* Posts by rob miller

56 publicly visible posts • joined 7 Nov 2007


Microsoft may be counting out $10 billion to inject into OpenAI

rob miller

Re: The model would help users generate and edit their writing in emails and documents.

So the desired upcoming variant is "please read this crap and tell me what it says".

Warning! Critical flaws found in US Emergency Alert System

rob miller

Do they know how to use it now?

When Mt. St. Helens erupted 18 May 1980, the ash cloud drifted across Washington State and into Idaho over about 8-9 hours with no news at all. It was a Sunday, so all the content was pre-loaded, and no one knew how to make the Emergency Broadcast System do anythng other than the test message.

Magnanimous Apple will allow people to fix their iPhones using parts bought from its Self Service Repair program

rob miller

Also a theft improvement

The main value in a stolen iPhone now seems to be parting it out and selling the bits on eBay, so this might eventually reduce that problem.

FBI paid renegade developer $180k for backdoored AN0M chat app that brought down drug underworld

rob miller
Big Brother

$180k plus "reduce any future punishment potentially coming their way"

DeepMind's latest protein-solving AI AlphaFold a step closer to cracking biology's 50-year conundrum

rob miller

Re: Not as good as the article seems to indicate

> for predicting the structures that were ALREADY determined by humans

It's a blind test - the targets have been solved and by agreement not published until after the assessment.

GitHub restores DMCA-hit youtube-dl code repo after source patched to counter RIAA's takedown demand

rob miller

Gotta admit...

A nice, visible effort from M$ to support ("embrace, e..." :-)) the Open Source developers that they so frustrated in the past.

Fitness freaks flummoxed as massive global Garmin outage leaves them high and dry for hours

rob miller

Re: As of now, 0555 GMT .... Still Struggling

Pilots have told ZDNet today that they haven't been able to download a version of Garmin's aviation database on their Garmin airplane navigational systems. Pilots need to run an up-to-date version of this database on their navigation devices as an FAA requirement. Furthermore, the Garmin Pilot app, which they use to schedule and plan flights, was also down today, causing additional headaches.

So maybe "how well I slept last night" not their biggest concern today? I think most airlines here in TZ use this for planning in-country flights.

Wouldn't it be nice if led to sufficient pressure from sufficiently important customers to make this stuff work standalone?

AI-predicted protein structures could unlock vaccine for COVID-19 coronavirus... if correct... after clinical trials

rob miller


There are 480 structures on PDBe resulting from a search on ‘coronavirus,’ the top hits from MERS and SARS. PR stunt or not, they did win the most recent CASP ‘competition’, so arguably it’s probably our best shot right now - and I am certainly not satisfied that they have been sufficiently open in explaining their algorithms though I have not checked in the last few months. No one is betting anyone’s health on this, and it is not like making one wrong turn in a series of car directions. Latest prediction algorithms incorporate contact map predictions, so it’s not like a wrong dihedral angle sends the chain off in the wrong direction. A decent model would give something to run docking algorithms against with a series of already approved drugs, then we take that shortlist into the lab. A confirmed hit could be an instantly available treatment, no two year wait as currently estimated.

Uni of London loses attempt to block mobe mast surveyors from Paddington rooftop

rob miller

missed the Profumo Affair angle

Christine Keeler lived in the now Lillian Penson Hall before it was bought by UofL (during the 'Affair' I'm guessing), or so I was told when I lived there as a visiting postdoc in the mid 90s. There was a woman pensioner still living there from the day, generally unimpressed with Christine and no, not interested in talking about the story any more thank you.

Worked in the bar and met my wife there, and brilliant locale for clubbing with the easy nightbus access. Them was the days.

Visual Studio Code 1.35: Remote Development, TypeScript and (sigh) another new icon

rob miller

bracket bouncing

One of many software development insights the Python world has missed out on.

How much open source is too much when it's in Microsoft's clutches? Eclipse Foundation boss sounds note of alarm

rob miller

yes you should be worried

VSCode works. First time ever I am voluntarily using a Microsoft product, in just short of 40 years of coding. It's like Apple forgot that developers are the key, and Microsoft figured it out.

