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Lord Peter views the logfile

Stob "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
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A Rumba with a Roomba

Stob 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
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I Married a Monster from ISO 9000

Stob 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
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First among SQLs

Stob 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
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Is it ta-ta for Flash?

Stob 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
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Verity Stob's App Store

Stob 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
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A Deadlock Holiday

Stob 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
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Abigail's Windows 7 Party

Stob 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
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Not now darling I'm twirping

Stob 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
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Don't call me Ishmael

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

Stob 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 …
Verity Stob, 07 May 2009
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Come on, Sir Tim!

Stob 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
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Born Again Delphi

Stob 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 …
Verity Stob, 04 Feb 2009
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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
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Replicating DNA

Stob "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
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Verity's further education

Stob 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
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Stob latest: IEEE flags dodgy paper

For the past few weeks I've been trying to piece together an explanation for Verity Stob's extraordinary adventure in academia, published here on Monday. Why did the Open University set as a marked assessment for postgraduate students a plagiarized piece of garbage, then admit they hadn't really read it? Why had a prestigious …
Andrew Orlowski, 19 Sep 2008
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Educating Verity

Stob 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
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How to be an instant Web me-2.0 developer

Stob 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 …
Verity Stob, 07 Jul 2008
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A reading from the second book of Codh

Stob 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

Stob 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
Dalek

Doctor Who and the moody Dane

Stob Perhaps motivated by the desire to avoid type-casting, David Tennant is to take time off from television, to lead the RSC's forthcoming production of Hamlet. Your correspondent sneaked into early rehearsals. Episode I. Elsinore. The guard-platform of the Castle. Enter HAMLET, HORATIO and MARCELLUS. Hamlet The air bites …
Verity Stob, 25 Feb 2008
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Her Light Materials, Volume I

Stob 'So that's how I came to be mysteriously orphaned and, on my ninth birthday, just three years ago today, sent to work as a junior grader at the Ah-Poo! Toilet Tissue reclamation factory at Fort Wirth', explained Jo, our heroine, a feisty, scruffy and independently-minded young tomboy whose more mature, more feminine side we won' …
Verity Stob, 20 Jan 2008
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The art of software murder

Stob Only the guilty need be afraid Did you ever try Paint Shop Pro? It is the most splendid of programs, a faithful collie dog of a program. Whistle for it and it bounces up off your hard disk, and licks your face, and gambols around all eager and excited and ready to play. Design industry pros may swear by Photoshop, but that …
Verity Stob, 20 Dec 2007
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Programming with Marigold gloves on

Stob We were quite awestruck and overcome with jealousy when Wired magazine managed to get in that guru of the grated nutmeg, high priestess of the investment handbag, and archdeaconess of the artichoke salad to host its annual 'How to' issue. Wired came straight out and asked Martha, who is photographed putting the finishing …
Verity Stob, 13 Nov 2007
Warning: aircraft

An unsatisfactory meal in County Antrim

Stob I say, "I could try ringing again." R, my boss, wipes the raindrops off his specs to look at me impatiently, and starts jabbing at his mobile phone. I sit down on our pile of laptops and computer gear. The Warm Welcome Hotel and Guest House, Ballylolly (seven bedrooms, three diamonds, three stars, and a lucky clover) is …
Verity Stob, 09 Oct 2007
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Hey Mr Policeman - this car is stolen!

I’m sure you’ve heard that old joke which contrasts the development of the car with the astonishing rate of progress in digital electronics. The story goes that if automobile technology had advanced at the same pace as desktop computers in the last couple of decades, we’d all be driving cars that can circle the globe on a …
Dave Jewell, 28 Aug 2007
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In the beginning, there was the flowchart...

Stob Those who can, do. Those who can't, make those who can draw a picture My first effort in instructing computers, about 30 years ago, was drawing a flowchart. Here it is as I remember it, albeit without the smears and crossings-out with which my 14-year-old self doubtless decorated the original. We were unconstrained, in those …
Verity Stob, 16 Aug 2007

Comments are disabled

Stob 'What if,' said a friend down the pub the other day, when the conversation was circling uneasily for take off at that tricky third round mark, 'what if those old Greek philosophers - you know, the ones that used to sit around all day gassing - what if they had had the benefit of modern social website software, like Facebook? …
Verity Stob, 17 Jul 2007
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Beyond the valley of the drolls

