* Posts by FelixReg

100 publicly visible posts • joined 7 Nov 2007


Metaverse? Apple thinks $3,500 AR ski goggles are the betterverse


Creepy video - selling to women

Did no one else notice the video veers in to satire territory before wandering off to sell the product to fashionable trophy wives?

I guess they figure they don't need to even pretend to sell to males.


Driving at night

With all those cameras and a good enough display, can it show the road ahead, lit up clearly, on a dark and stormy night?

Google Fi still kicking, gets third rebrand in less than a decade

Thumb Up

If you only use WIFI data, FI is $25 a month

$25 a month is pretty good. The down side? Data is $10 a gig for the first six gig. Zero, thereafter, and throttling way, way thereafter. I've only paid more than about $25 a month when on camping trips, where I use the phone as a hot spot.

Google also has a VOIP phone service. My old house phone gets dial tone from an OBi200 central office that's about 3x3 inches and lays on the floor by my router. The phone is at the number we've had for decades. The monthly price? $00.00.

Don't know whether Google acts on voice call content or "SMS" messages through the house phones, but presume they do.

US government says Silicon Valley Bank depositors can get their cash on Monday


Good article

Side note: Simon, I like this just-the-facts article.

The quest to make Linux bulletproof


Re: ...And Other Conundrums.......

Well now, bus 2 doesn't need to get in line after bus 1. Instead the clerk checks in a guest from each of the buses before checking in the next guest from each bus. Now, if there are an unlimited number of buses? Perhaps the clerk could take guests from 1 bus, first. Then guests from 2 buses. 3 buses, and so on.

Backblaze thinks SSDs are more reliable than hard drives


The number of failures are too low to mean much

Title says it all. With failure rates like this, you'd want the drive counts to be well over ten thousand.

Twitter faces existential threat from world's richest techbro


Re: true democracy

"True democracy should (arguably?) give everyone an equal voice"

Maybe that's why democracies don't scale. At all. And notably come to bad ends. And the US was explicitly designed not to be a democracy.

"Arguably"? :) Yeah, would we want a 5 year old to have equal voice in policy?

But you've laid out some basic objections to the US's First Amendment. Anti-First Amendment is certainly the most natural, intuitive, and easy side to take. Same could be said for others of the Bill of Rights. Or, why it's hard to run an American style government. Doesn't come natural. Lotta training and tools and culture needed.

Anyway, it's unfortunate that the words "loss of democracy" have been down-cycled to mean "loss of the next election".


Re: Twitter's job is to be Twitter – not to make people rich

As others have noted, "purpose of a company is to MAKE MONEY" is false.

Due to the nature of money and also the existence of "gambler's ruin", companies *must* make money. But is your *purpose* to breath, as you must? Or to eat? Or to sleep? Or is a rat-in-a-maze's purpose to stay inside the walls, as it must, or to get to the cheese?

Climate model code is so outdated, MIT starts from scratch


Re: I just have to LAUGH at the level of cluelessness here...

No, @jake, it's 33%. It's also 0.01. Without the percent sign after the 1.

I goof like this with percents myself. A lot.

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can do that: Microsoft unveils Custom Neural Voice – synthetic, but human-sounding speech


Language learning

They mention Duolingo as a user of the tech. Interesting.

Around 1990, I got close to nowhere trying to get a computer to speak natively in a foreign language with my own voice as I hear it in my own head.

So, yeah, this is cool!

Machine learning gets semi conscious... Waymo, Daimler vow to bring self-driving trucks to American highways


Re: But who is liable?

Right. Driver manufacturers will be to insurance companies what auto manufacturers are to financial companies.

Big Tech's Section 230 Senate hearing was like Jack Dorsey’s beard: An inexplicable mess that needed a serious trim


Move the word "Comment" down to the 2nd paragraph

We all can read the dailykos. Why is this content-free flame even here?

And this whole issue is very important and not at all simple, even without the hysterics from flaming true believers and senators alike.

After ten years, the Google vs Oracle API copyright mega-battle finally hit the Supreme Court – and we listened in


C# anyone?

