* Posts by Filippo

839 posts • joined 24 Nov 2007

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Someone made an AI that predicted gender from email addresses, usernames. It went about as well as expected

Filippo

Re: The complaint seems confused

I suspect that feedback X is every bit as pointless as trying to explain Google News that you don't want to receive any news about sports or horoscopes.

LibreOffice community protests at promotion of paid-for editions, board says: 'LibreOffice will always be free software'

Filippo

Re: @HildyJ - Free

The developers of an open source project are typically not structured in such a way as to offer paid-for support. They don't have a clear pricing. They don't have a contract that can be reviewed. They don't have a phone number you can call. It's not clear who exactly you would pay, or how. They have no manager you can complain to if the support sucks. They are not actually trained to do support - and, by all means, insert all the snark you want here, but it's a fact that doing development and doing support are not the same job.

And that's just off the top of my head. If I thought hard about this, as anyone in an enterprise would do, I could certainly come up with another half dozen problems at least. They can probably all be solved, but that takes time, and time is money, and it might still not work.

And that's all assuming they are not employed by someone already, and contractually unable to provide paid-for support to third parties.

Linux kernel coders propose inclusive terminology coding guidelines, note: 'Arguments about why people should not be offended do not scale'

Filippo

Re: Loaded words replaced by euphemisms

That's a very bad argument. Doing a "something" that effectively achieves nothing is worse than doing nothing, because it gives people a false sense of accomplishment, and in doing so it may hinder future attempts to do something that's actually effective. We should not give people ways to excuse themselves out of the fight.

Any time you see a politician standing accused of having been ineffectual, and defending himself by claiming a laundry list of policies that have actually achieved nothing, you are seeing this effect in action.

One does not simply repurpose an entire internet constellation for sat-nav, but UK might have a go anyway

Filippo

Dude, the article does explain why it's not appropriate, very clearly. Wrong orbit, wrong clocks, wrong radios. Even if it could be repurposed, which isn't a given, it would do positioning very badly.

On the other hand, you are not attempting to counter ANY of the technical points the article makes - and no, "you should assume the government must know better" is not a counter, unless you actually show how and why.

Basically, you're ignoring the technical level entirely, and attempting to move the discussion to the political level alone. You're essentially doing exactly what you accuse the author of doing.

You've been using this strategy fairly consistently across multiple threads. Don't act surprised if you get labelled as a troll and ignored. I'm definitely ignoring you going forwards, and I'm certain you are not going to get any enlightenment from this post, but I figure pointing out exactly how you're being dishonest might be interesting for someone else.

CompSci student bitten by fox after feeding it McNuggets

Filippo

Re: Student puts hand full of food near apex predator

Student puts hand MADE of food near apex predator...

With intelligent life in scant supply on Earth, boffins search for technosignatures of civilizations in the galaxy

Filippo

"This leads to a spectral edge in [PV panels'] reflected light, which is distinguishable from the ‘red spectral edge’ produced by vegetation."

Honestly, solar panels would be awesome, but I'd be fairly thrilled to just catch evidence of vegetation on another planet.

CERN puts two new atom-smashers on its shopping list. One to make Higgs Bosons, then a next-gen model six times more energetic than the LHC

Filippo

I really wish that the idea of noble goals being in competition with each other would just go away. They really aren't.

First of all, in the long term, scientific research can and will improve the lives of the poor; this has been proven time and again. No, it won't do this in the short term. Always prioritizing the short term is arguably the reason we still even HAVE poverty.

Secondly, there are a gazillion activities that do *nothing* to improve *anything* except maybe in the very shortest term, and quite a few that actively make things worse. If you feel fighting homelessness is the top-priority cause, that's great; please go knock at the doors of the defense industry, soccer, mainstream entertainment, junk food, whatever. The list is so long it isn't even funny.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes: UK man gets 3 years for torching 4G phone mast over 5G fears

Filippo

Re: If the offender is indeed insane -

He's nuts because he believes that 5G causes COVID, but he's also a criminal because he committed arson. He tried to cover his traces, so he knew he was doing something illegal; he's not nuts in that way. Unless you're actually incapable of understanding that you're committing a crime, your being nuts won't prevent you from getting locked-up.