Microsoft buffs up its open-source halo to fine sheen with PostgreSQL GUI in Azure Data Studio

rob miller

pgmodeler https://pgmodeler.io/ made postgres work for me

Microsoft delivers a second preview of Visual Studio 2019 (a Redmond thing we actually like)

rob miller

Re: multiple monitor support?

oops sorry, wrong app - I was thinking of visual studio code. my bad.

rob miller

multiple monitor support?

I keep wanting to try it, but sounds like there is still no multiple monitor support? Like, opening/editing two windows on the same file on two separate monitors....

Microsoft Visual Studio Code replumbed for better Python taming

rob miller

Re: Where are the holy relics

Does it have multi monitor support yet? That put me off on my initial investigations....

Microsoft will ‘lose developers for a generation’ if it stuffs up GitHub, says future CEO

rob miller

Re: Foul company

"Where is the Return on Investment?”

Given the number of commits and source they claim to have put into GitHub, it seems to me M$ didn't have an option?

GitHub business model not working, so Microsoft would feel just like we do now if someone else bought it.

Here's the list of Chinese kit facing extra US import tariffs: Hard disk drives, optic fiber, PCB making equipment, etc

rob miller


No more waiting to buy electronics kit in the US, it will be cheaper in the UK :-)

Boring. The phone business has lost the plot and Google is making it worse

rob miller

What they need to do....

is make it easy to swap your data etc. between handsets. Currently everyone thinks lock-in is it, but as the article says all the rich people have their phones already. Nifty as the advertising is, no point buying another one this year.

Need to make it so having bought a nice phone, it would still be worthwhile to buy another - different days of the week, cheap one to be stolen or lost, small one for the dinner jacket.

Wearables are now a two-horse race and Google lost very badly

rob miller

Misfit Speedo Shine 2

£17 at tkmax around xmas, that was my toy this year. Right price (definitely not the £60 retail), claimed waterproof to 50m so don't worry about it too much. Kinda tells time (to within 5 minutes), counts steps, interesting sleep tracking data. Annoyed that I am sharing my data with misfit when they aren't sharing their aggregate data with me, no other complaints. Otherwise haven't worn a watch for 5 years now. Like the other brands, the rest of their line expanding into smart and bulky, apparently simple/small/useful/cheap doesn't make them enough money.

Leaky-by-design location services show outsourced security won't ever work

rob miller

poachers and EXIF?

I live in Tanzania. I have been on lots of safaris. Phone and wifi coverage generally poor, and rare for interesting animals/sightings to be where they were the day before - even so we always check. A better technique to get this info would be to listen to open radio conversations between game vehicle drivers, and requires much less skill and technology.

Now you can tailor Swift – Apple open-sources the whole shebang

rob miller

Re: Is this the language I'm looking for?

Uselessly I don't know about Swift, and happy I did not port my app from Objective C if they're going to break compatibility - so this is completely off topic! My comment though is that I made the effort to learn Lua for a torch7 (neural nets) project. It is fast to learn (alternatively stated 'simplistic and annoyingly without some syntactic sugar I like'), faster than perl, easily extensible in C, and - probably most importantly - easy to revisit old code and modify to do new things without breaking all over.

Sketch dev pulls out of Mac App Store, cites slow reviews, tech limitations

rob miller

Re: On the plus side...

> Negative reviews are a good thing as far as the end user is concerned.

In my experience users write support requests as negative reviews - instead of using the support link, looking at the website, or even looking at the pictures and description on the app store.

'iOS 9 ate my mobile broadband plan'

rob miller

Re: I don't have a 'cellular' setting..

ah. not on the 4s : http://ios9news.net/no-wifi-assist-iphone-4s/

Got an Apple Mac, iThing? Update it right now – there's a shedload of security holes fixed

rob miller

dozens of new emojis - but not these I bet


What is money? A rabid free marketeer puts his foot in lots of notes

rob miller

Re: @rob

Yes, this is exactly my point about the mechanism that has created so much. We are now getting truly global though, and the money equation is instead allocating some of our best compute minds and resources to faster financial transactions. My research passion is protein folding, a 'funding black hole' as one advisor put it. Arguably the most significant result in the field in the last decade was made by D. Shaw, who apparently made enough money in financial markets to subsequently be able to 'do what he wants' now.