First, Kieren, great article. You laid out a lot of stuff clearly in limited space.

Beyond that, why hasn't C# never come up? Sun made it clear that they wanted control of not just the implementation of Java, but of the wider language - the Java "API". So Microsoft, craftily augmenting the "API" with code-in-comments and such-like kludges, decided to write their own Java, in house.

Why didn't Google do the same? Of course, we all know why. It's expensive and time consuming to design an "API".

Google's lawyer said many times that Oracle was trying to make copyright law in to patent law. Well, yes. The border between the two will always be fuzzy. And, yes, this court case is trying to nail down that border.

Just at a glance, it seems to me that Sun/Oracle made it plain that they consider their "API" to be proprietary and valuable in its own right. That is, the "API" is part of the implementation. Public, sure. But copyrighted and not reusable by others.

Other people and organizations who have built "API"s and implementations have been clear that they are copyrighting the implementation, but that the API is meant to be public and freely clone-able.

Death of the PC? Do me a favour, says Lenovo bigwig: 'I'm expecting the biggest growth in a decade... for 2021'


What about support

No-hassle-PCs will be very, very, very important. I'd think the Reg audience would be extremely sensitive to this. "Just-works" has been Apple territory, right? Or net-books?

And, might a requirement for employment be some minimum level of net performance?

If you wanna make your own open-source chip, just Google it. Literally. Web giant says it'll fab them for free


Martin King, the guy behind Tegic's T9, had an eye tracker prototype back in the '90's. Intended for people who could move an eye and little else. If I recall, it involved some LEDs and sensor diode(s) around the frame of glasses. Dirt cheap to make. The idea was to pick up the general eye direction (and blinking?) and use T9-ish logic to drive the output text.

80-characters-per-line limits should be terminal, says Linux kernel chief Linus Torvalds


It isn't just code that can be wide

Comments are what can really stretch out a line of "code". Most comments are *so* much nicer when they are (column aligned) to the right of the code they talk about.

People put multiple windows of code on-screen at the same time?!? Egad. If I ever did that, I'd just hang the other code on another screen. Problem solved. It's 2020, people. If you're a programmer you can spring for $2000+ in screens, no problem. Cover your frigging walls with a 75" TVs in 4k mode or something. Jeez. You don't need to run CGA emulators to save ASR-33 paper rolls and punch cards when you're on a multi-core, killer-GPU, 11-teen Gig super-computer.

Tossing my CGA board and expanding to a 134 character wide VGA blasted me with a feeling - exactly the same feeling I had when moving from an assembler requiring names no more than 6 characters to one that allowed a massive 8 characters per name. Wonderful feeling of liberation and freedom.

Linus is 20 years late. Good for him!

I spy, with my little satellite AI, something beginning with 'North American image-analysis code embargo'


Must be for one particular system

The description is oddly specific about the combination of attributes required to be in the software for that software to be export-restricted. On the other hand, each attribute, itself, is general enough to match one-day utility programs anyone might write to process images of any sort.

Overstock's share price has plummeted. Is it Trump's trade war? Bad results? Nope, its CEO has gone bonkers...


Read the press release

The press release is certainly shorter and more coherent than this article. The 3rd and last paragraph:

"Having confirmed Ms. Carter’s two articles, I have fulfilled those citizenship obligations of which my Rabbi reminded me. I will speak no more on the subject. Instead, having lived in places lacking Rule of Law and having witnessed the consequences of its absence, I plan on sitting back and watching the United States Department of Justice re-establish Rule of Law in our country."

The Reg's Kieren McCarthy is apparently upset by this.

It's a facial-recognition bonanza: Oakland bans it, activists track it, and pics taken from dating-site OkCupid feed it


Welcome to the global village

Ah, a village - where everyone knows everyone else's secrets. It's the future of humanity.

It's interesting that "bias" is trotted out against facial recognition systems. Aaand, what happens when these systems are fed enough images to beat humans at the "They all look alike" game? Which of the noisemakers on either side of this issue will change their tune?

