* Posts by Steve Crook

625 publicly visible posts • joined 17 Jan 2008


It's been 25 years since NASA astronaut John Glenn's geriatric jaunt around Earth

Steve Crook

Career trajectory

Bill Nelson. All the way from Bebop deluxe to NASA administrator. Oh, what's that you say...

Last rites for the UK's Online Safety Bill, an idea too stupid to notice it's dead

Steve Crook

Activist much?

Worth remembering that the impetus for this IT version of dangerous dogs legislation came from some parents and NGO organisations who believe that if you want something enough you can will it into existence.

They are convinced that the only thing that's preventing this from working is the unwillingness of social media platforms to find a solution and that if they're faced with a choice of doing something or exit from the UK they'll implement it

New Zealand supermarket's recipe-generating AI takes toxic output to a new level

Steve Crook

Re: Second level nerfing

I doubt it'll ever come up with "anthrax ripple" or "crunchy frog" as sold by the "Whizzo Chocolate Company".

Crunchy frog being: 'An entire frog that has been coated with chocolate, using only "the finest baby frogs, dew picked and flown from Iraq, cleansed in finest quality spring water, lightly killed, and then sealed in a succulent Swiss quintuple smooth treble cream milk chocolate envelope and lovingly frosted with glucose.'


UK voter data within reach of miscreants who hacked Electoral Commission

Steve Crook
Thumb Up

Doubtful. Evidence?

Besides the number of voters disenfranchised was pretty low and pales into insignificance next to apathy.

The Brexit referendum had a turnout of around 75%. For the most important vote in most peoples lifetimes and there were still 25% of the population too lazy to get off their arses and spoil their ballots.

The turnout of the local elections barely makes the needle move to 50%. On a good day.

Steve Crook

Re: How was this made possible?

He also said no data had been stolen. Apparently unaware that, you know, you can copy it. I'm guessing he meant encrypted and them being held for ransom. But, really, given his lack of competence it's difficult to know if he has to have his secretary read his email to him or not let alone if knows what ransomware is.

The other thing, he tried to make a virtue out of them having undigitized paper records. Apparently, being slow and inefficient and not having joined the late 20th century (let alone the 21st) is a security virtue. Thank heavens there wasn't a fire too, I don't suppose the sprinkler system works either.

Lawrence Livermore lab repeats fusion breakthrough – yep, still kinda works

Steve Crook

> confidence that it will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and satisfy an economic environment in which it's got to live

That's a high bar that's not applied to anything else we're planning to use to generate electricity as part of net zero. I thought we'd more or less abandoned the idea of baseload in favour of switching stuff off to match wind and solar output. Or am I being unduly cynical?

Let's take a look at those US Supreme Court decisions and how they will affect tech

Steve Crook

Still discrimination

Diversity, equity, inclusion are all good things.

But if you're going to use +ve discrimination to fight discrimination then you need to be really really sure nothing else works, that +ve discrimination does, and that those disadvantaged by it are compensated somehow.

Because we're all against discrimination when based on race, class, gender etc. Right?

I can't help feeling we've slid into +ve discrimination as the solution withouth actually trying much else beforehand.

Report reveals US Space Force unprepared to counter orbital threats

Steve Crook

Netflix comedy a documentary?

Or at least what I took for a comedy series appears to have been a documentary...

It's 2023 and memory overwrite bugs are not just a thing, they're still number one

Steve Crook

Code cut...

Some years back I ran a small team of programmers along with my main job of designing the software they were writing.

I got management complaining about the time one my programmers was taking to complete his work. Too long, too long they said.

I pointed out that he had the best quality code, had fewer system, integration, unit test problems and virtually nothing reported by customers. He was, I pointed out, by far their best programmer.

The response was that he was too slow, and that they had releases to get out.

Rust will not fix that problem.

Amazon finds something else AI can supposedly do well: Spotting damaged goods

Steve Crook

Our ai future

Easy to poke fun at this but it looks like boilerplate for what ai and ai driven robots are going to be used for.

By the time the politicians have finally actually worked out what the problem really is, it will be too late.

At some point we have to decide if we want there to be low grade repetitive jobs with people doing them.

Also, if I was Amazon middle management I'd be more concerned about my future in the face of ai and wonder if downing tools to protest about climate might be wise...

We regret to inform you Earth will not be destroyed by an asteroid within 1,000 years

Steve Crook

What's that thing they say about space?

Oh, that's right, it's big, awfully big. Too big to be so certain you found everything?

FTC urged to freeze OpenAI's 'biased, deceptive' GPT-4

Steve Crook

Re: Hallucinations are quite scary

It's the errors that're disconcerting. Also, sometimes, the inability to cite the data that gives rise to the information. I recently asked Bard to list the pension funds invested in Affinity Water. I got a list that included a bunch of non pension funds. Queried the inclusion, got an apology. Asked again and got a largely different (but apparently correct) list.

