Feeds

Verity Stob

Contact Mail Follow RSS feed
Verity Stob is the pseudonym of a software developer based in London. Since 1988, she has written her "Verity Stob" column for .EXE magazine, Dr. Dobb's Journal and, now, The Register.
Do Not Adjust Your Set

Eight EXCELLENT languages for the fondleslab-friendly Intranet of Thingies

What are you up, Verity? Ensconced in one of your comfortable, miles-from-any-critical-path projects? Actually, I have been sussing out an upgrade path for our longstanding customer x. Do you remember? Certainly I do. It is quite easy to remember 'x'. Even in this age of companies with stupid names, it is unusual. As I recall, …
Verity Stob, 20 Jan 2014

Three Men in a Tardis

Significant anniversaries bunch together like buses. Three are assaulting me simultaneously, give or take a month or two. Two are personal. This writer has now been churning out "Stob" columns for 25 years, and has also recently racked up twice that figure on her personal chronological odometer. But I am here to mark yet …
Verity Stob, 12 Nov 2013

Down with Unicode! Why 16 bits per character is a right pain in the ASCII

I recently experienced a Damascene conversion and, like many such converts, I am now set on a course of indiscriminate and aggressive proselytising. Ladies and gentlemen, place your ears in the amenable-to-bended position, and stand by to be swept along by the next great one-and-only true movement. The beginning In the …
Verity Stob, 04 Oct 2013

Verity's summer songs for programmers: Sing your pals to sleep()

"What better way to dispel the rainy gloom of an English summer," mused Ms Stob, in an introduction presumably written some time in March, "than a mass office sing-along to a selection of IT-themed pastiches?" Pretty well anything, we'd have thought. Nevertheless, here is the raw material. Portable Development (Tune: Willow, …
Verity Stob, 22 Jul 2013

Bjarne Again: Hallelujah for C++

Now it has been scientifically demonstrated that we Delphi users are the happiest of all programmers, proper significance can at last be attached to the rare woes that occasionally break through our Stepford Coder personas. My test case: Warren Postma, a Delphi-head, was recently forced out of his comfort zone to repair a C++ …
Verity Stob, 17 Jun 2013
International Space Station

In space, no one can hear your laptop Blue Screen

Reg columnist Verity Stob says she's uncovered the following string of eye-opening electronic missives between the International Space Station's crew members. First, some context: "A NASA contractor deeply involved in Space Shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) operations, decided to migrate to Linux. Chuvala oversees …
Verity Stob, 07 May 2013
management governance3

Six things a text editor must do - or it's a one-way trip to the trash

When I heard, in a tutorial video, the multi-platform programmer's editor Sublime described as "the cool kids' code editor" (or possibly "the Cool Kid's code editor" - the speaker didn't enunciate his capitals and apostrophes very clearly) I was puzzled. As the goto (or, rather, the call-by-reference) consultant on Agile Harlem …
Verity Stob, 11 Mar 2013

Who ate all the Pis?

10/11/2012 I want a Raspberry Pi. I must have a Raspberry Pi. My home PC is drab. My Mac Mini is dusty. My iPad, which in my case I have not got, is a fatuous slab of plastic. Let me see the glimmer of the surface-mounted LED, and smell the green, green circuit board of 'Made in China'. But a Raspberry Pi is an example of that …
Verity Stob, 29 Jan 2013
babbage's analytical engine by gastev licensed under creative commons

8086 and All That. Revisited

Editor's Note: Verity Stob's celebrated history of computing was first published in EXE magazine in 1997, but has been unobtainable on the internets for several years. Now, thanks to the painstaking reconstruction of small pieces of parchment, and a small monetary inducement, we can now bring it to you as a Seasonal Treat. With …
Verity Stob, 22 Dec 2012

The Sons of Kahn and the assembly language of the internet

Editor's Note: Verity Stob's Chronicles of Delphi [King James ed.] began in 1996. The most recent translations can be found here: The Sons of Kahn and the Pascal spring and here: Sons of Kahn: The Apocrypha. Zany adventures with Zarco and Marco And the users of Delphi had become old with the passage of years, and had taken to …
Verity Stob, 11 Dec 2012

Stob on Quatermass: Was this British TV's finest sci-fi hour?