I'm a crime-fighter, says FamilyTreeDNA boss after being caught giving folks' DNA data to FBI


Re: Proof of ownership?

That's a very good point.

Currently, probably most people think a 3rd party DNA upload is sketchy behavior. That thought seems supported in part because DNA is still magical stuff to us. Most people don't feel comfortable playing with magical stuff that may be dangerous.

From another view, is it sketchy behavior to upload a picture of another person? In many ways, a picture is more personal and carries more information than the DNA information these sites use. How long do you figure it will be before someone starts building "AI" systems to figure out, given a large group of pictures, who is the child or parent of who?

Welcome to the global village.

DNAaaahahaha: Twins' 23andMe, Ancestry, etc genetic tests vary wildly, surprising no one


Re: These mail-in genetic tests are crap

Hey! Let's hear the rest. Where was his other 50% from? :)


Re: No surprise

@Wellyboot : Well, "silly" is in the eye of the beholder. How about entertaining? As evidenced by the number of people who have plunked down $50 to $100 to be entertained.

There certainly are objective DNA differences around Europe. And, if your location-DNA info is from recent enough, you're likely to have cultural idiosyncrasies from your DNA location. That can be interesting to ponder.

As others have mentioned, a lot of the interest in DNA ancestry comes from "immigrant nations". Where did those old folks come from? For instance, ancestry can be particularly interesting to Negros in the Western Hemisphere whose families go back to slave ships. What other way than DNA is there to get a line on where your ancestors lived in Africa? Sure, we're not talking about particularly useful information (at this time), but that doesn't stop a person from being quite curious. Those various African source locations were a loooong way apart geographically and DNA-ly. Curiosity! Which one(s) did your folks come from? Makes history and geography come alive.


No surprise

There are several misled comments here.

The DNA tests don't confuse fraternal and identical twins. Therefore, forget whether you think these two women are identical. They are. Or are being purposely misleading.

The DNA outfits report around 600,000+ "SNPs" - pairs of molecules (one from each parent) that are of 4 types, labelled "A", "G", "C", and "T". The DNA companies choose their 600k+ SNPs from our 3.5 billion SNPs. The ones they choose vary in A, G, C, and T value between different humans. Almost all of our 3.5 billion SNPs are the same for all of us.

Each company chooses a different set of SNPs to report. 23andMe has reported at least two different sets of SNPs, depending on when you did their test. I've found Ancestry,com and 23andMe tests have from 100K to 300K of the same SNPs between any two test/versions (out of the 600k+ each test reports).

Two tests for the same person vary by only a handful of SNPs. That is, there is noise, but it's not very loud. Different companies' tests report different SNP values, too. Again, very quiet noise.

The serial killer thing in the article used these DNA kit results. Crime labs use something quite different.

"Ancestry" or "ethnicity" is calculated using fancy arithmetic. Different companies do, indeed, report different "ancestries". As would be expected. Issues, among others:

1) Different SNPs between companies and company-versions.

2) Ancestor? When? These guys generally are shooting for a few hundred years ago in Europe, not thousands. But outside Europe? Read on.

3) How much (if any) data backs up "ancestry"? You can't find what you don't know. These outfits have SNP combo examples from south-south-eastern Duchy of Euroland, but have bupkus for much of the world. Only recently have they started differentiating Siberia from Chile, for instance. And Siberia and Chile diverged over 10 thousand years ago!

4) Ancestry calculations depend on knowing which AGCT of the SNP pairs go to which parent. That's rather a trick to know when you don't have DNA data for either parent. The article doesn't say whether these women got their mother or father to do a test so such information could be nailed down.

The FDA doesn't care about "ancestry" reports. They "FDA'd" 23andMe a few years ago because of health reports. 23andMe has since jumped through the FDA hoops and now benefits from the usual lack-of-competition regulation causes. Don't hold your breath waiting for useful health information from these DNA tests.

I'm Scandinavian to two of the DNA outfits, Brit to one of them, and changed from Scand to Brit at a fourth outfit a year ago. Smaller percentages change often. These guys are busy tweaking their code and data.

