* Posts by Wilco

140 publicly visible posts • joined 15 Jan 2008


Energy breakthrough needed to build AGI, says OpenAI boss Altman


Re: A modest proposal

Are you suggesting that we give the AIs access to high powered lasers and fusion reactors? Good idea, I mean, nothing could go wrong with that could it, if we discount the possibility of piles of human skulls crushed under the steel claws of relentless hunter-killer robots, obvs.

Red Hat bins Bugzilla for RHEL issue tracking, jumps on Jira


All software sucks

All software sucks. Jira sucks quite a lot, but I've been using it for so long I can work with it, and it's very configurable. Bugzilla is pretty simplistic - not sure I'd want to run a large, complex project using it.

Google rebrands 'android' as 'Android' to remove any doubt about its affiliations


Obligatory Bill Hicks: "If you work in marketing or advertising, do me a favour... Kill yourself"

Large language models' surprise emergent behavior written off as 'a mirage'


Re: Cold Fusion?

It's an interesting comparison, though as you demonstrate, misinformation still rules in the field of "cold fusion". Over the past 30+ years serious, courageous scientists ( plus some nutters, probably) have been quietly experimenting with and theorising about low energy nuclear reactions, to the point that it's now possible for to get US government funding for this research. For example last year ARPA announced $10m in funding of LENR research https://arpa-e.energy.gov/news-and-media/press-releases/us-department-energy-announces-10-million-study-low-energy-nuclear\.

Cold fusion / LENR is clearly a thing. Whether it can be made into a practical tool for energy generation is still up for debate, though I remain optimistic.

AI is definitely a thing too, but it's far more useful and widely accepted now than LENR is because private companies have spent billions on training their models over about 10 years. They could do that because AI doesn't apparently contravene any accepted scientific principles, and it seemed like a good thing on which to spend the rivers of cash that internet advertising generates. If billions had been spent on LENR research over the past 30 years we'd all be driving around in electric cars that never need charging by now. Sadly Pons and Fleischmann screwed up their announcement, and a pile on by scientists who made poor quality (and thus unsuccessful) attempts to replicate their results almost killed the field at birth.

I guess if some company announces that they have a sentient AI we might see something similar.

Meta CEO doesn't Zuck at Brazilian jiu-jitsu, apparently


Chuck Palahniuk much?

Fight^h^h^h^h^hFacebook club: at it's core is a satire about toxic masculinity from the point of view of a mentally ill man

You can cross 'Quantum computers to smash crypto' off your list of existential fears for 30 years


It's hard to make predictions, especially about the future

I think Shamir is being complacent. I suspect that the NSA, its Chinese equivalent and maybe even GCHQ already have quantum computers that they can use to break 2048 bit RSA if they really need to. They certainly won't be advertising this capability in academic journals if they have it. If they don't have it, they will within a few years.

A clear lesson from the history of technology is that once we know something is possible someone will build it, and it frequently takes a lot less time than you might think.

Microsoft's AI Bing also factually wrong, fabricated text during launch demo


Not really fixable

The G in GPT stands for "Generative". It generates new content, and so almost by definition it's not always going to be accurate. You might be able to fact check some aspects of the generated responses, but you can't fact check omissions.

James Webb Space Telescope suffers another hitch: Instrument down


3 Finger Salute

Have they tried turning it off and on again? It actually sounds like the sort of problem that could be fixed in the time-honoured way.

Of course U2 is one of Bill Gates' favorite bands



In 'merica, for some reason bands are regarded as singular, hence a Leftpondian can legitimately say "U2 is an overrated, rather boring band".

In Blighty bands are correctly regarded as plural, because they generally have more than one member. Thus a fine upstanding British organ such as El Reg should have headlined this piece "Of course U2 *are* one of Bill Gate's *favourite* bands". Standards must be maintained

BMW updates 90% of EVs sold in the US over power software bug


Re: Everybody loves the dinosaur...

"It is a mechanical car, that does car things, and does them well."

Up to a point. Even in the 1980s there was a fair bit of electronics in cars. It depends on the model, but many BMWs of the era would have an Bosch Motronic or Jetronic digital engine control units.