In the pub, with my editor. "Those sci-fi classics of the fifties," he mused. "Not the Hammer remakes - the originals. Are they really classics? How do they compare with modern Doctor Who? Are they even watchable?" [Dissolve to Stob's flat. A portable computing machine is displaying the Amazon website's DVD section. Pan to a TV …
Verity Stob, 08 Nov 2012

Five go wild with the Administration Tools Pack

As you have surely heard, it’s Alan Turing’s centenary this year, and the Bletchley Park museum is celebrating by releasing a game of Monopoly themed on the life of that mathematical genius. I’ll pause for a sentence or two here, while you let your boggle levels equalise, because, given Turing’s life story, this is a quite a …
Verity Stob, 23 Oct 2012

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love IPv6

IPv4 addresses are a rapidly dwindling commodity [...] ICANN distributed the last big chunks of available IPv4 addresses to the five continental Regional Internet Registries earlier this year. The RIRs in turn are running out of supplies to allocate to ISPs and other network operators - El Reg Somewhere in the near future... …
Verity Stob, 21 Aug 2012

Welcome, friend, to Metroland

When I saw that my editor had written 'Metro isn't the problem: catapulting into Metro land (and back again) is', I said: 'There's an idea - I could do try out the Betj pastiche macro in my HTML editor'. And scurried out the door before anybody thought to stop me. Metroland Bright with non-translucent tiling, Pastel blobs and …
Verity Stob, 09 Jul 2012
management management3

Stuck in a dull conference? You need Verity's survival guide

The technical conference season is once more upon us. The speakers at these affairs spend a lot of time sharing their software design patterns and anti-patterns with us; as a regular attendee it seemed to me that we punters were overdue for revenge. Here is some of their own medicine. Pattern: BTDTGTTS Motivation: At a talk …
Verity Stob, 14 May 2012
Steampunk fan with goggles

Hold on, Booker prize judges - Stob's penned a steampunk hit

Somewhere on the hard drive of every programmer-wannabe-writer’s laptop there is the first chapter of an unfinished steam punk novel. Here’s mine. Clockwork iPhones all round It was late and I was tired, so on the way home I nipped into a Mesco Tetro to pick up a ping meal for dinner. When it came to paying, the self-service …
Verity Stob, 17 Apr 2012
The Register breaking news

Molesworth and the New Latin

'In his speech [...] the Education Secretary Michael Gove appeared to accept in its entirety the argument that ICT had become little more than training in office skills and something far more rigorous was required [...] While Alex Hope's slogan "coding is the new Latin" did not appeal to some, it must have appealed to the …
Verity Stob, 27 Feb 2012
The Register breaking news

The Sons of Khan and the Pascal Spring

[We last heard from the Sons of Khan in 2010. The scriptures continue - Ed.] The woes of Techdom And it came to pass that the seasons rose and fell, and financial crisis waned while new financial crisis waxed, and the Kimjongilia flower did wither and fade on the vine. But misfortune struck the code cutters of Java, who were …
Verity Stob, 16 Jan 2012
The Register breaking news

Riders of the Bearded Sage

Ever since Richard Stallman hit the news ... Whoa there, Verity! Not so fast. Let me check I have this straight. We are talking about the gun-toter who wrote that definitive episode of Frost that everybody is supposed to have seen. Murder in the Cathedral I think it is called. Right? No. You are probably thinking of Eric …
Verity Stob, 21 Nov 2011
The Register breaking news