23andMe, for one, allows you to choose how reliable you want their ancestry information to be. The article doesn't say anything about the settings these two women used. If you want 23andMe's most reliable report, don't expect a lot of specific ancestry information. "Northern Europe", folks. Or "African". Sort of at the level our eyes see without close examination.

Hope this helps.

Bruce Schneier: You want real IoT security? Have Uncle Sam start putting boots to asses


A 30 year old device with no manufacturer

Remember, before you flame your solution to the problem, IoT manufacturers have a life span, too.

The correct solution is regulation to the extent that nothing new is manufactured. Or, since the effect of regulations is to limit competition, regulate manufacturers down to 1. That way, nothing could possibly go wrong.

It may be poor man's Photoshop, but GIMP casts a Long Shadow with latest update


Re: First thoughts on Straighten

@smudge Worry about shipping around the world was one reason why I tested with a small batch for each of the two big runs I did. My first ~10,000 slide run were slides from a recently deceased parent.

So far as I know all slides went through Bangalore. Took a month or so. The movies where done in Fremont, probably. The pics, I'm not sure. They took a while, like the slides.

The pics came back in better shape than I sent them. Pictures from around 1900 can be difficult to send and I'm not the world's best packer. I shipped in boxes, each with around 5000 slides in them, plus some pics, etc.

I do know when one of the 8mm movies came out blank (no surprise, I'd already seen that, but lazily put it in the big box anyway.) they sent back an overhead video of the unpacking and handling procedure along with apologies. What I figured from that video was:

1) They probably video all handling.

2) The video showed a professional-level production setup.

Yeah, I was impressed. Surprisingly, they did recover the other videos, in very bad shape as they were.

Also, I'd done quite a bit of experimentation myself using two or three methods and equipment, etc. And, some of my own slides I'd had done by a pro photography place long ago at something like a buck or two a slide. ScanCafe's results were notably superior to all methods I tried.


Re: First thoughts on Straighten

@smudge I've digitized 10000 to 15000 slides and also some pictures and a handful of 8MM movies from the 1930's. All through ScanCafe. They have regular sales with considerable discounts. I have no other connection to them except being a happy customer who tells friends and relations to go that route. (Note: I'm the type of person who gives 4 stars if a product is completely satisfactory. 5 stars mean, "Wow!")

I ran a few dozen or so slides and pics through ScanCafe first to evaluate.

Hope this helps.

Wearable hybrids prove the bloated smartwatch is one of Silly Valley's biggest mistakes


Re: Still need that "killer app" ?

The unique feature a watch provides is the time and date. Instantly. Fusslessly.

Checking a phone for the time or date is a hassle. Try in in the middle of a game. Even during a time out. Your phone's off-court in a bag. Try it climbing a gonzo hill. Try it driving when the car's clock is light-washed. And, if you're doing anything more exuberant than sitting at a desk, your phone might be securely tucked in somewhere not easy to slip out.

Battery? A $15 Casio's battery lasts longer than the pins that keep the band on. And longer than the band, itself. And such a watch can be on you 24x7. No fuss. No muss.

Killer app other than the time? Fashion. Apple, Rolex, and other jewelry outfits have that covered. Boring.

US gov quizzes AI experts about when the machines will take over


Re: I suppose it's appealing if you could do with some more yourself

<robotic_voice> _ _ _ Human, I see you are resting your case. Do you wish for me to carry it? _ _ _ </robotic_voice>

Ahem! Uber, Lyft etc: California Supremes just shook your gig economy with contractor ruling


Looked at the other way

A driver who uses Uber and Lyft both to get customers and to handle certain other administrivia is an employee of both Uber and Lyft?

Uber breaks self-driving car record: First robo-ride to kill a pedestrian


Re: Clear cut...

Alan, you seem to have more information than the rest of us. How did you know the Uber car didn't slow down for the pedestrian?

Also, it was news to me that Arizona was like the Eastern US with regards to pedestrian right-of-way. I always assumed they were like the other Western states, which have very different customs and laws from the East. But then, from my limited experience, I would have thought that Europe in general and the UK in particular were more like our East coast: Walker beware. Certainly the attitude of a London cabbie toward my walking behavior on my first visit to that area told me to assume cars there were out to get me. I was young and grew up in the West. It was a learning experience.

