* Posts by Chris Miller

3553 publicly visible posts • joined 6 Apr 2007

Dublin debauchery derails Portal to NYC in six days flat

Chris Miller

An obvious part of the problem is that closing time in Dublin is leaving work time in NYC, and 'closing time' (OK we know they never sleep, there) in NYC is 4-5am in Dublin, when I imagine few people are watching.

Ransomware negotiator weighs in on the extortion payment debate with El Reg

Chris Miller

Re: It is better to avoid a problem than have to fix it.

There may well be some businesses and organisations that could or should operate in the way you suggest, but for most ordinary folks and non-safety-critical organisations, following all of your suggestions would mean going out of business (I'd except "don't hold personal data you don't need to hold" - but that's a standard part of most data protection legislation in any case).

China 'the most competitive market in the world' for the iPhone says Tim Cook

Chris Miller

Re: How Competitive?

The problem with Chinese smart phones in the West is (apart from concerns about quality and support) a worry that the CCP may be listening in. Not an issue in China, where you can be absolutely certain they'll be listening in!

San Francisco's light rail to upgrade from floppy disks

Chris Miller

Re: "best in the US"

Once safe, cheap commercial air travel was developed, rail became hopeless for journeys much longer than 500 miles. I've taken 1,500 mile rail journeys in the US (because I'm a rail nerd) - it takes 2 or 3 days and the only passengers are tourists and those who refuse to travel by air (mainly Amish and similar). Even taking European high-speed trains, I've done London-Lyon-Barcelona in a day, but it was a very long day (over 11 hours for an average speed of ~90 mph) - I could have flown to LA in the same time (and probably cheaper, too).

Big US cities (NY, Boston, Chicago, even LA to an extent) have extensive, cheap, well-used commuter rail systems, but inter-city distances are just too great, except for the Bos-Wash corridor.

Note to editors: BART isn't a "light rail" system by most definitions, it's too fast and too heavy. It's a pretty standard commuter rail network with a weird track gauge (for odd reasons known only to the locals).

Engine cover flies from Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 during takeoff

Chris Miller

Re: Is it Just Me??

Causing any damage? Of course, land as soon as practicable is absolutely the correct course of action, but the press vibes are that the aircraft was about to fall from the sky, which is nonsense. To purse my analogy, your wing mirror cover coming off **might** land under your tyre, and then cause a blowout and a crash, but that doesn't of itself mean it's a major incident.

Chris Miller

Re: Is it Just Me??

Indeed, and a relatively minor one at that, roughly equivalent to getting the back knocked off your car's wing mirror.

Nvidia: Why write code when you can string together a couple chat bots?

Chris Miller

Re: "It is very likely that you assemble a team of AI"


Chris Miller

Genius! I literally can't think of a single thing that might go wrong with this cunning plan.

Billions lost to fraud and error during UK's pandemic spending spree

Chris Miller

Re: Oops, we stole it

And what would have been your reaction (and that of the media) at the time, if the government had said: "Faced with a pandemic, we're procuring lots of PPE and other medical equipment, but we must go through all the necessary steps to prevent fraud, rigorous testing to ensure quality standards are met, getting three competitive tenders on each bid, validating DEI and anti-slavery policies of suppliers, etc, which will delay things by a few months."? Note that Starmer's Labour were supportive of all these purchases, except for demands for "harder and faster".

Work to resolve binary babble from Voyager 1 is ongoing

Chris Miller

"Lunchtime, doubly so."

Japanese government finally bids sayonara to the 3.5" floppy disk

Chris Miller

We put salt in our tea so you don't have to

Chris Miller

Exactly. The best way to improve a cuppa made with teabags is to pour it down the sink.

AIUI the original US thought was that, if you've 'stewed' your tea by leaving it too long (unlikely in the US, where I've never experienced water hotter than lukewarm), you can rescue it by adding a little salt to counteract the bitterness. But if I stew the tea, I just throw it away and make fresh, it's not as though a couple of teaspoons of tea will break the bank.

For the benefit of overseas readers - how to make a cuppa (it's not rocket science) - you will need:

A kettle; a teapot; some loose leaf tea (M&S Extra Strong for me); milk; cups or mugs for drinking from; sugar (no thanks, but optional).