Also, if you're against a public work on the basis of nothing more than sheer delusion, damn right you should be overridden. You running ethernet through my house would not be a delusion.

And in any case, in *any* case, you can't burn stuff you don't like down. If you know for a fact that a building is dumping poison, you still go through the courts, or the newspapers, or your local politicians, and if everyone tells you that you're nuts, you suck it up and live with it or move house. There is literally no circumstance where burning it down is acceptable.

If Daddy doesn't want me to touch the buttons, why did they make them so colourful?

Filippo

Re: the "R" number

I suspect some people thought that you were sarcastically pretending not to know about something, as a way of signalling a position on a controversy; in the specific case, disagreeing with the author on whether it's currently safe to go to the park. Or some other variant on that genre.

Alternatively, some people disagree with discussing the pandemic on non-pandemic articles, regardless of merit, and will downvote anyone who does so. I'd guess it's one of these two.

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

Filippo

Re: Excessive complexity

"A well written program is easy to follow - not written like a contender for the obscured C contest."

I sometimes find myself having to argue with people who believe that being able to express a complex recursive algorithm in a single line is a mark of distinction and elegance, and also why call a variable instance_counter a function createUniqueKey when "ic" and "cruk" will do? Screw them.

Publishers sue to shut down books-for-all Internet Archive for 'willful digital piracy on an industrial scale'

Filippo

Re: But what about...

"But I presume you expect publishers to keep printing every book ever made, just in case you may want a copy."

Nope, but anything that cannot be legally purchased ought to automatically be out-of-copyright.

The whole point of copyright is to reward authors, while at the same time allowing other people to access and build on shared culture. An out-of-print book does neither.

SpaceX Crew Dragon docks at International Space Station

Filippo

Re: Why the delay?

I think AC has the correct detailed answer. But, speaking in general terms, I think that any time you do anything for the first time in space, no matter how certain you are that it's going to work, you do it as slowly and as accurately as you possibly can, and pause frequently to document everything. If it's mind-numbingly boring, you know you're doing it right.

So you really didn't touch the settings at all, huh? Well, this print-out from my secret backup says otherwise

Filippo

Re: Ah, customers.

Yup, that's typical. If you can fix it, then it was your fault. It happened to me a couple times. Nowadays, any time I find myself in a similar situation, I won't admit I can implement a workaround until there's an extensive paper trail that proves where the problem originates.

Microsoft brings WinUI to desktop apps: It's a landmark for Windows development, but it has taken far too long

Filippo

Yeah, it's not like web development based on all-open-source stacks is much better. The new shinies come and go even faster than MS's frameworks.

Azure-hosted AI for finding code defects emitted – but does it work?

Filippo

Re: "47,000 developers generate nearly 30 thousand bugs a month,"

I suspect it's total, but just *reported* bugs.

Wanna be a developer? Your coworkers want to learn Go and like to watch, er, Friends and Big Bang Theory

Filippo

Correlation and causation

Happier workers are willing to work longer hours.

UK finds itself almost alone with centralized virus contact-tracing app that probably won't work well, asks for your location, may be illegal

Filippo

Re: Of course, being centrally controlled

You don't. The problem isn't who is more trustworthy; that's near-zero for both anyway. The problem is who is more powerful.

I would *prefer* not to give my personal information to anyone, but if I *have* to, I'd rather give it to a big corporation than to my government. Both are fundamentally amoral entities, and both could (and probably will) misuse that information, but the amount of damage that a government can potentially do to an individual is orders of magnitude worse than anything any corporation could do.

We beg, implore and beseech thee. Stop reusing the same damn password everywhere

Filippo

A while ago there was a browser extension called BugMeNot that would quickly provide a login for a large number of sites that demanded registration for no good reason. That login would be the same for every user of BugMeNot. I wonder if it's still around.

Work from home surge may work in Wi-Fi 6's favour, reckons analyst house

Filippo

At home, my laptop appears to connect to my wifi, but it doesn't actually work. I've tried using a repeater, but that makes my phone jump randomly between networks (even when one is sitting right next to it).

Even in a best-case scenario, there's a wide area that's close enough to the AP to make a phone try to use wifi and not use the cellular network, but far enough that the wifi doesn't actually work. If you happen to be standing there, you'll just be disconnected, and drain the phone battery.