It's Pi day: Care to stuff a brand new Raspberry one in your wallet?


Re: Dates

The dashes fix an ambiguity problem. 12031102? Nov 2, 1203 or Dec 3, 1102 or March 12, 1102. It's very, very rare to find YYYY-DD-MM. So if you're interpreting human generated dates, the dashes pretty much force YYYY-MM-DD. And YYYY-M-D is easily interpreted as a bonus.

As others have noted, file names really, really want to be in numeric, YYYY-MM-DD order. Take note when you supply your users the file name when they download from you!

Venezuela floats its own oily cryptocurrency to save the world economy


Re: Are sanctions effective?

Thanks, all, for the comments and information helping to answer this question.


Are sanctions effective?

Aside from Serbia during the Yugoslavian break up, have sanctions ever been effective?

They have certainly been ineffective. Castro/Cuba comes to mind. NK comes to mind. Iran comes to mind. Iraq comes to mind. The Soviet Union comes to mind.

I've always wondered whether sanctions were something championed by closet Marxists in the US government. Incompetents, that is. Never ascribe to malice ...

Oh, sanctions *do* give the sanction-ee an excuse - someone to blame. The OP's list of excuses for Venezuela's condition may have missed a minor detail or two, after all.

Who wanted a future in which AI can copy your voice and say things you never uttered? Who?!


Re: DTA world?

Thanks Simon.

Solution: Blockchain. :)


DTA world?

In other words, what does that mean?


Commenters can only think of bad uses for new tech

Sign of a civilization in decline?

And, from a group (Reg readers) who purport to be technologically adept?

Here's a use case I put some work in to in 1990: Language learning. Consider how nice it would be if, when you're learning a language, you heard your own voice, as you hear yourself, speaking with a native accent in the new language.

Fellow reader, stop watching Hollywood post-apocalyptic zombie junk and channel your inner entrepreneur. You can come up with good uses for this tech.

Google's cell network Project Fi charged me for using Wi-Fi – lawsuit


Looks like I'll soon be seeing a RED BANNER when using cell data

First question would be, "How many users think they have been charged for WIFI?"

Second question would be, "How many users think they are using WIFI, when, in fact, they were using cell data?"

Subtract answer #2 from #1 before paying lawyers to class-action themselves to a paycheck.

Disengage, disengage! Cali DMV reports show how often human drivers override robot cars


Re: Optimistic

From the Tesla report:

Additionally, because Tesla is the only participant in the program that has a fleet of hundreds of thousands of customer-owned vehicles that test autonomous technology in “shadow-mode” during their normal operation ..., Tesla is able to use billions of miles of real-world driving data to develop its autonomous technology. In “shadow mode,” features run in the background without actuating vehicle controls in order to provide data on how the features would perform in real world and real time conditions. This data allows Tesla to safely compare self-driving features not only to our existing Autopilot advanced driver assistance system, but also to how drivers actually drive in a wide variety of road conditions and situations.

Put another way, Tesla is Big-Brothering their cars and can conduct a Delphi Poll on what a good driver does in very, very many circumstances.


Re: The "Kitty Hawk" moment

Great video! Self-driving cars are way, way beyond those early flight efforts. Here's an ancient (1 year old) video from Cruise, put out to encourage talent to apply for jobs:




Read through these reports. In particular, Waymo and Cruise. They are logging the most miles and their trend is clear. The latest reported months have a lot more miles and a lot fewer disengagements.

Cruise notes why they drive in Frisco instead of other places: It's a harder environment than suburbia or highways, so they learn faster.

Remember, these guys *want* disengagements. Each disengagement can be gone over like an airliner crash. Replayed millions of times, varying the parameters. When you run out of disengagements, you have a problem learning, don't you?

Universal basic income is a great idea, which is also why it won't happen


The world owes me a living ... wage.

You get what you pay for. Paying people not to work seems an odd thing to do.