I think that most of the people reading these pages are no longer working for money. Are you aware of any daily impact whatsoever from your 2% inflation matching raise last year? Would you shovel shit outside for the same salary but a shorter commute? Do you hardcode everything in quick-to-deliver brittle code without caring that it will break next year after your part is signed off? Would you -really- rather be an Eloi and surf the web all day?

While not in the article, someone once defined money to me as 'a mechanism for allocating resources'. The question I pose, with no answer, is how can we harness the contributions that people no longer working for subsistence want to make? Money / capitalism / whatever has indeed worked very well for us up to this point, but I now suspect that its efficiency is declining with our global networks.

Put another way: whom should we be rewarding and supporting more -- teachers or bankers?

rob miller

Re: So what will you do about it?

Yes, there was a crap solution imposed some time ago which purported to address some of the issues I am exploring. It does not follow that all solutions in this space are crap; thank you for playing.

rob miller

Re: So what will you do about it?

I live in Tanzania now; I see the poverty you are talking about every day. This is one of the many fucked up things that the current system is not fixing, and does not look like it will fix any time soon. Instead we continue shifting 0s to a tiny fraction of the population that are completely desensitised to the benefit by now. You have no idea what has affected me to the point that no amount of money can solve my problems.

I don't claim to be able to solve anything; I am exploring alternatives to, and variations on, the mechanism which has powered progress and generated so much for so long, but now seems to have evolved into (or simply achieved a logical outcome as) some sort of greed machine.

And indeed you are missing my point entirely when you frame these problems as 'financial'.

rob miller

So what will you do about it?

Pardon my utopian fantasy that follows, but my engineering approach is to imagine what the optimal solution looks like and then work out how to get there.

I find that the people I hang out with don't actually do what they do for money. They work for positive feedback from improving their corner of the world, fundamentally some kind of geeky 'flow' thing that comes from making things work better. As a software developer it's the most simplistic: to elegantly do more in fewer lines, and see it work. At a higher level there's some coolness that others enjoy using the software, and more ephemeral than that is if it can put some 0s in my ledger. For the others it's perhaps harder to quantify than LOC, but they say "I love my job". You may think I work for a salary, but in reality that just keeps my family off my back while I get on and do something I love.

Clearly there are jobs people do not love. You can't pay me enough to work on Windows nowadays, although I may decide to do so if it's an unavoidable part of a bigger problem that takes my interest. Garbage collection and rush work in hot, sweaty shops and kitchens seem like unpleasant examples (perhaps as bad as dealing with your boss), but I suspect most still take some pleasure in 'a job well done'. Not sure what solution works in this space, short of robotics.

The problem now is that we use the count of 'who gets to ask for what' as an end in itself, and use this to drive the allocation of resources. Changing the 0s in Larry and Sergey's ledgers won't affect their daily lives any more, and Bill's biggest problem is reallocating his 0s in the time he has left (barring life extension and nanotech armour). We scientists are perfectly happy working on new antibiotics, but the drug companies won't allocate us to that project because the accountants say the doctors won't prescribe capsules that cost £100 each for the 10 day course, and in the end I can't buy the petrol to get to work to do the job I love. Guess I work on more Viagra and Lipitor instead then.

So how can we keep the 'invisible hand' mechanism, but get off the hedonic treadmill of working for 'stuff' and allocate our resources more intelligently? Just askin'...

Buh bye fakers? Amazon tweaks customer product reviews system

rob miller

Re: BS, there is no will at Amazon, tech won't help.

> Then I bought a book by this guy which totally blew my mind on fraud.

what is that book or author?

Don't be stiffed by spies, stand up to Uncle Sam with your proud d**k pics – says Snowden

rob miller

too late

statue already removed.

Can your code survive crappy 2G? This open-source traffic controller will test it

rob miller

imho this is an industry wide problem

So many apps and systems I use just hang with a poor connection or a slow VPN. In the UK I have reasonably good networking - at least at home, but I've spent many years in developing countries where it is just sh*t. Seems like everything is written in fibre-land, and the builders think network latency is outside of their responsibility.