A friend used to connect his first-floor desktop to the DSL router on the ground floor, but after changing the router it's no longer working. None of these issues ever produce any useful error messages; most of the time it just declares to be working, except that everything times out.

By comparison, my cellphone's 4G always works, if it's in a place that's covered.

https://xkcd.com/1865/

So, does this new AX standard actually, y'know, work?

NASA makes May 27 its US independence day from Russian rockets: America's back in the astronaut business after nearly nine years

Filippo

Re: Now, if it just doesn't explode

I don't think they've made the same mistake twice so far. It's just that in this business there's all kinds of possible mistakes that all lead to explosions.

Kepler telescope is dead but the data lives on: Earth-sized habitable zone planet found after boffins check for errors

Filippo

That close to the star, won't it be tidally locked?

Minister slams 5G coronavirus conspiracy theories as 'dangerous nonsense' after phone towers torched in UK

Filippo

Re: The whole story smells of being a False Flag effort

In my experience, any text that has Scare Capitals is 100% bullshit. I have yet to see a single piece of text, no matter the medium or the author, that violates this rule.

Amazon says it fired a guy for breaking pandemic rules. Same guy who organized a staff protest over a lack of coronavirus protection

Filippo

Re: Unions

"Unions might be a good idea if they worked as they are ideally needed, but unfortunately human nature takes over."

Uh, yeah, it's true that some unions are inefficient and/or corrupt, but if you replace "unions" with "capitalism" there, you get an equally valid reasoning.

I mean, over-rewarding top execs for maximizing the short-term at the expense of tanking the company long-term is definitely a bug and not a feature, and so is the inability to handle externalities - and yet I don't think you'd say "I wouldn't go anywhere near a corporation".

Short of tech talent to deal with novel coronavirus surge? Let us help – with free job ads on The Register

Filippo

Even outside the joke, The Register is one of less than a handful of sites which are whitelisted in my adblocker. Exceptionally good sites, that employ actual journalists worthy of the title, need to be rewarded.

Forget toilet roll, bandwidth is the new ration: Amazon, YouTube also degrade video in Europe to keep 'net running amid coronavirus crunch

Filippo

Re: Excuse me...

"I'm not sure how continuously powering 50+ network devices around the globe is cheaper than temporarily powering 1... your own (mathematically I don't see how it's possible, do you have sources?)."

I think the numbers change substantially once you factor in the energy that goes into manufacturing the disc and moving it around. That said, I don't actually have any of those numbers, and I could be persuaded either way.

Bad news: Coronavirus is spreading rapidly across the world. Good news: Nitrogen dioxide levels are decreasing and the air on Earth is cleaner

Filippo

I suspect it's easier to improve our knowledge and technicque in biology to the point where time-to-market for vaccines is 10x shorter, than to reverse urbanization. Not that I think achieving the former is easy, but I think that achieving the latter is as close to impossible as it makes no difference.

Filippo

Re: "according to Worldometer's stats"

5k-10k deaths is what you'll get *if drastic mitigation measures are taken*. At which point, when the thing is over, it will look like the government overreacted.

Exponential growth is annoying like that: you need to stop it hard and early, but if you're successful, you can't help looking like you overreacted.

Filippo

Re: May I ask.....

There are many different types of pollutants in the air. Some of them do go away very quickly, and are only present in high amounts because human activity also produces them very quickly. If you stop human activity, they'll drop sharply. When activity resumes, they'll go back to the original levels.

Others last for a long time, and the epidemic won't impact them much.

Resellers facing 'months' of delays for orders to be fulfilled. IT gathers dust on docks as coronavirus-stricken China goes back to work

Filippo

Re: China is not the world

Italy has a whole lot more physical touch in its culture.

Italy has good hygiene, but I think the Japanese top almost everyone on that front (although I may just going by stereotypes there).

The Japanese seem not to mind wearing masks in general, and I bet they used them a whole lot more very quickly once news of the virus popped up.

The virus in Italy seems to have gotten into a couple of hospitals before being detected, and hospitals are clusters of elderly population activity.

I think it's a mix of the above factors.

Also, the numbers of infected people are unreliable, because you can't test everyone and a lot of victims have actually very mild symptoms and probably won't get tested.