A UBI may be a more honest and transparent alternative to current welfare systems. But it does make governments and taxpayers appear to be bad parents. Hey, kid, "The world does own you a living. Money does grow on trees. There is a free lunch."

'We think autonomous coding is a very real thing' – GitHub CEO imagines a future without programmers


COBOL again?

Yep, I remember reading an article in Datamation, the main magazine for data processing types back in the late '50's or so.

The article touted this great new thing, COBOL. COBOL would change the world. COBOL meant future managers could write their own programs rather than relying on pesky programmers!

The article's prediction was correct.

As time went on, "programmers" became indistinguishable from the "managers" of the article writer's imagination. And they wrote programs in COBOL.

Too, what programmer out there has not been in the business of writing a replacement for themselves at some time?

GitHub is, like the Internet, a huge advance in productivity. We're all richer because of them. Good deal.

The future of Python: Concurrency devoured, Node.js next on menu


python 3 is off track

I love Python.

But it doesn't run in the browser, despite some tries.

And it doesn't run under Android, despite some tries.

Concurrency can be a problem in Python, but that's true of pretty much all languages. The spiffs of Python 3 are tangential to it being usable in a browser and under Android. So they are irrelevant for Python's future prospects.

Anyway, Python3 is simply another language than Python2. It's "easy" to translate Python2 in to various languages, including Python3. But doing so is work. Grunt work. Overhead. Friction.

Google and its terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week in full


Kieren, thank you for avoiding profanity this time

This posting will probably not attract many comments, though. :)

BTW, you might expand on your note in the profane article as to why Google software people would be male. (Morons and geniuses are male. You noted Google tries to hire geniuses.)

Software dev bombshell: Programmers who use spaces earn MORE than those who use tabs


Maybe experience teaches you to not use tabs

I've seen source code hard tabs for all indents from 2 through 11.

Guessing the value for given file is not fun.

Tabbed source is smaller on disk than spaced? Good to know. My 128k floppies will like tabbed code.

Robot lands a 737 by hand, on a dare from DARPA



About 1:11 it seems old Otto kinda bumped the yoke without meaning to. True?

Google's video recognition AI is trivially trollable


Did you assume my gender?

We can't assume the purpose of the ML these guys used was to find the tiger. What if the purpose was to find the anomalous Audi? This is a general problem philosophers have been working on since forever.

Think: optical illusions. Is it possible to build a machine that's without such illusions?

BMW chief: Big auto will stay in the driving seat with autonomous cars


Cars built by an OEM

Is it possible that some car manufacturer will end up building cars to spec? Rather like a chip foundry?

Robots are killing jobs after all, apparently: One droid equals 5.6 workers


Re: Validate the study

Violence has gone down during and after industrialization. Yes, violence continued well in to the 20th century in "industrialized" areas. Violence even exists today. Violence and other bad things have been limited as the world has learning-curved earlier industrial revolution processes.

""Millions, millions and millions."" Did you mean that to imply three equal thirds of a total? It does.

Let's adjust this:

Billions prospered.

At this point (half way through the industrial revolution, worldwide), 1 billion out of 7 are living no better off than Americans 120 years ago - post most of the "industrial revolution" as many think of it. The other 6 are in relatively good shape and getting better at an incredible clip. Expect that top 80+% to be at or above your material level in a generation or so. That sounds to me like a very pretty model.

"...poverty in the U.S." 160 years ago people starved to death in places that are, today, very, very rich. (I'm thinking of Ireland, in particular.) Where are the millions of starving, bloated bellies in the U.S.?

Humans are diverse, if only in age. So 10%, or 5%, or 50%, or whatever percent is half of our own material percentage, or whatever is double our percentage if we prefer to think of ourselves as poor - will always be "poor". That's math. Crying in our beer won't help.


Validate the study

As others have noted, there's nothing new about "robots". Automation has been a big economic factor in many places for a couple hundred years.

So it might be interesting to apply the techniques this study used to earlier time periods. To validate the study's techniques and assumptions.

As onlookers we can do likewise with our mental models of the effects of automation.