1. Empty kettle and refill with sufficient fresh water to fill the teapot.

2. Bring to boil.

3. Fill the (empty) teapot.

4. Pour back into kettle and reboil.

5. Add a couple of teaspoons of tea to the teapot (mine's a 1l pot, if you're using a larger one scale up accordingly).

6. Pour on the **boiling** water, stir vigorously and leave for 6 minutes (timing can be adjusted for strength).

7. Add milk to the cups/mugs and pour through a strainer. Some will insist that milk must be added after the tea; I won't argue, but they're simply wrong :)

8. Enjoy!

The Post Office systems scandal demands a critical response

Chris Miller

Re: We need more articles like this one

Anyone involved in bidding for government work will know the answer - it involves long, complex RFIs demanding lots of meaningless tick-box qualifications, statements about DEI practices, etc. so that only large players can afford to bid, and smaller (often cheaper and more competent) organisations are effectively blocked. In the end, it's too often a choice between Fujitsu or Capita. And this applies far more widely than just IT projects.

US cities are going to struggle to green up their act by 2050

Chris Miller

Re: An "easy" fix

In southern US (and southern Europe), PV can be useful, because there are more sunny days and peak output coincides with peak demand (for aircon). At temperate latitudes (northern US and northern Europe), PV panels will struggle over their useful life to repay the energy consumed during their manufacture - which, given they're mostly made in China, using energy derived from burning coal, means they do very little to reduce global CO2 emissions; though they're great for subsidy harvesting, and transferring money from the relatively poor to the relatively wealthy.

HP customers claim firmware update rendered third-party ink verboten

Chris Miller

users can sometimes find themselves in the situation where supplies cost more than a replacement printer

True, and not unique to HP. But the cartridges in new printers are generally only half-full.

World's largest nuclear fusion reactor comes online in Japan

Chris Miller

Re: Hope this goes well

Just another 20 years to wait (the same timescale as in 1970).

HP printer software turns up uninvited on Windows systems

Chris Miller

I've been a fanboi of HP LaserJets for over 30 years, but Win11 tries to persuade you to install HP "Smart" (a PoS PitA) in order to get current drivers. Grrrrr

Greenpeace calls out tech giants for carbon footprint fumble

Chris Miller

Re: WTF????

How very dare people post opinions I disagree with. I demand my subscription back! Oh, ....

FTX crypto-villain Sam Bankman-Fried convicted on all charges

Chris Miller

One can feel some sympathy for individual investors taken in by this scammer. But large corporate investors? Was the "too good to be true", offshore-located multi-billion dollar scheme, run apparently on a spreadsheet not showing any red flags?

"Due diligence - we've heard of it!"

Mind you, I know of the CEO of a British insurer who bought a Spanish company from a guy he met in a bar there. Spoiler alert: it didn't end well.

Word turns 40: From 'new kid on the block' to 'I can't believe it's not bloatware'

Chris Miller

Re: first time I saw MS Windows

Word's competition was mainly word processing systems running on dedicated hardware. Wang was big (no sniggering at the back).

IBM flags up NorthPole chip to scale AI – though it's still far from shipping

Chris Miller

Transputer anyone? Anyone over 50, at least :)

Cisco warns of critical flaw in Emergency Responder code

Chris Miller

"released January, 2019"

Good grief! This would have been considered a fundamental flaw in 1989, but in 2019??

Doom developer John Carmack thinks artificial general intelligence is doable by 2030

Chris Miller

Those that look at LLMs like ChatGPT and decide AGI is 'only a few years away' are like a child that has seen a conjuror produce a coin from behind their ear and thinks they have found the solution to the national debt.

Local governments aren't businesses – so why are they force-fed business software?

Chris Miller

I'm no fan of Oracle, but I don't see why a council's needs for an ERP system differ hugely from those of a commercial enterprise. Brum's needs don't differ from those of a chain store more than those of a chain store differ from a construction contractor. Because accountancy rules are the same for all (debits still go in the column nearest the window).

Large commercial organisations are equally capable of screwing things up, but the difference is that when they do, heads (OK deputy heads) will roll. This never happens in government.

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

Chris Miller

Re: Users huh!

As the old saying goes: a skilful developer can build a system that's fool-proof; a highly skilled one can build a system that's idiot-proof; but nobody ever built a system that's cretin-proof.

Larry Ellison a major contributor to Blair Institute vaccine database plan

Chris Miller

Re: the B.Liar effect...

It's astonishing that two egos that size can exist on the same planet, let alone in the same room.

This AI is better than you at figuring out where a street pic was taken just by looking at it

Chris Miller

Re: Once again, powerful pattern matching being dressed up as "AI"

Google Lens does this pretty well.

Europe's largest city council runs parallel systems to cover Oracle rollout mess

Chris Miller

Gawd, I was wrestling with the problems created by beancounters trying to implement Oracle Financials 25 years ago - it sounds as though little has changed in the interim.

Texas judge demands lawyers declare AI-generated docs

Chris Miller

Re: AI Judges

That would depend on whether they were guilty or not.