Shame this suite clearly does not work as advertised given how poor facebook messenger seems to be.

Strap on fitness finesse: Withings Activité Pop

rob miller

not for real geeks

I searched through a bunch of these over Christmas: only SDK access to the data - if available at all - is by connecting to the website. Show me one that my code can connect to directly.

When algorithms ATTACK: Facebook sez soz for tacky 'Year in Review' FAIL

rob miller

Seems my most popular post was photos of the daughter I lost as well.

about 2.5 years now, and yes I do still post on her birthday and the anniversary of her death and various other days that seem relevant. yes it's still shit and will be for the rest of my life. didn't bother to complain about the review, didn't get an apology, just scrolled by -- seems most people never think about life from any other perspective but their own.

Apple abruptly axes Aperture ... Adobe anxiously awaits arrivals

rob miller

cloud crap with iOS integration no doubt

Presumably this will solve the problem of having all sorts of metadata and album organisation manually done on iPads (thanks wifey) and then not being able to access that effort anywhere else on the system where the photos are available.

I really only use Aperture for photo management so suppose I don't mind if they can make some improvements there, but the apparent plan for me to rent 150gigs on Apple's servers for the rest of my life to access the family photo archive is a total non-starter.

Microsoft: NSA security fallout 'getting worse' ... 'not blowing over'

rob miller

pot kettle black

"I just think that one of the fundamental prerequisites for being in the cloud business is you must offer services that people trust,"

because corporations are so much more trustworthy than governments.

Microsoft to Australian government: our kit has no back doors

rob miller

I just can't help it....

"They would say that, wouldn't they?"

United Nations launches fleet of surveillance drone patrols

rob miller
Big Brother

"One can observe the ...

war crimes, documented and video waiting for you at the Hague.

So many other possibilities as well, of course. Factor in those Google robots next?

Did Google's Waze gobble run rivals off the road? UK watchdog starts probe

rob miller

adverts already

I have been using Waze for a while, but over the weekend it popped up a notice about a nearby Nissan dealership and would I like to drive there. Time to start looking for alternatives...

Ten USB 3.0 HDD enclosures

rob miller

Re: ISOs and rugged

the ve300 looked quite tasty to me as well, but my research reveals....

- not actually available in the uk other than some spendy import sources (for £25 all I find are the ve200 usb 2 version)

- comments on newegg (worth a read) suggest its not all -that- robust, but the issue may actually be the mini-usb-3 connectoors which seem to be the source of trouble on other devices as well.

- it needs an ntfs formatted drive (fat32 / exfat appears to need a different firmware) and all windows tools, so not totally usable for linux / os x.

- yumi looks pretty good too... GPL-2, all that nice source code, Windows executable for ntfs or fat32 filesystems, mmmm. It's like convergent evolution....

Skype launches in-call ads

rob miller
Black Helicopters

contextual to my conversation

indeed. guess this confirms that the NSA/CIA/XXX got their skype wiretap when MS bought them - but we did know that anyway. this just shows that MS has the contract for all the speech-to-text processing as well.

2,500 copycat hack attempts on abortion provider site – report

rob miller

difficult to evaluate...

Hands up anyone who's ever worked for an ISP or manages a server with a public IP? "1,000's of hack attempts" on any public site doesn't actually seem worthy of a news report, let alone raising an eyebrow.

Apple opens iCloud to world+dog

rob miller


You're just not appreciating the efficiency gains available here. Not only do you no longer have to hassle with your crappy backup and security plans, but all that time you waste shopping can just disappear because we'll be able to provide you with just the advertisements you want to see for the products you need, based on your personal information. None of that computer generated noise either, we will provide personal confidantes who will know and understand your deepest desires based on a holistic understanding of the documents and data of your life. Eventually we'll be launching the iGet system, which will stream exciting products straight to you without you even bothering to ask. In the new lifestyle you will become one with the product space, as you work, produce and receive in harmony with the cloud -- and no longer have to interact with those dirty, disgusting people in your local community.

New Sony hack exposes more consumer passwords

rob miller

let's just review...