Stob There's another of those lists of supposedly amusing/sage/cute adages going around, bouncing from blog to email, accumulating fresh contributions and occasional edits and doing all the meme-ish things that memes do. This one differs from all the others that you have deleted irritably from your email inbox in that it includes a …
Verity Stob, 18 Jun 2007
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More fables for our time

Stob Fewer people than I would expect seem to be aware of the American humorist James Thurber's fine self-illustrated reworking of Aesop's fables entitled Fables for Our Time. Thurber's stories, being written in 1939, lack coverage of the digital age. I therefore humbly offer three new fables as tribute to the master, and as a …
Verity Stob, 06 May 2007
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Absolutely SFW

Stob Before I start, please take a moment or two to identify your exits, in the unlikely event of the alarm sounding during this article. These are clearly marked with a blue underline like this (nb this is not an actual exit, but just a demonstration of what an exit would look like if this were an exit. Do not click on this), and …
Verity Stob, 09 Apr 2007
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Unhelpful Microsoft help denies helpless millions help

Stob Here is a little contest, to which all fellow Windows programmers are invited. What is the API function LockWindowUpdate for? How might you use it? You are definitely allowed, nay encouraged, to use the official Microsoft documentation. Here is the function description on MSDN, and here is the same documentation on the …
Verity Stob, 08 Mar 2007
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When Mercury went down

Stob Last month, Kiwi programmer David Harris officially threw in the towel. After 17 years, he announced he was ceasing development of Pegasus Mail, the famous, free-as-in-beer, email program. (That Mr Harris subsequently retrieved the towel, now damp in patches and covered in other people's hairs, I will get around to in a …
Verity Stob, 06 Feb 2007
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Was that the 2007 that was?

Two article formats inevitably get rolled out at this time of year: the list of predictions for the next twelve months, and the answers to the seasonal topical quiz (which was printed in late December as a filler in the absence of any news and to enable us journalists to spend a few precious Yuletide days in the environs of the …
Verity Stob, 03 Jan 2007
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Yuletide Weblog roundup

Stob Ah, Christmas! When pubs fill up with inexperienced drinkers to the disapproval of regular sots, when lunchtime turkey sarnies get a blob of cranberry jam and are relaunched as 'Christmas dinner flavour' for a 40p premium, and when the moneyed middle-classes are not ashamed to be seen shopping at Woolworth's. Ah, Christmas! …
Verity Stob, 04 Dec 2006
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Under Torch Wood

Stob FIRST VOICE No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; SECOND VOICE Ahem. Hold on there, Richard. Wrong script. FIRST VOICE I do beg your pardon. My mistake. I thought you were …
Verity Stob, 06 Nov 2006
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Oh my Word

Stob Microsoft Office Word is a candidate for the world's favourite program, provided you accept BA's use of "favourite" as a synonym for "ubiquitous" (me neither). One app may bind them all, but its users come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Here is the Reg's kut-out-and-keep guide. Antiquary The Antiquary refuses to …
Verity Stob, 04 Oct 2006
For Sale sign detail

Poetry in slow motion

Stob Thanks to the Beeb's correctly extensive celebrations of Sir John Betjeman's centenary, Betjmania is once more abroad and has conquered everywhere. (Everywhere? Well, as they say in the Asterix books, everywhere except one tiny village...) In recent days, hooded teenagers have abandoned their accustomed role as shopping …
Verity Stob, 04 Sep 2006
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Out of the (C++) loop

Stob Hi Verity, are we up for some more frolics and fun? Nope. It's a spot test today. Using your neatest handwriting, write out a standard C++ loop on the nursery blackboard. No copying. This will count towards your final grade. Joy. What brought this on? Oh, ok – gimme the chalk, let's get it over with: for (int i = 0; i < …
Verity Stob, 08 Aug 2006
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House style

Stob I'm not usually a great one for American TV comedy, the cartoons excepted. But recently I came upon a wonderful thing called House, featuring Hugh Laurie as the eponymous hero, a consultant at a New Jersey hospital. Laurie is an effective counter to that arch-enemy of all American hospdrams, Doctor Mawk. The first pleasure to …
Verity Stob, 07 Jul 2006
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Hexadecimal coinages

Stob All top computing publications should occasionally put out a glossary of new and with-it computing jargon, together with clarifications of expressions that have evolved with the new technology. Here is ours. Architect: Any programmer who has specified a database, or a File menu, or even just the keys in a section of an INI …
Verity Stob, 07 Jun 2006

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