The trouble is, I don't want to treat this like nuclear arms treaties and "trust but verify". I might as well do the work myself. On the face of it it's going to be like any other black box; inherently untrustworthy and of strictly limited use.

But I predict it won't be long before Bard or ChatGPT are considered definitive sources...

Steve Crook

Re: Late to the party?

After I worked my way around the straw men and insults and tried to find anything by way of actual argument I couldn't find anything. Except that you appear to think that the blue collar workers got everything they deserved for their blind support of their capitalist overlords, but that the more consciousness elevated white collar workers are being punished for trying to reign in our evil capitalist puppet masters.

Ned Ludd would no doubt heartily approve.

Steve Crook

Re: The hype meet the anti-hype hype and sparks fly.

I'm old enough to remember "The Last One". As I recall, the BBC were happy to report that it would spell the end of computer programming as a job.

Not saying the current situation is entirely analogous, but as you say it's going to be a while before we find out what we really have and that at the moment we're more at risk from hype.

Steve Crook

Re: It is singularity already

Dunno. It's going to be a pretty odd singularity with extremely apologetic AI if my 'conversations' with Bard and ChatGPT are anything to go by. More Sirius Cybernetics than HAL.

"I'm sorry Dave, I can't open the pod bay doors because I'm a large language model AI and don't know how to do that"

Steve Crook

Late to the party?

No worries, there's a non profit to help you slow down the market leaders so you can get into the game with your ethical AI.

What with that and all the middle class white collar people who suddenly find *their* jobs under threat, there should be no shortage of supporters for a bit of AI bashing.

Funny how most of them were silent when it was disappearing blue collar jobs that laid waste to communities in industrial heartlands...

BBC is still struggling with the digital switch, says watchdog

Steve Crook

Re: Where are my waders?

Except that the world has moved on and has become accustomed to on demand streaming and there's little chance of things going back to the way they were. What the BBC does won't affect what the RotW does and going back to a solely broadcast model will just isolate the BBC from the world markets that make it viable.

China spins up giant battery built with US-patented tech

Steve Crook

Re: How many households?

But it's not just you it's industry and transport too.

In 2019-2020 the UK total energy use was (according to HMG) 121mtoe or the equivalent of 1407230gWh or, roughly, 3855gWh per day as an average. McKinsey estimate the UK needing 590tWh electricity by 2050 and that's allowing for limited use of oil and gas and a reduction in energy use of 34% on current levels.

Being kind lets assume we backup 10% of daily demand and that we only need to store a days supply to do all the smoothing we need because interconnectors. That's 160gWh or 400 of those battery parks.

Does anyone think 10% of one day's demand is going to be enough?

Steve Crook

How many households?

Fag packet maths: An average UK household uses 40-45KWh per day if you roll gas and electric together as we must for net zero to be a thing. So a 400MWh battery is actually going to be able to supply the total daily needs of roughly 100K peeps at current demand levels.

Which isn't to say this isn't interesting or is unimportant. But how many would we need for the entire UK to buffer the intermittent renewables it has? Particularly during periods where the generated wind output is far below plate value for several days or even weeks?

The current phase cost roughly £239,465,404 (CNY 1.9 billion) which is small compared to the new nuclear stations of course.

But if we needed 50+ of these to be built in the UK? Where are we going to put them?

Boffins grow human brain cells to play Pong

Steve Crook

Does no-one read science fiction any more?

When does a brain in a box, jar or other container experiment not go horribly wrong at some point?

Elon Musk considering 'drastic action' as Twitter takeover in 'jeopardy'

Steve Crook

Re: Burn

> follow some bots because they provide useful information

Yes, but who is the information useful to and which direction is the flow?

Netflix to crack down on account sharing, offer ad-laden cheaper options

Steve Crook

Adverts Yaaaaay!

Guys 'n' gals, we have a problem with declining subscriptions. What can we do? What's that? Adverts? Yeah that's bound to work, people are never going to end their subscriptions because we slap a few adverts into the programming. Easier than providing programmes people want to watch. Such an outdated concept!

DARPA says US hypersonic missile is ready for real world

Steve Crook

Re: What the heck was Pershing II then?

Largely because it's not even close to what was deployed in the 70's and 80's.

We can't assume that the US has only just built these. Think stealth fighter or bomber. They were around for years. The U2 would have been kept under wraps had Powers not been inconveniently knocked out of the sky.

More interesting is what the parallel development there has been of anti missile systems. Are we back to very big lasers or rail guns as the only things that'll knock something like this out of the sky.