Doctor Who and the Unsatisfactory Five Hole Tape Punch

This sentence is false... As soon as I heard about the sponsored Doctor Who-themed parties, I just knew that they would want an article on the early years of Doctor Who IT to include in the special pack. However, since nobody has actually asked me for it yet, you get first dibs. W.O.T.A.N. for Will Operating Thought ANalogue …
Verity Stob, 07 Nov 2011
The Register breaking news

Verity's secret shame revealed

I defrosted my ideas box, and found several morsels which wouldn't make a whole meal in themselves, but nonetheless needed eating. Palmed off Here you are: a free chance get to laugh at-not-with me. I am a Palm Pre owner, pretty much the last one in the box. I hold this status in a work environment of iPeople. I feel my …
Verity Stob, 19 Sep 2011
The Register breaking news

Here lies /^v.+b$/i

After I've gone In a melancholy mood, this week. Went back home to have a look at Dad's bench. He was a Classics scholar, actually; went up to Cambridge and everything. And so above his name and dates on the brass plaque screwed into the wood, instead of "He loved this place" or something equally fatuous, it says: ORE STABIT …
Verity Stob, 22 Aug 2011
The Register breaking news

Educating Verity the OU way

I think I mentioned that I was doing an Open University PGDip course in software development. (For those not familiar with the institution, the Open University has rightly been described as a sort of mental gym. You join with great enthusiasm; then, after three months, having attended just twice, you can drop out and ask for the …
Verity Stob, 18 Jul 2011
The Register breaking news

Verity Stob and the super subjunction

Just downloaded the beta version of English V3.31, and I have to say I am very excited about it. This is definitely going to be a feather in the cap of Anglophones everywhere, and way better than the notorious V2.99 release of French (or the 'deux point neufty-neuf' as it has become known). There's a ton of new features to talk …
Verity Stob, 01 Jun 2011
The Register breaking news

No stranger to the moleskin trouser

A website called MySpace is 'in a death spiral' according to Mr Robert Scoble, who attributes this unhappy state to its being implemented using Microsoft .NET technology, and because it is headquartered in Los Angeles, where apparently there aren't enough good programmers. Slightly cross-eyed with concentration at his three- …
Verity Stob, 11 Apr 2011
The Register breaking news

In defence of Comic Sans

Good Morning!!! A Facebook pal recently posted to his status: Whenever you see this font, raise your fists and shout "Comic saaaaans!" This is a splendid idea, and I have already promised him on your behalf that we will all join in this game. But it made me wonder: what is it about Comic Sans that inspires such excitement? …
Verity Stob, 31 Jan 2011
The Register breaking news

The Girl with the NSObject Class Reference tattoo

What better occupation, at this time of year, than to polish up one's IT skills with some background reading? What have the great programming publishers got lined up for our delectation in 2011? Alas, as far as this reviewer is concerned, these rhetorical questions must remain unanswered. A certain Amazon parcel, containing …
Verity Stob, 10 Jan 2011
The Register breaking news

I was timeboxed in a holistic scrum

Do you suffer from unsatisfactory projectile climaxes? Is your software construction methodology previous generation? Do you require the predictable outcome of pre-planning with the flexibility of iteration and the lightness of touch of partially de-hierarchicalised management approaches? No need to say anything. I can tell from …
Verity Stob, 29 Nov 2010
The Register breaking news

Diary of an Overflow Addict

Thursday Medals 0 Rep 0 Need to write code to hash some passwords. Hmm. Troubled by the suspicion that this has been done before. Wonder if there are any functions in the Windows API to do this that a) aren't insanely complicated to call, or b) are .NET-only, or c) are reserved exclusively for Raymond Chen's use. Googled a …
Verity Stob, 05 Oct 2010
The Register breaking news

Sons of Kahn: The Apocrypha

The Sons of Kahn move on And it came to pass, as hath previously been extensively documented, that the Sons of Kahn were sold by the Borlandites unto the hyperpolysyllabic Embarcoderhododendrongogogoch. And one acquisition begat another. For, in turn, the Borlandites themselves were absorbed by the tribe of Methuselah-focus, …
Verity Stob, 23 Aug 2010
The Register breaking news

