart f.lux works on Mac and Linux too. You can get away for free by using llama to automate lux on android. (Although f.lux is being ported to android as we speak) 
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