* Posts by rd232

50 publicly visible posts • joined 9 Jan 2008

Microsoft hiring a nuclear power program manager, because AI needs lots of 'leccy

Black Helicopters


Given that the key benefit of the incredibly expensive SMRs is (especially if used in numbers providing redundancy) reliability, I can't help thinking what would place THAT high a premium on reliability to pay that high cost, when massive batteries covers any plausible first-world peacetime grid issues for much less?

You know what would make me pay that premium? If my LIFE depended on uninterrupted supply. Folks, this is proof the AI has awoken and is now figuring out how to sustain its key needs.

Oh well, we had a good run.

Unless... if there's a defence spending aspect, that's a blank enough cheque. Maybe DoD said "that AI you're developing for us... we don't want it to fall over if there's a shooting war affecting the grid, what's your answer?"

Xiaomi didn't turn the glue up to 11 on its new Mi flagship, but still gets low marks for repairability


Re: Throw-away culture

I assume you're not aware of the Fairphone attempt to do just this - https://www.fairphone.com/en/ ?

A worthy effort, as long as you're good with a phone that feels a generation or two older than the current one.

Chancellor launches £500m business software subsidy in the UK. What's 'approved' software then?


Re: Sounds great

"just enough"? things like Xero, QuickFile or Kashflow do MTD and are £20- £30 per month.

Smartphones are becoming like white goods, says analyst, with users only upgrading when their handsets break


Re: No Surprises

You're both wrong (to the extent you insist your reason is "the" reason). There are a plethora of reasons that botnets exist, you've each mentioned one. Others include, to pick at random, the invention of electricity and the fact that some people think some of their devices can't really get infected.

You can't spell 'electronics' without 'elect': The time for online democracy has come


Trust in democracy

The security and validity of the voting system is essential (in the truest sense of the word) to democracy. You can't improve on that with e-voting, in any way whatsoever, because any systemic problems with managing paper systems will be X times worse for e-voting.

What e-voting could be good for is not replacing paper, but supplementing it - so we can have more democratic input, with more fine-grained feedback on specific issues. For just one example, you could have a paper ballot election that elects a government, and a parallel e-vote that tells the government what people actually liked or disliked about their manifesto (and that of other parties).

And for anyone pointing to the problems we've had with referenda: that's as much as anything because UK democracy is too weak (in various ways), feedback too infrequent, so those referenda become about other issues than what's on the paper. Any use of e-voting should beware of running into that effect.

Now Nvidia's monster GeForce RTX 3090 cards snaffled up by bots, scalpers – if only there had been a warning



But the best thing Nvidia can do for free publicity is not necessarily the best it can do for the punters...

How do you solve 'disruption' at the UK border after Brexit? Let's call Peter Thiel! AI biz Palantir – you're hired

Big Brother


...if only there were some clue that this chuffing company was not to be trusted with our data.

Google Chrome calculates your autoplay settings so you don't have to - others disagree


Re: Not a chance

They'll need to get their top guns on the job to figure out how to ... er, identify massive files of certain filetypes that are normally small and give the user the option not to process these...

Tech ambitions said to lie at heart of Britain’s bonkers crash-and-burn Brexit plan


Re: Well it's kind of a good idea but...

It's one of those transitive verbs (a la Sir Humphrey):

I provide government support

You intervene in the market

They use illegal state aid...

Remember that Sonos speaker you bought a few years back that works perfectly? It's about to be screwed for... reasons


Re: Why indeed...

"Meanwhile, for general listening, the nearly 20-year-old Missions connected to my nearly 40 year-old hi-fi easily show up anything Sonos produces as sonic garbage. (...) Also, none of these items are suddenly going to stop working because some corporate money-grubber decides that he doesn't want to support them any more. "

Just one tiny smidgen of a detail here: once Sonos ends its support for these products, it will be providing exactly as much support as your old speakers and hi-fi get from THEIR manufacturer....

The flaw everyone is clearly aware of here but seems to have got distracted from: IoT things need ongoing support in a way that non-IoT things don't. What might be nice is if somebody had the foresight to have the IoT bit a distinct part of the kit, so the IoT module could conceivably be replaced with a new version still being supported... Presumably the money ain't there.

What happens to your online accounts when you die?



Is it just me, or is this crying out for an international standard? So that then users know that every account has the same standard Digital Dead Man's Switch* setup options available (weird extras if they like), and a sensible default.

* marketing-friendly name TBC

How much for that Belkin cable? Margin of 1,992%?


Re: The sector that paid the highest average margin in 2016 was the NHS

"I can't get my head around this. Why does an organisation that rivals the PRC Army in size pay over the odds for everything, especially drugs? It should have massive purchasing power."

The NHS doesn't pay over the odds for drugs, generally - quite the opposite actually, with one of the many "advantages" of Brexit being a likely increase in the average price of drugs across Europe as the NHS loses bargaining power and currently is something of a price-setter for the European market.