Certainly those were excellent cars, but the modern ones are more powerful, more comfortable, less polluting, safer and more reliable. And you can still have fun driving them.

KmsdBot botnet is down after operator sends typo in command


They don't like it up 'em

Mildly ironic, in that go has better support for fuzzing in its test framework than many languages. Still, eff the skiddies

Programming error created billion-dollar mistake that made the coder ... a hero?


No version control? No excuse

"Of course these were the days before strict version control" - really? SSCS was released in 1972. Even I'm not that old.

To build a better quantum computer, look into a black hole, says professor Brian Cox


Fermi Paradox and Drake Equation

One civilisation per galaxy is pretty pessimistic. The Drake equation is a somewhat reasonable method for estimating the number of civilisations in the galaxy right now. You can certainly get the Drake equation to produce N=1, but the easiest way to do that is to assume that the average lifetime of a communicating civilisation is only a few centuries.

Two very depressing reasons for this spring to mind - either mostly civilisations destroy themselves pretty quickly, or the galaxy is very dangerous place, and everyone is hiding.

Cops swoop after crooks use wireless keyfob hack to steal cars


Public Service

I imagine that the former Renault/Citroen/Peugeot owners were immensely grateful to the thieves for giving them the opportunity to purchase a proper car.

IBM updates desktop mainframe emulator


Everything about this is wrong

So many layers of wrongness.

Hardware vendor lock in, OS vendor lock in (yes I know you can run Linux on sytem/z, but what's the point?), dev tool vendor lock in, idiotic pricing model designed to discourage people from developing for this platform.

IBM is dead as Cleese's parrot - see https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/IBM/ibm/revenue - it's nailed to its perch with mainframe revenues. If they actually believed in their platform they'd make emulators free and encourage everyone to come play in their wonderful walled garden.

IT blamed after HR forgets to install sockets in new office


Evil HR Weasels

Good to see that the chief weasel got his comeuppance - that's a rare thing. Normally everyone else gets f!!!ed and HR carry on pretending to have a real job. Slimy bastards.

Amazon textbook rental service scammed for $1.5m


Re: Talsma would call Amazon's customer service department

You have a point - quite a boring and fiddly job, and well paid, but not fabulously so.

Of course they didn't make 1.5 million - that was the retail value of the books, not what they sold them for. I doubt they could sell their ill gotten gains at more than half price, so they perhaps made 750,000 USD.

If we guesstimate that it took 15 mins per book to order it, re-sell it and ship it, they would have had to spend 3500 hours buying and selling books.

Therefore their hourly rate for their criminal enterprise is ~ USD 215 per hour, or about GBP 155 per hour. Very nice - about GBP 300K per year as a full time job. Maybe the primary perp was smart enough to hire a minimum wage patsy or two for the grunt work, to increase his reward/effort ratio. Even so it doesn't seem enough to risk your liberty over, given the near certainty of being caught eventually.

Richard Branson uses two planes to make 170km round trip


Mealy-mouthed snark

Do you not want to go into space then?

Yes, Beardy didn't go very far into space. But he spent his own money doing it, and in a few years Virgin and Blue Origin and especially SpaceX will be going a lot further, and at a lot more affordable prices.

I want my science fiction future, and these three are the ones who are going to give it to me.

Tencent uses facial recognition to enforce China’s curfew on gaming kids


Nobody sane would describe China as a "nan(n)y state". It's a brutal, repressive dictatorship. It is similarly incoherent to equate a fundamentally illiberal idea like compulsory facial recognition with seemingly obvious idea that society as a whole has a shared responsibility for raising children.

Go to L: A man of the cloth faces keyboard conundrum


Re: Calling upon a higher power

So now we can add Agile software development to the long list of things that religious people don't seem to be able to properly grasp

Lotus Notes refuses to die, again, as HCL debuts Domino 12


Re: Domino

"... it worked like a dream" - for you, the IT support person, but not, I suspect for the poor souls who have to try and get some work done with Notes as an email client, or some half baked Notes forms thing that was hacked together by Brian in accounts, who left 3 years ago.

It was a bad idea in 1989, and it's a bad idea now. HCL and Notes - made for each other.