The proportion of infected that actually get discovered probably varies wildly between countries, depending on which detection and containment strategies are employed. That will in turn make mortality rate comparisons sketchy.

Is technology undermining democracy? It's complicated, says heavyweight thinktank

Filippo

I don't believe so.

Scottish biz raided, fined £500k for making 193 million automated calls

Filippo

Re: Won't stop it.

In cases where there is flagrant law-breaking, the fine needs to be large enough to kill the company through asset seizing and liquidation, with any remainder applied to the directors. No performance bonus if there's no money left for it.

This AI is full of holes: Brit council fixes thousands of road cracks spotted by algorithm using sat snaps

Filippo

"what would have cost £1.5m instead cost £450k after software directed human workers"

So, *over two thirds* of the cost of plugging potholes is figuring out where the potholes are? Anyone care to explain how that is possible?

Rockstar dev debate reopens: Hero programmers do exist, do all the work, do chat a lot – and do need love and attention from project leaders

Filippo

I'm not sure what they're trying to prove. So, there are lots of projects where 20% of the staff does 80% of the work. So, there's a core team, and there's a bunch of contributors who toss in an hour or two when they can. It's open source; we're not all doing 8 hours/day 5 days/week on it. How is this weird?

Even if everyone had exactly the same level of skill, you'll still see a lopsided distribution, simply because not everyone is devoting the same amount of time to the project. On top of that, even at exactly the same level of skill, the people who spend more time on the project are going to be more efficient, simply because they know the internals much better, which is going to amplify the effect.

All of this is perfectly normal and reasonable. Why does this situation deserve odd, loaded terminology like "hero" or "rockstar"?

Beware the three-finger-salute, or 'How I Got The Keys To The Kingdom'

Filippo

Re: Inconveniently placed keys

The "power" button for my current laptop is the top-right button of the keyboard. The mind boggles to think at what thought process, if any, went into that decision.

'Supporting Internet Explorer is hell': Web developers identify top needs – new survey

Filippo

Re: "If you allow web applications to be more like native apps"

"Also, make sure you never program any SCADA interfaces with that, because God knows Russian hackers would just love to hijack that."

Some of my clients have started asking for exactly that. Start factory engines from the browser. I've flat out refused so far. Not sure how long I'll be able to keep doing it, though.

Microsoft emits long-term support .NET Core 3.1, Visual Studio 16.4

Filippo

Re: Proof in the pudding

Umm, no. I have a .NET 2.0 application from 2004 that's still in use, will happily run on any Windows box from XP to 10, and I have no reason to believe that it's going to stop working any time soon.

Sure, if I wanted it to run on Linux or Android or whatever, I'd have to do some work on it, but that would hold true for any application that was not originally designed to be multi-platform.

No wonder Bezos wants to move industry into orbit: In space, no one can hear you* scream

Filippo

I have no idea, but that's not really the point. You don't have to move *the entirety* of heavy industry in order for this to make sense.

If there are some industries that just don't work in space, then keep them on Earth and/or only move to space the bare minimum you need to build and service machinery.

Ultimately, you just need to move enough to make the off-planet system economically workable. After that, there will be a very strong incentive to figure out how to make more stuff in a vacuum (because, barring sci-fi new tech, shipping stuff upwell is never going to be really cheap), so chances are that the system will grow by itself, and relieve pressure on Earth by doing so.

Filippo

Re: Not a new idea

"Quite apart from which, moving like locusts to another place because we're wrecking Earth will likely result in us wrecking that as well, as it's the attitude that needs changing, not the place."

You say that as if anyone anywhere had any idea on how to actually accomplish that.

I 100% believe that colonizing the Solar System is going to be easier than changing humanity's attitude towards sustainable usage of resources.

Actually, I could easily be convinced that colonizing *other star systems* would be easier than that.

If anyone comes up with a non-dystopic way to reliably get people to start behaving responsibly, by all means implement it. In the mean time, though, exploiting space will at least buy us time.

Yeah, my support of space exploration is driven by pessimism, not by optimism.