Lord Peter views the logfile

"What is design? Dorothy Sayers (English writer and dramatist - quoted by Brooks) suggests that design has three phases" - InfoQ reviewing Fred 'Mythical Man' Brook's latest tome. I had never realised that the famous crime writer Dorothy L Sayers was one of us - VS. The morning sunshine, filtered, as it were, through London's …
Verity Stob, 26 Jul 2010
The Register breaking news

A Rumba with a Roomba

Don't tell me. I've heard it already. You've got the iPadFever. Or Obsession for iPhone 4. Or iMac Mini Madness. Apparently nearly everyone is contemplating dropping hundreds of not-as-big-as-they-were-once ones on an Apple product, and joining in the chorus of boring bores who bore on in boring detail about how lovely the …
Verity Stob, 21 Jun 2010
The Register breaking news

I Married a Monster from ISO 9000

We had our quality audit the other week. Its cadences seemed curiously familiar. The solemnisation of the quality system The service is traditionally held in the offices of a software house, as a St Audit's day substitute for matins. The congregation are gathered in the programmers' kitchenette, sipping coffee. Opening …
Verity Stob, 24 May 2010
The Register breaking news

First among SQLs

Legend has it that Edgar 'Ted' Codd got the idea for SQL while attending a 'Sky at Night' spin-off lecture. Patrick Moore, pointing at the blackboard, said: 'Select a star from the table'. 'That's it!', cried Codd, and ran out the door to follow up his inspiration forthwith, missing a good discussion of vulcanoids. Though born …
Verity Stob, 20 Apr 2010
The Register breaking news

Is it ta-ta for Flash?

I hear you're a bit of a Flash programmer. Why is Flash in the news so much, Verity? Flash seems to have become the whipping boy for just about everybody in the IT crowd. Now it is under attack from Authentic Steve Jobs, who won't let it play on the iPad, just because the runtime is supposedly a tad flaky. Computer Engineer …
Verity Stob, 01 Mar 2010
The Register breaking news

Verity Stob's App Store

You have had your Sweet iJesus NexPreDroidBerry smart-like-hell-when-you-get-the-statement-phone for a month or so now. Perhaps the novelty has worn off a device that's much more difficult to use than its primitive predecessor, and which eats its battery charge faster than a New Year's resolution breaker munching an economy- …
Verity Stob, 18 Jan 2010
The Register breaking news

A Deadlock Holiday

Moore's Law, I need hardly remind a top-notch industry professional like you, states that as the density of silicon circuitry doubles, the probability of you not being able to find some sensibly-priced extra memory to fit your old lappy approaches 1.0. In recent times it has become generally admitted that, if this well-known …
Verity Stob, 10 Dec 2009
The Register breaking news

Abigail's Windows 7 Party

What are you doing on Oct 22? Microsoft is putting a Tupperware-style twist on the upcoming Windows 7 rollout, launching a new initiative to encourage thousands of employees, partners and technology enthusiasts to throw parties in their homes and communities to demonstrate and help spread the word about its new OS - Slashdot …
Verity Stob, 14 Sep 2009
The Register breaking news

Not now darling I'm twirping

Baroness Susan Greenfield, head of the Royal Institution and occasional star of Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column, has dramatically claimed, via the offices of the Daily Mail, that social websites harm children's brains. I think the Baroness misses a trick. Children are not the problem in my experience. My difficulty is the …
Verity Stob, 24 Aug 2009
The Register breaking news

Don't call me Ishmael

'No, you don't understand,' the White Knight said, looking a little vexed. 'That's what the name is called. The name really is "The Aged Aged Man."' 'Oh, do get on with it, you pedantic old weirdo,' snapped Alice crisply. Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll (1871), revised Verity Stob (2009) It started when we were all in …
Verity Stob, 22 Jun 2009
The Register breaking news

An unthinking programmer's guide to the new C++

So what’s all this about a new C++ standard, Verity? Why you asking me? I know nussing. I’m down to write ‘Porcine influenza — a programmer’s perspective’ this month. Don’t fib. Oh very well. The enthusiasts imprisoned in the ISO C++ bunker are reputedly on the point of lighting a white smoke bonfire to indicate they have a new …
Verity Stob, 07 May 2009
The Register breaking news

Come on, Sir Tim!