Blue Origin sets its price: $1.4m minimum for trip into space



The first commercial transatlantic flight was in 1939, between New York and Marseilles. Tickets were $375 one way, which on a relative per capita GDP basis is equivalent to ~$35,000 now.

Looking on Skyscanner, I can fly one way to New York from London in November this year for £116 / $162 (via Barcelona, but still a bargain).

(Yes it's bad for the planet - but technology, plus some government intervention will fix this in the medium term)

The point is that Bezos and Beardy and Musky are building an important element of the economy of the 2nd half of the 21st century, and complaints about the cost of a single flight, or the waste of resources, or even the environmental impact, are entirely beside the point. The money these new industries will generate is what is going to pay for the future.

39 Post Office convictions quashed after Fujitsu evidence about Horizon IT platform called into question


System Failure

As technology becomes a bigger and bigger part of all our lives, the legal system needs to gear up to deal with technology based cases - judges, lawyers, the CPS, the police, everyone.

I cannot understand how anyone was convicted on the premise that an IT system was infallible. There ain't no such animal, and it should have been easy to find qualified people to testify to this.

Clearly many people failed individually, and many behaved dishonestly and corruptly (but not the sub post masters). However the legal system as a whole failed. Nobody in the system saw the hundreds of prosecutions of previously upstanding citizens, and nobody challenged the nonsensical and self serving testimony of witnesses who said that Horizon always worked.

Lock up the post office execs who are responsible, but also set up legal infrastructure so that this sort of thing can never happen again

'There was no one driving that vehicle': Texas cops suspect Autopilot involved after two men killed in Tesla crash


Re: Musk has tweeted to say recovered logs

Oops - quite correct


Re: Musk has tweeted to say recovered logs

"the driver moved to the front passenger seat to escape the car"

The cops seem pretty sure that isn't what happened. I assume you are suggesting that the driver moved after the car had crashed? If so it will be pretty easy to determine which airbag his face smacked into.

"Both were killed when the car failed to negotiate what is a very slight bend and slammed into a tree"

This is very sad, but it seems unlikely that the autopilot was enabled if the the car was doing 90, and you don't claim it was. This is more an argument for not giving teenagers access to fast cars, irrespective of who manufactures them.

As a reminder, in 2019 there were 36,120 deaths on the road in the 'merica. (wikipedia). That is more than 100 every day. I don't have the data, but I'd bet that self driving technology was involved in a tiny percentage of those - because we sure hear a lot about every case when it is.

A floppy filled with software worth thousands of francs: Techie can't take it, customs won't keep it. What to do?


And now we get to enjoy the joys of French customs once again, thanks to Brexit! Well done tory geniuses.

Can you imagine Slack letting people DM strangers in another org? Think of the abuse. Oh wait, it did do that


Re: Never trusted slack, Never will.

It's not really something you need to trust. I find it useful for exchanging messages with my remote, distributed team. The information we exchange is mostly fairly ephemeral - review this PR, anyone know what X means. It's basically the equivalent of going and talking to someone when we were all sat in the same building.

There's nothing very confidential being exchanged, so I'm not sure what your concern is. If you are saying "anything in the cloud is a risk", then the question is, compared to what.

Compared to not having this type of comms at all, yes it's a greater risk, obvs

Compared to using something that you host yourself? Probably a lesser risk, unless you are spending an extraordinary amount of effort keeping whatever it is you are using protected and patched. If Slack gets compromised and significant data leaks, that's their business fscked. I therefore assume, perhaps naively, that they are putting significant resources into making sure that this doesn't happen. Maybe your organisation is really good at security, and so you can do a better job than Slack - but that's atypical

The classic hits keep coming from IBM: z/OS set for big update in September



People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like. But in 2021, why?

Ever wondered why that one weird file keeps being included? Super sleuth TypeScript 4.2 is here


Re: like constructing a crock of s--t atop a house of cards

Sadly I'd say it's a bug.

TypeScript is a nice language, and I've written a lot of it in the past few years. But most of its flaws are directly attributable to the fact that its syntactic sugar on top of JS, which is not a nice language at all.

BOFH: 7 jars of Marmite, a laptop and a good time


Does what it doesn't say on the tin

Every true Brit (and the BOFH) knows that marmite comes in jars, not tins. Subeditor appears not to.

