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Category: Computer Science

“There wouldn’t be a Microsoft today without Dave”

Dave Cutler (Image: Majorconfusion @ Wikipedia)

Dave Cutler, now 74, has had his 50th working anniversary, and for that reason we find a laudatio at Microsoft’s News Site.

Cutler not only has been one of the architects of the VAX and their VMS operating system, but also in the designs of the DEC Alpha CPU and its predecessors.

Later at Microsoft, he has been working on the DEC Alpha port of Windows NT, been instrumental in the development of the Windows Server operating system, and been a lead developer in Microsoft’s cloud system, Azure. He’s also been involved in porting the Hyper-V Hypervisor to the XBox.

It is really rare to find people who have been working in IT for so long, who have been involved in so many aspects – from hardware and chip design through operating system design to platform architecture and virtualisation, and even more so, who have been doing this in an ecosystem that is independent and outside of the Unix/Linux universe.

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Netflix vs. IP v6

Netflix detects a tunnel

So in order to view Netflix, your network connection must be direct and not via a proxy or VPN tunnel.

Netflix, being somewhat modern, also advertises IP v6 services and AAAA DNS records so that your computer can find them.

On the other hand, many providers do not offer IP v6 natively, and hence require that customers who want non-legacy internet get it via – right – a network tunnel.

Which triggers the Netflix error message shown above.

Netflix knows that, but offers little support besides “Don’t use a tunnel, then”. Haha. So this article explains how to unfuck Networking for a local Linux or a Chromecast to make Netflix work again. Even if that just means to force it to fall back to l;egacy Internet instead.

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Google vs. your data

Hooray, EU data protection authorities confirm compliance of Google Cloud commitments for international data flows! exclaims Google.

But on the other hand, Google ordered to hand over foreign emails to FBI, unlike Microsoft.

With legal instabilities and conflicting signals like these, are you running your crap in a public cloud owned and operated by a US company?

You probably should, it’s still better infra than you could create yourself. But the legal nonframework around it – it is not helping at all.

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Linux, from before the war…

Seth Kenlon from RedHat has been finding old Linux distros from before the war and installed them. How bad is this old shit, from todays POV?

Slackware 1.01 (1993): It does not even have package management. But:

Over all, Slackware 1.01 feels a lot like a fairly modern UNIX—or more appropriately, it feels like modern UNIX might feel to a Linux user. Most everything is familiar, but there are differences here and there. Not nearly as much a difference as you might expect from an operating system released in 1993!

And it continues like that – much of the old stuff works and feels a lot like stuff today. So besides systemd, there has hardly been any progress at all.

For example, some people’s desktop looks like this, even today:

SUSE 5.1 (1998) – I know people how are using a desktop that looks like this, even today.
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Unlearning Descriptive Statistics

Anscombe’s Quartet by Schutz

Unlearning Descriptive Statistics explains many things you should know about working with Numbers that your Statistics Class in University probably did not explain properly.

If they did, maybe Graphite would not hurt so much, with all the Averaging going on where it shouldn’t, and maybe Gill Tene would not have had to give talks like How NOT to measure latency (which is awesome, by the way and if you haven’t seen this talk, do it right now).

From the Intro of Unlearning:

If you’ve ever used an arithmetic mean, a Pearson correlation or a standard deviation to describe a dataset, I’m writing this for you. Better numbers exist to summarize location, association and spread: numbers that are easier to interpret and that don’t act up with wonky data and outliers.

Statistics professors tend to gloss over basic descriptive statistics because they want to spend as much time as possible on margins of error and t-tests and regression. Fair enough, but the result is that it’s easier to find a machine learning expert than someone who can talk about numbers. Forget what you think you know about descriptives and let me give you a whirlwind tour of the real stuff.

Go, read the rest.

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Mandatory Widevine (Browser Video DRM) in Chrome

Changes are coming to Chrome. Not all of them are good.

For example the ability to actually view the details of a TLS certificate in Chrome has been moved far away into a hard to reach Developer menu.

Most Chrome plugins have been disabled and removed, and the chrome://plugins page will go away very soon (Chrome 57 and later). The remaining Plugins cannot any longer be disabled (Bug report). This will also silently re-enable disabled plugins.

One of them is the Widevine video DRM plugin, and that is widely seen as very problematic, for security and legal reasons.

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git Improvements for Monorepos

Microsoft has been doing things to git, they report.

[W]e […] have a handful of teams with repos of unusual size! For example, the Windows codebase has over 3.5 million files and is over 270 GB in size. The Git client was never designed to work with repos with that many files or that much content. You can see that in action when you run “git checkout” and it takes up to 3 hours, or even a simple “git status” takes almost 10 minutes to run. That’s assuming you can get past the “git clone”, which takes 12+ hours.

What Microsoft is doing here is called a Monorepo approach. It not insane, has many advantages and is being discussed at length at Dan Luu, and is also in use with Facebook and Google and in many other places. But git is running into problems handling very large Monoreports, as discussed in an article at Atlassian.

What Microsoft GVFS does, according to their paper, is addressing the issues git has instead of working around them. And that is an awesome thing.

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