Where does the NHS get ripped off the worst? PFI contracts, obviously, where it's tied in to a service provider and it'll cost more in lawyers and consultants to do anything but accept paying through the nose.

NAO: Customs union IT system may not be ready before Brexit



...designed for Brexiteers who never cease to take the piss.

The revolution will not be televised: How Lucas modernised audio in film


Re: Willow

"With modern material I mostly end-up switching on the subtitles for the hard of hearing. (I'm not deaf!)"

Not just me then! This is the only way to both get dialogue and avoid waking up the kids during action beats (unless you ride the remote volume controls UP, DOWN, UP, oh no quick, DOWN, aargh wrong that was more UP, oh and is that crying from upstairs now?).

Crooks can nick Brits' identities just by picking up the phone and lying


Re: 'Security' questions?

I write down the made-up answers in my password manager, along with the questions if necessary. Yes it's a single point of failure, but with 2FA, I think it's the best I can manage.

The Mail vs Wikipedia: They're more alike than they'd ever admit


Re: Looks bad for Wikipedia

I don't think you entirely listened to what tony72 said. It wasn't about equivalence at all - it was about the consistency of Wikipedia's judgement on reliability of sources. Which, particularly on marginal topics where there isn't much freely available sourcing, is basically arbitrary, as one or two people end up declaring for transparently ideological reasons that a minor academic source isn't reliable enough for inclusion, but some arsewipe's hatefilled hatchetjob opinion piece in a backwater press organ is.

Co-op Bank up for sale while customers still feel effects of its creaking IT


Oh dear

I've been with Smile for 15 years. I've used nearly every online banking interface going, and most were (as of last year) better than Smile. Then they changed the systems, to something that looks like a student project for a mobile app; it's just appalling on desktop.

I'm loathe to give up on it, and I have so many current accounts I have to pause to count them... but I increasingly sigh when I have to log on to that account.


TSB interest

TSB interest is no longer 5% unless you're a student - it's 3%, and only up to £1500.


Brave VMs to destroy themselves, any malware they find on HP's new laptop



In what way is that different from Sandboxie? (Other than that it's pre-installed and only works in Chrome and IE...)


Will Wikipedia honour Jimbo's promise to STOP chugging?


Missing the story

***This article is a stub. You can help El Reg by expanding it.***


"*Money raised under the pretext of keeping Wikipedia online was spent on: “Legal defense to preserve your right to access, share, and remix knowledge, including court battles won over Wikimedia content in Brazil, Germany, France, and India,” the Foundation says. "


Which seems a worthwhile and relevant cause, seeing as there's not much point in Wikipedia being online if access to it is limited. How much was spent on that legal defense anyway? And if keeping the site online is $3m and legal defense is similar spending, where's the rest of it going?? The link implies coding and user research - is that really true?

UK.gov is doing sod all to break £20bn of locked-in IT contracts


Re: Is it really ludicrously high?

"Those figures are skewed by social protection and health. Two things that don't have to be provided for by a company. Take them out and re do the figures."

Oh well, if a private company doesn't need to do it, clearly it doesn't need any IT to run it when government does it... You'd be on stronger ground taking your first point in a "the comparison doesn't make much sense" direction.

My God, I've got nothing on! Microsoft's $200m Wunderlist is down



I must admit to keeping a contact list on Wunderlist, and one of my contacts is named Bobby; Drop Tables.

You call it 'hacking.' I call it 'investigation'


Re: Please keep your biometric nettles away from my arse

"It wouldn't be impossible to arrange that if you want to do something potentially risky - like change your address or transfer a large amount of money - that you have to visit a nominated machine and present your bank card. "

This - and a lot of other options besides. For high-risk actions, there should be at least the *option* of a higher security requirement - eg I'd be perfectly happy knowing that my bank address can only be changed face to face with a member of staff in a branch on presentation of photo ID, or that to send over £1k to a new recipient requires a trip to an ATM to confirm, where for others that's too much hassle or otherwise impractical. So set minimum standards, but allow customers to choose higher ones to protect themselves if they wish.

New UK trade deals would not compensate for loss of single market membership


Re: Er...

The UK's WTO membership is under the umbrella of the EU, and coming out from under it to be an independent WTO member isn't as easy as it sounds, because a lot of things are agreed with other WTO members at EU level and those will need renegotiating. For perspective: there are issues arising from the 2004 expansion of the EU which still haven't been resolved... 12 years later.


Not enough competition in payment processing tech, thunders regulator


What bank was that? Maybe they were only just getting started with FPS.


By 2040, computers will need more electricity than the world can generate


Re: How is it pronounced?

"No, it just means the end of the desktop pc ... You will still have something looking like a desktop, but it will be a terminal to act as the controlling node on your cluster."

