Just how threatening is BadBIOS, the virus that allegedly communicates through PCs' mic/speakers? Bruce Schneier is unsure
, but let Rupert Goodwins explain
[FB thread link]:
On the list of security issues to worry about, it's somewhere down there alongside sentient raspberry jelly evolving the ability to eat your flash drives and telepathically transmit your banking codes to a Mafia-controlled suet pudding.
Linux on modern PC hardware is harder work today than it was say 5y ago. Also, the Linux desktop today is inferior to that of 5y ago, more splintered and incoherent, with lots of new tech and new desktops which are not generally well-liked by users. And the thing that nobody is spotting is that all this is a direct result of Microsoft's efforts over the last 5-6y.
As a result of Microsoft action, now we have:
• Windows 8.x OEM deals that require
And on Linux:
• GNOME 2 is no more; instead we have GNOME 3, Unity, Cinnamon, Maté, Consort & more.( Read more...Collapse )
I think the more significant long-term question is to ask which of the various Gtk2-based desktops are going to successfully transition to other toolkits.
Apparently, LXDE is switching to Qt:http://blog.lxde.org/?p=1013
Which leaves the question of how easy it would be for Xfce and Maté to move.( Read more...Collapse )
I recently saw a mailing list post condemning Maté (the GNOME 2 fork)
as something to be deprecated and avoided because it uses Gtk2 and
that is now superseded code.
I think that's a bit sweeping to denigrate all Gtk2 desktops like that.
Yes, GNOME Classic and Cinnamon both offer Windows-like desktops
now with taskbars and start menus. If you don't like Unity or GNOME
Shell, then there are "traditional" alternatives.
But the un-Windows-like nature of Unity and GNOME Shell are not the
only reasons that people use them. There are other issues than the
cosmetics to consider.( Read more...Collapse )
Not only do I have recent, decent-performance, still-perfectly-usable PC hardware that can't boot off USB, or can but can't remember the setting* so that it has to be done every time you need it, but I also note that the BIOS in the current shipping versions of both VirtualBox and VMware cannot boot from USB devices.It is not a rare or uncommon problem.Yes, I have had dozens of techies say they've never seen it. Well, tough. It's not rare; it just means that they've had a lot less breadth of experience than I have.( Read more...Collapse )
> In short, the more somebody sounds off about a language or OS, the
> less they should be trusted. But I think you're reaching the same
> First, from a "wisdom of the ancients" POV: what have we lost out
That's what I am trying to work on elucidating, understanding and finding
out how to explain.
In general, because I don't yet know enough to have any alternative, I
have no recourse except to be vague and hand-wavey:
What we have now are very fast, very capacious, very very stupid
computers. What ought to be arcane internal concepts are exposed at the UI
and users have to learn to manipulate them: files, folders, file *types*,
documents, binaries and executables, source code, interpreters versus
compilers, and so on.
As Stanislav Datskovskiy put it in http://www.loper-os.org/?p=55
The computers we now use are descended from 1980s children’s toys. Their
level of bedrock abstraction is an exceedingly low one. This would be
acceptable in a micro with 64K of RAM, but when scaled up to present
proportions it is a nightmare of multi-gigabyte bloat and decay.
>>( Read more...Collapse )
The only reason why the language should intrude into the discussion is the side-question of whether certain language facilitate or hinder certain types of work.
Look at it from a different angle. For many a working programmer (and writer, believe me), the WWW is a massive distraction. A necessary one, but one that is separate.
What do you need to do, if you are co-working on a significant project? Edit code, obviously. Save it, compile it, run it, probe it with debuggers. Navigate your filesystem, load and view other files, move stuff between them. Occasionally, read and write email, or IRC, or (more historically) newsgroups, to discuss what you're doing. Possibly retrieve files from remote servers or put them there.
The point being, Emacs has extensions to do all this, so that you can do it all in a consistent fashion in a consistent (if horrible) UI, so that you can spend your entire day inside a single Emacs session and never leave and thus mentally never have to change gear.
Emacs, for some of its fans, is their entire OS. Their computer runs something that lets them launch Emacs and has an accessory function of browsing the web.
I don't do this - I don't speak Emacs at all - but I know people who do and really like it.
Well, turn that inside out. Consider an OS whose sole purpose is to do this: a Lisp interpreter running on the metal, which runs Emacs, and inside that, you have all the other functions. No distinction between "OS" and "apps", or between different apps. The OS runs the HLL you're writing natively, so there's no interpreter or compiler or linker. Everything you see is drawn by your editor and is live code that is executing in the environment - you can, if you wish, tweak the email function or the file manager to your taste, or if you want, go grab a new one off the Internet and plug it in instead.( Read more...Collapse )
A chap on CIX responded to my last piece on Lisp, and it led to a long answer, which my CIX client then crashed and threw away. So if I have to rewrite it, I'll do it here and it will maybe be read by a few more people. Perhaps, ooh, a dozen.
> Trouble is, it comes across a bit as a "lost wisdom of the ancients"
Yes, it does. But I am OK with that, if I can turn it into a coherent article that tells a comprehensible story.
> Lisp was a niche language in 1960, it's a niche language today. It
> has been a niche language for all the intervening period and I expect it
> to be a niche language for all time to come.
It's a fair point, but there are ways around that. One of the problems, though, is that the Lisp community are very resistant to them.
The thing that my research and my various discussions online are leading me to believe is this:
There are many things about Lisp that used to be distinctive, powerful features decades ago – not merely the functional programming model, but lambda calculus, closures, higher-order functions, tail recursion, lazy evaluation and so on. However, today, other languages can do these things. Perhaps some can do all of them, others only a subset, but that doesn't matter if these are the tools you need to crack your particular problematic nut. And the other languages that include these features do not have the feature that is the biggest problem with Lisp: its obfuscatory syntax, or as the Lisp advocates would have it, its *lack* of syntax. (Of course, as in the case of Perl, for example, they may have their own obfuscatory issues.)
But the problem is that that syntax is both the biggest obstacle to learning and using it, and yet at one and the same time, also absolutely integral to the one feature that sets Lisp apart from pretty much all other languages: its syntactic macros.( Read more...Collapse )
I guess that it all stems out of a vague feeling of ennui that's been growing in me for years concerning computers.
My Spectrum was an amazing toy (and I do use the word advisedly). I played with CBM PETs and ZX-81s but while interesting they could not do pictures or sound, which were things of more interest to me around 12YO or so. The Spectrum delivered sound, pictures, and a usable BASIC (I switched to Beta BASIC quite early on) at a price well below anything else. The VIC20 was too limited, the C64 had great hardware but a crappy BASIC, the Acorn 8-bits were vastly too expensive, and so on.
Then I got a job and could afford a used Archimedes. Simple, comprehensible OS, *really* good BASIC, wonderful graphics and sound beyond my meagre abilities to exploit and vast CPU power. As the late gkewney@cix said of the IBM PC-AT: "my first experience of Raw Computer Power". Well, for me it was the Archimedes, and dickp@cix's review of it in Personal Computer World was a clincher.
(You can read that here and I recommend it. It's one of the few computer reviews ever to contain quotable lines: http://acorn.chriswhy.co.uk/docs/Mags/PCW/PCW_Aug87_Archimedes.pdf
Then I went x86. Horrible Byzantine OSes, a wide choice of programming languages but nothing that delivered the simple benefits of BBC BASIC, and I quickly lost interest in programming as a result.
What follows is 20Y of supporting the things instead.( Read more...Collapse )