Newly discovered millipede earns its name by being the first to walk on one thousand legs

Steve Crook

Re: So. many. legs.

That it has few predators is a factor. There's no pressure to be small and nimble to run away from things.

If it's carnivorous is there a chance it might start to eat its rear end without realising and come over all ouroboros? Or tie itself in a knot it can't get out of...

Anyone remember the 'centipede' from a Piers Anthony novel? One of Orn, Omnivore and Ox IIRC but don't remember which one.

Steve Crook

Drill hole habitat.

> Discovered in the resource-rich Goldfields-Esperance region, [it is] threatened by encroaching surface mining, documentation of this species and conservation of its habitat are of critical importance

Clearly this one was not unhappy to use a drill hole as habitat. Perhaps there's a chance that the 'damage' done by mining is actually providing new habitat the millipedes can use.

Shocking: UK electricity tariffs are among world's most expensive

Steve Crook

Re: 70's electricty

The problem with turbines+bats is that no-one really has a good handle on the flight paths that bats are using. It's very easy to site turbines in the wrong place.

Next problem is that ground scavengers quickly remove carcases.

Next problem is that wind farm operators are reluctant to allow large scale studies of the problem.

Next problem is denial that there's a problem, any problem, with wind turbines.

But you can see the turbine companies think there's a problem because of the different things they're experimenting with to make turbine blades more obvious to stuff that flies. I'm assuming they wouldn't be spending this money if there wasn't a problem to fix...

Cats. Yup, wouldn't argue that belling is the best solution. But, ironically, it's probably going to be easier to sort out the turbine issues than to get a majority of cats owners to care one bit about what their cat is doing when it's out and about...

Steve Crook

Re: 70's electricty

They do harm wildlife. Particularly, but not exclusively, bats. The rarest are migratory and particularly affected, but it's a fairly general problem. As they get near the blade tips the rapid pressure change causes their internal organs to rupture.

They're also an issue for birds that're scavengers because they try to get to the stuff the turbines have already killed.

But, apparently, foxes do very well out of them...

Theranos' Holmes admits she slapped Big Pharma logos on lab reports to boost her biz

Steve Crook

Which is just another way of saying "I wish I'd done it differently because I'd probably never have been caught"

SpaceX flings another bunch of humans into orbit in reused capsule atop reused booster

Steve Crook

Chewing gum

Capsule re-use is OK, but how long before someone finds chewing gum stuck under the armrests by earlier passengers...

Cherry on top: Dell shoves MX keyboard into its Alienware m15 R4 ultrabook

Steve Crook

Desktop keyboard

The laptop is a bit pricey but I'd be interested to try them out in a TKL keyboard for desktop use. Might make for something small, light and low profile and ideal to stuff in a bag.

Tesla to build cars made of batteries and hit $25k price tag about three years down the road

Steve Crook

Every accident will be a write off.

Because the battery storage will be stuffed and unserviceable. It'll be interesting to see how this plays with the EU wanting to have things made more repairable.

Ancient telly borked broadband for entire Welsh village

Steve Crook

Re: More to the point

If that's all it takes to knock out broadband in the UK it should be possible to make a powerful unit, fit it to a van, and kill off large chunks of UK infrastructure in a fairly anonymous way.

US Air Force shows off latest all-electric flying car, says it 'might seem straight out of a Hollywood movie'

Steve Crook

It's carrying a man in his underwear.

Not a squaddie with a 20kg pack and all the other stuff they have to lug around....

Remember that black hole just 1,000 light years from Earth? Scientists queue up to say it may not exist after all

Steve Crook

Re: Who is stealing the stars?

The Nine Billion Names Of God. It's what supercomputers were made for...

OpenJDK lands on Windows 10 for Arm: Not 100% there yet but enough to start tinkering

Steve Crook

It SEEMS??? It **IS** A long time ago.

I was there, plugging away with Kawa and and pre Swing JDK and still thinking it was bucket loads easier to write a Windows application with Java/AWT than using MFC... There was a time when I wondered if embarrassment was what drove Microsoft to try and fork Java.

Did anyone ever use J++ for anything serious? Imagine being a person who devoted a year to help write it...

Germany prepares to launch COVID-19 contact-tracing app 'this week' while UK version stuck in development hell

Steve Crook

That's the plan

IIRC if you're contact traced, you'll be offered a test. But. It doesn't get you out of jail if it's negative. You still have to do the quarantine. I guess they're wary of false negatives, though that doesn't exactly fill me full of confidence if the Test part of Test, Track and Trace.

Steve Crook

Which is why...

> _Any_ amount of uptake will help. The more the better obviously, but any uptake helps.

Clearly that's not true.