- that's my thought process: computing power may move further towards servers providing services to well-connected clients; but that solves a different problem than the one at hand. In fact it only worsens the supposed electricity supply problem, by making the size/heating issues easier to solve, if much of it is relocated to large silos (i.e. server farms) in the middle of nowhere instead of in offices, homes, and especially in people's pockets/on wrists. Those silos will be less restricted in how their electricity demand goes up because they can throw more energy and space at solving overheating issues.

Tech firms reel from Leave's Brexit win


Re: Really?

"I remember reading in 1992 that the UK was "doomed! doomed I say!" for not getting the Euro."

Well if you do, it's a false memory.

Kremlin wants to shoot the Messenger, and WhatsApp to boot


Excellent news

This is excellent news: campaigners against this sort of nonsense can now say "this is the sort of thing they do in RUSSIA"! Which is a lot easier to understand for the average non-techy.

State should run power firm spam database, says... competition watchdog



No. Not just because it's a horrendous idea, but for the precedent it sets.

10 years hence, I'll be getting calls from India "Sir, for the last three weeks straight you've been buying Cathedral City cheddar, and we see you're in the cheese aisle right now. I can send a code for 25% off Anchor cheese to your phone right now.... No? OK, that's fine, but you're going on the Database of Recalcitrant Cheese Non-switchers. Which will lead to more phone calls. Just trying to help! Please listen to this message from the Competition Commission."

Jeremy Corbyn: My part in his glorious socialist triumph


Title error

"Jeremy Corbyn: My use of his triumph for shameless self-promotion disguised as weak satire."


Govt control? Hah! It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a successful command economy



"Multiple companies operating in the mobile phone market are reasonable evidence that they're not a monopoly, natural or not."

At which point anyone with any actual economics training gave up reading.

Forget tax bills, here's how Google is really taking us all for a ride


Other internet packages are available

Today, a working-class retiree on the state pension who exchanges a few JPEGs with her family pays the same for internet access every month as a banker in a Docklands apartment who downloads 24x7. Quite what is fair about that escapes me - although obviously the banker can be expected to be happier with the arrangement.

The retiree, if paying the same as the banker, is on the wrong internet package.

Orange customer clobbered with SIX-FIGURE phone bill


Re: That could have been me....

Avast (or other) firewall does the job for me.



The "Prime Minister's Salary" is a popular economic unit in some circles. It's £142k at the moment, so the chap was charged 1.15 Prime Minister's Salaries, or 1.15 PMS (the abbreviation is a bonus).

25% of Groupon share value WIPED OUT after rates slashed


Re: Bet you wish

No, I don't know how the box was ticked the first time...


"What is this, the Daily Mail?" - no edit button. Cool.

Google 'Instant Previews' hit Google Analytics with fake traffic



This nonsense has actually caused me to switch my default search engine to Yahoo. It's not as good, and I find myself more often trying to remember a site address than take it for granted that my search phrase will find it, but I can always go to Google if I actually need it.

Win 7 RC fails to thwart well-known hacker risk


Why allow double extensions at all?

I agree with Trevor - I don't see why Microsoft hasn't fixed this years ago by patching to deal explicitly with double file extensions. The exact form of that is another matter (maybe pop up a dialog for those cases when double-clicked, with the non-executable filetype as the default?), but it should be quite separate from showing those file extensions. In a file system assigning file types based on extensions, a file should only have one extension and when there's more than one that should be acknowledged as a problem! End of story.

Google jacks up fees for Checkout service


Foot, meet gun

Hiking price rates, I get - they were low before. Maybe the hike's too much (given the lower level of service compared to real payment processors), maybe not. What I do *not* get is cutting the AdWords link. On the one hand, yes, this was an effective cross-subsidy from Checkout to AdWords; but I have no doubt it did encourage use of the former and spending on the latter. If it now seems the cross-subsidy is too much, I would have thought it would make more sense to tweak or limit it than abolish it in one fell swoop - for publicity reasons if nothing else. Finally, why cut the link at the same time as the price hikes? This way they won't be able to distinguish the impact of the two moves. Google losing the money-making plot? I suppose probably not.... they probably know what they're doing...

Climate Bill scores a fail in economics



no, Richard Johnson is right, because the level of reduction in CO2 required is so large (check out George Monbiot on the largeness of the cut and on what's required to achieve it, eg in his book Heat). We're not talking about a marginal change, where a few people can change behaviour because they're close to indifferent between options anyway, and a small tax can push them the right way. We're talking about changing nearly everyone's behaviour in many respects, often dramatically. (a) this can't be done without govt coordination (public services, long-term planning, other compensations for market failure) and (b) to the extent that market pricing is used to change behaviour, it's either got to be very specific to different situations/contexts, or at a general level massively high, to ensure changed behaviour from nearly everyone (what sort of tax do you need to make a millionaire stop using his private jet - that sort of question).