Let's just recall briefly what Sony did to piss people off so much. They sold the Playstation 3 with nice compute hardware and encouraged owners to install alternate OS's (Linux) on the device. Lots used this functionality, including for scientific research which Sony was happy to brag about in their publicity. Then they took the feature away in a system upgrade ('optional', the alternative being no more use as a gaming system). Some of their customers tried legal recourse by suing them, but were rebuffed when the judge said Sony never promised to keep the OtherOS functionality ('WTF' indeed...). Amazingly enough, some owners remained dissatisfied and worked out how to circumvent the DRM and restore the ability to run Linux. So Sony brought suit against these customers, but that failed because of jurisdictional issues (and nothing about people being able use hardware they own as they please).

So every day now bright, motivated coders wake up and look at this hardware, and remember this story. They also remember spousal unit using it as yet another example of money wasted on technology that didn't work out. Probably they don't get that same feeling of enjoyment any more using it for games or Linux (unless maybe it is contributing to another successful attack against Sony). For some this will have been 4-figure ($ or £) investments in hardware plus even more in time spent coding the system.

None of this condones vigilante (cyber) attacks or the theft of private data from individuals with no input to the situation anyway, but my guess is there's still a lot of people out there who feel Sony's punishment hasn't yet balanced the personal pain they inflicted. Clearly most of the news industry can't seem to include any of this in their reports, but I continue to wonder if this is understood at all in Sony's boardroom.

Source code leaked for pricey ZeuS crimeware kit

rob miller


the developers probably just had an epiphany and now see the obvious benefits of open source development. depending on the licensing of course (haven't gone looking for it on sourceforge yet), they could just hoover up the best improvements into their premium version as you say.

Dear Google and Facebook: You don't want Skype

rob miller

point of order

"in the hopes you won't be too pissed when they call during dinner hours."

is that the English pissed = American 'drunk' or the American pissed = English 'pissed off'?

either way works of course....

Apple fanbois leak secrets of Mac OS X Lion

rob miller
Big Brother

no TRIM for you sir...

so far TRIM support only appears for drives sold by apple -- reports from OCZ forums so far are 3rd party drives e.g. Vertex2 not shown to have TRIM support, while apple-supplied SSD in same machine has it. that tag looks reasonably generic from linux, so seems that apple have gone the extra mile to protect you by checking a safety list of ble$$ed models/vendors. well now, isn't that special?

Samsung intros 10in Android tablet

rob miller
Thumb Up

full print size photography

actually when I lust after a tablet, the lack of a high res (hopefully good quality) back-facing camera is the first thing that cuts a model from my list of consideration. perhaps it is my 30-odd years of serious photo experience that again sets me apart from the norm, but being able to see the full-size image in my hands AS I take the photo -- and then manipulating it with my fingers just like in the darkroom days -- that's my killer app.

We probe the Google anti-trust probe. Vigorously

rob miller

not a level playing field...

Seems certain that it's not a 'level playing field' and more could be done, but...

white lists: these would be sites that google trusts not to spam; who is easiest for them to put on that list? sure, depends on your definition but...

"Unique monthly US visitors to Google Maps and MapQuest" : well, yes, looks like the graph crosses about the same time I started using google maps more than streetmaps uk because yes it was already on the page

"When Google points to video with Universal Search, for instance, a vast majority comes from YouTube" : sorry, where the f else are you expecting to find video these days?

crikey people, too many of these are too easy to knock down with the 'algorithmic' argument. hope you're better in court.


rob miller
Thumb Up

bbc world in nigeria

yeah, just the beeb worldwide -- but good to see the vulture on the wingtips here even if they didn't give the deserved credit.

RIM opens its PlayBook – tablets clearly set for dominance

rob miller

perfectly capable of replacing some desktop PCs...

A sad bit looking back is that many of us with Nokia Internet Tablets - N700/N8x0/N9?? - have seen this for years. The form factor and weight issues described for the iPad are all accurate drawbacks and the 'correct' device is still waiting to be made from those long promised flexible displays. Nokia either missed completely or didn't have/apply the resources to figure out the app store or the kind of 'systems integration' RIM can do, and at least for Maemo development I only had to install an albeit less-polished VM instead of buying a Mac Mini, but they did have the devices in their stable early on.