Cloud Direct stung for £80k in constructive dismissal lawsuit after director's 'insincere' evidence to tribunal


It is every day. About 10% of claims are successful at the hearing. That was about 10,000 cases in 2019, or about 40 every day.

(see https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/tribunal-statistics-quarterly-july-to-september-2020)

Also about 20% are settled through ACAS arbitration, which counts as a score draw.

What this highlights is the massive scale of employers being total asshats

Looking for an IT person? Searching for a job? Sign up for free ads – or browse through these job openings


Sorry to hear that

I'm sorry that you've had such problems finding a job. If you are applying for jobs every day and not getting the interviews then there may be something in you CV that is putting off employers. I've reviewed hundreds of Java Developer CVs and some of the things that would cause me to reject a candidate include:

Not demonstrating that you have experience in the technolog(y/ies) I am looking for. Look at the ad and make sure that you CV shows how you used the things that I said were essential

Telling me about what the company or team you worked for did, not what you did. I need to know what you actually achieved and how you did it

Significant numbers of spelling and grammar errors (with leeway for non-native speakers) If you can't be bothered to carefully check your CV, you probably can't be bothered to check your code

Significant unexplained gaps in the CV. Were you in prison, or what?

Excessive length.

Best of luck with the search - don't give up!

European Commission redacts AstraZeneca vaccine contract – but forgets to wipe the bookmarks tab


Re: confidentiality clause

"Certainly not yet. 20k subjects on a test means that, for all the checks done, this is still a beta product that would not have been approved were it not an emergency situation"

Please stop spreading misinformation. 20,000 participants is a very large clinical trial, which you can easily check by searching pubmed for "phase III clinical trial vaccine".You won't find many trials with more participants

'Best tech employer of the year' threatened trainee with £15k penalty fee for quitting to look after his sick mum


Re: "top business and technology professionals"

I don't know anyone on that kind of multiple. Someone who can get a contract at £800/day (~ £190K/year) in a bank to do low latency fixed income development could easily a get a VP job at 100K + benefits at the same bank. It's similar at all levels.

Python swallows Java to become second-most popular programming language... according to this index


Re: Python is not turned for speed

yes Java is tuned for speed. The Java Virtual Machine has, over a couple of decades, been provided with a wide array of performance optimisations, including highly optimised low pause garbage collectors, JIT compilation and global code optimisation. Yes, you can construct microbenchmarks that show that C, C++ or Rust perform a bit better, but generally Java is a highly performant language because it runs on a highly efficient VM.

Python, whatever the benefits or shortcomings of the language and ecosystem, hasn't had the same level of investment, and won't perform as well.

Also, __init__() is a terrible name for a constructor - the whole "special method name" zoo __new__, __del__ etc are just unnecessary and ugly

And Whitespce. gack

Microsoft drives users to the Edge: Internet Explorer to redirect to Chromium-based browser in November


Re: Windows 7?

You are definitely not safe. You are using an unsupported browser on an unsupported operating system. You are setting yourself up for drive-by malware injection.

Microsoft wants to link satellites to Azure – but it should probably fix its cloud first: Cooling outage hits UK COVID-19 portal, other sites


Don't forget that It's your tax money that would have been paying (and paying a lot) for the extra resilience.

A company loses money if its website is down, because the business goes elsewhere. The government does not. You'll just have to pay your taxes/get divorced/apply for benefits another time.

Single-line software bug causes fledgling YAM cryptocurrency to implode just two days after launch


Re: Reminds me of an Animaniacs cartoon

I wonder which product? A rather pretty sports car would have been better value for the council than any number of Lotus Notes licences

Splunk sales ace wins sex discrimination case after new boss handed her key accounts to blokes deemed 'flight risks'


Evil HR scum get away scott free again

"The tribunal did not uphold Lee's claim that Splunk HR business partner Julie Ward had actively discriminated against her on the grounds of her sex, though Ward played a key role in the events leading to her resignation"

Another morally bankrupt HR department who either don't understand or don't care about right and wrong. And don't give a sh1t about the "resources" they are supposed to manage.