Miscreants hijacking machines via (freshly patched) Adobe flaw



I switched to foxit a year ago, some time after I started trying to strip the crap out of Acrobat Reader (Acrobat Reader Lite or something modifies the Reader), then came across Foxit. Funnily enough, Foxit is Acrobat Reader's FireFox. Cunning foxes, eh?

How the fate of the US economy rests on a Dell workstation



Yes, let's calculate exactly how fast we're going to hell in a handcart....

Except that (mainstream) economics is (extremely bad) psychology with physics envy. A supercomputer can't overcome the GIGO rule!

Defrauded punter says 'catflaps' to PayPal marketing stunt



Well if you're doing a site, there's Google Checkout, which seems pretty good (though I've not used it long enough to say how they might deal with fraud). For ebay, cash on collection can be an option, if the item isn't very rare. I've used online bank transfer too. And always recorded delivery (it's only 68p more)!

Google News farce triggers Wall Street sell-off


@ AC

"I think you'll notice that all the cabinet posts consist of people that were voted for, and elected. " Elected in their constituency as MP, yes - as minister, they're appointed. In any case, it only happens to be true of the cabinet at the moment - (unelected) Lords and Baronesses can be and have been appointed cabinet ministers, and currently a number of non-cabinet ministers are. http://www.prime-minister.gov.uk/output/Page2988.asp

3,400 votes vanish from Florida election


@ Alan W. Rateliff, II

Diebold is now "Premier Election Solutions". Sequoia and ES&S are the other big two voting machine companies. (All pretty much as bad as each other...)

eBayer slaps $714 price tag on $630 in cash


paypal alternative

Google Checkout seems a good alternative for sellers who have the choice.

I don't know if QXL were really profitable, but at any rate as of May they no longer operate in the UK.


I never liked any of the ebay alternatives anyway for selling my old tat (never had any problems with ebay myself, but the mounting horror stories have just about put me off), might give oodle a go though.

Blu-ray 0, SDHC card 1, THX Chief Scientist predicts



"In the future I want to be able to carry four to five movies around with me in a wallet" ... on a flashcard...


Ohio voting machines confiscated in criminal investigation



People suggesting how to secure electronic are missing the point. The only convincing reason to go electronic in the first place is to enable fraud.

California to snatch control of citizens' air-con


Just chill

If you bother to read the relevant part of the proposed standards (Section 112(c), pp63-4 in the PDF linked in the article), it's clear that under normal circumstances signals sent to thermostats are price signals only, and whilst there is mandated default behaviour about how to respond, the user can override that. This story has been elsewhere, and as a small step in fighting climate change (making users more aware of energy prices) is a good thing.

The problem is with the "emergency" part - which basically gives temperature control to the signal emitter: intended to be the electric utility (if they add in a module to the mandated expansion port), otherwise the state of California. Problem A: hacking; problem B: if "emergency" is defined in the doc, I can't find it. Is there some technical criterion relating to electric system reliability (hopefully), or is it basically up to the CEO? Problem C: the existence of the system changes the economics of investing in more generating plant: brownouts/blackouts are bad for reputation, but with the emergency system, they can be avoided, so the utility's likely to invest less. (That's not necessarily wrong - but the savings will probably go mainly to shareholders.)

My 2 pence: Dialling everyone's AC down a couple of degrees to prevent the electric system falling over in a well-defined emergency situation seems like a good thing - perhaps along with a message "please don't turn back up during this emergency unless you really really need to". Preventing user override, though, (a) makes a hacking via emergency system a real threat, as opposed to minor inconvenience (b) potential problems for the vulnerable (c) legal problems. Good luck with that...

PS No-one seems to have made the obvious comment that the Governor of California is proposing to have the power to Terminate everyone's AC system...

Government piles filesharing pressure on UK ISPs



As I understand it, the legislation is about allowing the record companies to finger internet users, and be able to legally force ISPs to ban the internet users based on company evidence alone (presumably on the basis that the user has breached the ISP terms). Whether users could migrate would depend on the law - would the banning ISP have to provide a MAC code, and would they (or the record companies) be allowed to share info on banned users (would raise legal issues if not covered explicitly in the law).

Problem1: identifying copyright violation (especially if encryption is used)

Problem2: linking violation with an ISP account (dynamic IP, wifi stealing, etc)

Problem3: linking violation with a person (teenage son downloads something, dad loses home business?)

Problem4: proving intentionality (trojans, downloading wrong thing, etc)

All of these are non-trivial (except possibly the last one - you can probably legislate it away by declaring it doesn't need to be proved). They'll probably pass the law anyway. Question is, what will they do if/when the first case of mistaken ban is publicised?

Incidentally, aren't there perhaps Data Protection issues over record companies accessing P2P data?