Filippo

The way to do this would be to start by lifting some small-scale multi-purpose manufacturing capability equivalent to a small workshop, as well as dragging a suitable small asteroid into orbit. Mine it and use the output to make larger machinery. Eventually, you'll have enough output to start making stuff for Earth; dropping it down the well is vastly cheaper than lifting, energetically speaking. Yes, the time-scale is in the order of decades; that's fine. We'd start on this now if we had the ability to make plans further in the future than one election cycle.

Directly lifting industrial-scale structures is nuts, nobody is proposing that.

In Rust We Trust: Stob gets behind the latest language craze

Filippo

Re: Do...While

"Why would you ever use a Do/While? The standard While performs all the same requirements at the cost of one parameter check for the first iteration."

I've used it a handful of times... to save one parameter check on the first iteration (compared to the standard While).

Register Lecture: Is space law 'hurting' commercial exploration?

Filippo

Re: Space exploration - criminal waste of money

Because money does not really work that way, not on this scale. Spending money on space exploration does not detract from fighting climate change (or cancer or whatever "phenomenal problem" you were thinking about). Problems on this scale are all about collective willpower; money is only a consequence of that.

Gas-guzzling Americans continue to shun electric vehicles as sales fail to bother US car market

Filippo

Re: "plug-in hybrids, full electric or fuel cell cars"

Those are, for all intents and purposes, just gasoline cars with better MPG. All of their energy ultimately comes from gasoline.

One man's mistake, missing backups and complete reboot: The tale of Europe's Galileo satellites going dark

Filippo

Yes, this is typical EU. But, all things considered, the fact that "typical Europe" now means "coming up with awesome shared projects and then fucking them up due to political bickering" is a massive improvement. I mean, "typical Europe" before the EU used to mean "war". Had been since literally forever. If it takes another hundred years to get a EU that really works, the process will still look pretty good in a history book.

Microsoft has made a Surface slab that mere mortals can dismantle

Filippo

Re: 8GB ram????

That's just not true. I've worked on a Win10 machine with 8 GB for years before upgrading to 16 GB. You need to be well into power user territory before the difference becomes noticeable.

NSA to Congress: Our spy programs don’t work, aren’t used, or have gone wrong – now can you permanently reauthorize them?

Filippo

Re: Although I agree the NSA have not really provided a blazing list of sucesses

If capability and accountability are so much at odds that there is absolutely no way to have one without hurting the other, then a balance will have to be struck, and capability will just have to suffer a bit.

Unaccountable agencies are intrinsically harmful to democracy, and that harm cannot be ignored altogether.

Providing sufficient information to guarantee accountability might hurt capability a bit, but I really do not believe that it will cripple it.

Remember the Uber self-driving car that killed a woman crossing the street? The AI had no clue about jaywalkers

Filippo

From what I understand, it looks like each time an object gets re-classified, its tracking history is erased. Because of this, if an object's classification is ambiguous, there is a side effect of the system being unable to track its path. So it's always considered to be static.

I'm sure the real problem goes deeper than that, but my programmer's gut feeling is that re-classification should not erase tracking history.

That is, the problem isn't "the software wasn't designed to classify jaywalkers"; the fundamental problem is "the software should avoid ambiguously-classified objects".

Tech and mobile companies want to monetise your data ... but are scared of GDPR

Filippo

Sounds like the GDPR is working exactly as intended.

Inside the 1TB ImageNet data set used to train the world's AI: Naked kids, drunken frat parties, porno stars, and more

Filippo

Re: AI Learning

That's a good point. An AI that can detect illegal porn would be useful, but I have no idea how one could possibly train it and test it.

From Libra to leave-ya: eBay, Visa, Stripe, PayPal, others flee Facebook's crypto-coin

Filippo

The power of financial providers and regulators is intrinsic in the job they do. Replace them with someone else, that someone else will be monitoring and controlling you. The problem cannot be solved by finding someone who doesn't do monitoring and have them provide financial services, because the moment they do financial services, they'll start monitoring. It's not a technical problem and it can't be solved by technical means.

Not a death spiral, I'm trapped in a closed loop of customer experience

Filippo

Re: Signed documents

I've long ago understood and accepted that signatures never, ever get checked, unless and until somebody actively requires them to be checked. They are not an authentication device; they are an ass-covering device.

Incidentally, if you think of bureaucracy as "liability engineering", the world suddenly makes a whole lot more sense.

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