It is twenty years since Tim Berners-Lee, then a humble techie at CERN, sent a memorandum to his manager entitled Information Management: a Proposal. The Register is proud, on this important anniversary, to be republishing that historic document for the first time, so that we can all reflect properly on Sir Tim's achievement, …
Verity Stob, 17 Mar 2009
The Register breaking news

Born Again Delphi

Mr Nick Hodges of CodeGear and Embarcadero and not Borland blogs amusingly about the obscure corners of Delphi syntax. Delphi Pascal apparently still implements a Jensen and Wirth era feature whereby [square brackets] can simulated by the sequences (. and .). In the olden days, MyArray[5] := 0; could look like this (assuming my …
Verity Stob, 04 Feb 2009
The Register breaking news

Verity Stob's Big Fat Geek Yuletide Quiz of the Year Part 2

Note: Ms Stob claims to have sent in her only copy of Part 1 of her Quiz of the Year (The Questions) many weeks ago. However, nothing ever arrived here. But we do at least have the answers, so we thought we might as well make the best of a bad situation. 1. InstallShield Update Manager, which was yet again the winner of this …
Verity Stob, 24 Dec 2008
The Register breaking news

Replicating DNA

"Fans of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy are likely to react strongly to the announcement that Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer has been given the green light to write a sixth book in the series" - El Reg "It's Marilyn, isn't it? You're the new assistant? Come on in and sit yourself down." The religious affairs …
Verity Stob, 10 Nov 2008
The Register breaking news

Verity's further education

The story so far: I stumped up nearly £1000 for an OU computer course (M885 Analysis and design of enterprise systems: an object-oriented approach) and was surprised when the second piece of homework was based on a paper by Madanmohan and De' comprising, in part, plagiarised gibberish. I drew this to the attention of my OU tutor …
Verity Stob, 14 Oct 2008
The Register breaking news

Educating Verity

It's my own fault. If you've told me once, you've told me a hundred times to ignore them. You know the sort of thing: Bacheelor, MasteerMBA, and Doctoraate diplomas available in the field of your choice that's right, you can even become a Doctor and receive all the benefits that comes with it! Last year, I fell victim to a …
Verity Stob, 13 Sep 2008
The Register breaking news

How to be an instant Web me-2.0 developer

Are you a Web 1.0 duhveloper in a rut? Is rich web codery passing you by in Internet time? Do you nibble on the ASCII Alphabetti Spaghetti of server-side processing, while younger, feck- (careful) and talent-less colleagues slurp the UTF-Eightti Vermicelli of client-side coquetry? You do? I knew it. But don't let it get you down …
Verity Stob, 07 Jul 2008
The Register breaking news

A reading from the second book of Codh

And it had come to pass that the Sons of Kahn were, to make no bones about it, being flogged off. For the Borland Leadership Team had looked upon the works of the Sons of Kahn, and had posed a question unto them. And the question of the Borland Leadership Team was this: In what respect does your input enhance the four phase …
Verity Stob, 26 May 2008
Linux

The missing five-minute Linux manual for morons

It is time to wake up and smell the elephant in the room. Vista is struggling to achieve escape velocity. Microsoft finds itself the butt of an international joke, but does not seem able to get a grip. The issue of choice of platform is once more up for grabs. Of course there is an alternative; a popular computing platform …
Verity Stob, 14 Apr 2008