Steve Wozniak at 70: Here's to the bloke behind Apple who wasn't a complete... turtleneck


Re: One Hundred Times, Thank You, Woz!

Even Apple basic had a FOR loop:

10 FOR a = 1 TO 100

20 PRINT "Thank You, Woz!"

30 NEXT a


First rule of Ransomware Club is do not pay the ransom, but it looks like Carlson Wagonlit Travel didn't get the memo


Re: Crikey

>Yes, but they shouldn't be able to go after your backups if you've got them set up properly.

I don't know how that would work. If malware gets onto a backed up machine, it's probably going to lie doggo for a few weeks while it spreads across the network, and so it will be in multiple backups. It's possible that an alert, technically savvy person such as Hubert could spot something, but the backups are still going to include the malware.

The malware might encrypt the backups, though that is probably quite tricky because it would require compromising elements of the backup software.There is still quite a diversity of backup solutions available so this sounds quite hard.

Even if you backups are readable you've still got a big problem. Any largish business is going to have hundreds or thousands of machines and databases to wipe, rebuild and restore. And each of them will need to be forensically checked to ensure that it the backup hasn't restored malware. You might be able to get a few key systems up from backup fairly quickly, but your infrastructure is going to be in bits for weeks while you check every single object on your network with any kind of microprocessor to make sure that no nasties are lurking.

It's hard problem because no matter how carefully you run your infrastructure, it's nearly impossible to stop a really determined and technically skilled opponent from breaching your defences. The zero days can always get you.

E-scooter fanboy so hyped for Teesside to host UK's first trial


That does happen sometimes with the London rental bikes - docking bays in the city got very busy in the good old days..

However the app/website does tell you where free bays are (here https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/santander-cycles/find-a-docking-station) so you can plan ahead.

Things can't go on like this. You need to get fit for the sake of your health. I'm going to write you a prescription for... an e-bike


No point in giving people bikes if there's not much chance of them using them because they have dodgy knees or are unfit and overweight. Giving them ebikes is a very good idea, and probably relatively cheap compared to lengthy periods in hospital. Well done to Sheffield for trying something new

UK.gov dangles £100m for service slingers for back office 'transformation' that'll kill off bespoke systems


"And which software vendors will offer us the lowest upfront cost, followed by the highest annual renewal"

Attention! Very important science: Tapping a can of fizzy beer does... absolutely nothing



"Cans selected for abuse were shaken for two minutes"

There's your problem. Nothing on earth is going to help if you shake a can for 2 minutes. Tapping may help if you've dropped it, or it's been briefly agitated.

I would have said that this experiment was a waste of good beer, except that they used lager, (and Carlsberg at that), so this experiment actually slightly increased the global average beer goodness.

Visual Studio for Mac: A bunch of new features but Xcode and VS Code are tough competition


I imagine this will make the people who want to write mac apps in C# happy. Both of them.

The Wun Show: Douglas Crockford has been sniffing JavaScript's bad parts again



Transpilers should never be used in production? What a crock (ford)

Google engineering boss sues web giant over sex discrim: I was paid less than men, snubbed for promotion


Lying HR Weasels

To misquote Bill Hicks,

"If you work in HR, kill yourself"

The Central Telegraph Office was serving spam 67 years before vikings sang about it on telly


Re: Open House London

"If they opened on different days throughout the year, more people would be able to visit each place!"

I don't think that's true.

The number of people who could visit a building is unaffected by the number of other buildings that are open.

The number of people who want to visit a building is arguably increased by having a special open house weekend which is publicised https://openhouselondon.open-city.org.uk and which people plan to go to every year. I've been going for 20+ years and I've seen some fascinating places.

There once was a biz called Bitbucket, that told Mercurial to suck it. Now devs are dejected, their code soon ejected


Re: Atlassian!

Well kinda. You have to have design and architecture and requirements gathering and user research and UI design as well as tickets. And you have to organise the tickets into projects epics, sprints, stories and tasks. But ultimately it's all tickets.

I'm working on a large government programme with hundreds of developers and dozens of teams, all run on Azure, git, Jira and Confluence. And it's working really well.

Git can be a pain, and hg is probably better but anyone who thinks it's the worst software ever created hasn't used ClearCase or Lotus Notes (spot the connection)