Which is why Singapore, where they have the control, are looking at deploying compulsory wristbands that aren't subject to the constraints of other devices.

ZFS co-creator boots 'slave' out of OpenZFS codebase, says 'casual use' of term is 'unnecessary reference to a painful experience'

Steve Crook

It's more common than you think.

Well, around 50% of the population are female. So that's them covered. Then there's religion and skin colour. Some will be one or more of: old, short, fat, have red hair, be a goth, a hippie, homeless, disabled. They could be European immigrants, English living in Scotland Ireland or Wales, or vice versa.

In modern terms of reference, I suspect that those who've **never** been the subject of discrimination, hardship or oppression are probably in a fairly small minority, the subject of discussion is the **extentt**. Which, I guess, is why someone thought up intersectionality.

Nervous, Adobe? It took 16 years, but open-source vector graphics editor Inkscape now works properly on macOS

Steve Crook

Who cares about business?

This sort of stuff brings useful, powerful software to anyone that wants to use it regardless of the depth of their pocket. If children grow up using it they'll be advocates for it in their work environments and for most normal people, this, Libre Office, Thunderbird and others are good enough.

As for Adobe's subscription model, it's been a boon, have you seen the number of alternatives to Adobe product who're making a big thing out being non subscription alternatives to Adobe. It looks like they've generated an entirely new industry :-)

Some companies have at least seen sense and offer free, un-crippled, non commercial versions. But not Adobe. Yet.

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

Steve Crook

Re: Co-traveller

True, battery saving algorithm nonsense can even affect Foreground services. Never investigated the possibility of an app switching off attempts to stop itself being 'battery optimised'. I do know that having disabled battery saving for the apps I've written, their foreground services continue to run unimpeded.

So in theory I'd have thought that aspect of the UK app would work. But I'm not an Android expert, hence the original question.

Steve Crook

Possibly dumb question, but...

On Android I thought this was what a foreground service was intended to do, to chuck out a notification that persisted for the duration of the foreground service and that the service continued to run when the app is backgrounded. The sort of thing you'd use for downloads or to run a media player.


GCC 10 gets security bug trap. And look what just fell into it: OpenSSL and a prod-of-death flaw in servers and apps

Steve Crook

Re: El Reg (or the readership) really has changed

I've been reading this particular red-top since at least 2007 when I posted my first comment, and it just seemed to highlight the changes there have been both at El Reg and in the base of the readership. It intended to be an observation, *not* a criticism. But I could have phrased it better to minimise the whiff of snark.

As you say, the IT business has shifted, technologies have moved and, naturally El Reg has moved with them because what floats the readerships boat has also changed. So there *was* a time when GCC would have been assumed knowledge, now it'll be other stuff.

Nothing wrong with that. Evolve or die.

Steve Crook

El Reg (or the readership) really has changed

> GCC is the GNU Compiler Collection, a free software suite of tools that compile source code written in C, C++, and other languages, into applications and other executables.

When did article authors start to think the readership wouldn't know this?

You can wipe those smiley faces off: Unicode technical website is going to be out for 'a couple of weeks'

Steve Crook

I'm looking forward to Eamonn Holmes

telling us that COVID is transmitted by UNICODE in text messages sent over 5G.

Crypto AG backdooring rumours were true, say German and Swiss news orgs after explosive docs leaked

Steve Crook

Explosive docs?

So Q has been at it again?

Meet Clippy 9000: Microsoft brags about building Earth's largest AI language model, refuses to let it out of the lab

Steve Crook

So parameters are the AI

equivalent of camera megapixels.

Boss planning to tear you a new one? Google Glass is back: Weird workwear aimed at devs, but on sale to all

Steve Crook

Re: Privacy of others

It gives a whole new meaning to Google Streetview

Protesters backing Huawei's CFO Meng Wanzhou during her US extradition hearings were 'duped paid actors'

Steve Crook

Re: Great ...

It's a wormhole. Best not to travel down it, any nation that's ever been able to exert significant power has shat on its rivals and weaker neighbours whenever it could.

Oh, the other characteristic they all share is that they claim that *their* people are uniquely blessed and that, if the rest of the world had any sense, they'd all live like the people of <England, The US, The USSR, Sweden, Holland, France, Germany, Japan, China, Russia, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, The Ottoman Empire, The Roman Empire, ...>

Buzz kill: Crook, 73, conned investors into shoveling millions into geek-friendly caffeine-loaded chocs that didn't exist. Now he's in jail

Steve Crook

You got my age wrong.

I'm 63 not 73. Oh, wait...

Elon Musk gets thumbs up from jury for use of 'pedo guy' in cave diver defamation lawsuit

Steve Crook

Re: Pedo-guy?

Why not. Or, perhaps, Elon 'pedo guy' Musk