ChatGPT can't pass these medical exams – yet

Chris Miller

If I were allowed unlimited time and free access to the Internet, I suspect I could pass this exam (or almost any written test), even though I know nothing about gastroenterology.

NASA's electric plane tech is coming in for a late, bumpy landing

Chris Miller

Re: Any scientists left at NASA?

Yes, I'm surprised so many Reg readers are fans of magical thinking rather than science. But then Greens and virtue signalling ...

Chris Miller

Re: Any scientists left at NASA?

And we're going to get people to build those plants how exactly?

When the lights go out, minds will change - and when the bills come in. Coming soon thanks to Nut Zero.

Chris Miller

Any scientists left at NASA?

You don't need more than a school level qualification in a STEM subject to work out that practical electrified aircraft (other than small puddle-jumpers) are an impossibility. OTOH we know how to make hydrocarbon fuel from water and CO2 - just add (lots of) energy, if only we had a worldwide system of nuclear plants to provide it. And there's already a worldwide distribution system for it and propulsion systems that can use it.

No more feature updates for Windows 10 – current version is final

Chris Miller

Re: Truly, certainly not

There are several small apps (some free) that will emulate the Win7 Start menu in Win10.

Pentagon super-leak suspect cuffed: 21-year-old Air National Guardsman

Chris Miller

IF (big 'if') these really are highly classified documents, one has to ask why such a junior person even had access to them. 9/11 led to accusations that the various elements of US intelligence operations failed to 'join the dots', and as a result many of the partitions between secure data were removed. This was one of the factors that allowed Manning (an equally junior operative) to access and copy so much classified information.

Investment bank forecasts LLMs could put 300 million jobs at risk

Chris Miller

There's no timescale given for this (put me down for the 12th of Never), but in a healthy, advanced economy ~10% of workers will change jobs every year (either voluntarily or not). So while 300 million sounds a lot, it ain't all that.

Turing Award goes to Robert Metcalfe, co-inventor of the Ethernet

Chris Miller

'Legend' is an over-used word, these days, but Bob definitely is one.

Humans strike back at Go-playing AI systems

Chris Miller

I think it was Gary Kasparov who observed that you need to relearn how to play against a computer. It's not like playing a strong human opponent, where you might be thinking something along the lines of "it looks like he's planning to strengthen his queen's side, so I'll attack on the king's side", the computer doesn't have a 'plan'.

It's been 230 years since British pirates robbed the US of the metric system

Chris Miller

At any French market, people cheerfully buy and sell vegetables and other produce in 'livres' (500g), ditto Germany and pfunde. And French TVs and monitors are sized in pouces (inches, literally 'a thumb'). You can buy a 5x10cm length of wood, but measure it carefully and you'll find it's a 2x4".

Bringing cakes into the office is killing your colleagues, says UK food watchdog boss

Chris Miller

It appears Susan Jebb watched an early episode of Brass Eye and concluded it must be a documentary.

Haiku beta 4: BeOS rebuild / almost ready for release / A thing of beauty

Chris Miller

Re: I wish them well

I remember J-LG showing it off at Demo96 in Indian Wells. BeOS was running multiple video windows on a Pentium 200MHz with 16MB (?) of memory. Very impressive, but (of course) there was no software for it.

TSMC said to be considering first European semiconductor plant

Chris Miller

Depends how big a bribe subsidy they're prepared to offer.

Massive energy storage system goes online in UK

Chris Miller

Re: Per home usage

Or, even less impressively, power the national grid (~40GW before all the new cars and heat pumps come on stream) for 18 seconds. My understanding (possibly out of date) is that the site is currently 98MWh, with capacity for expansion to 196MWh, so that would be just 9 seconds. Contrast that with the cold, still, dark period we experienced last February for two weeks.

Still, if we follow Hunt's suggestion and wear an extra jumper, I'm almost certain we'll be able to keep the lights on. Probably.

Chris Miller

Re: Peak power consumption

And that 's before all vehicles are electric and all heating provided by heat pumps (scheduled for the 12th of Never).

California wildfires hit CTRL+Z on 18 years of CO2e removal

Chris Miller

But all the carbon in the CO2 produced by wildfires, like the CO2 and CH4 emitted by domesticated livestock, must have been originally captured from the atmosphere by photosynthesising plants (part of the carbon cycle, which some of us learnt about in school geography, unless we were taking part in a klimastreik that day). It's not directly comparable to emissions from fossil fuels, which are what ultimately increases CO2 in the atmosphere.

Boeing to pay SEC $200m to settle charges it misled investors over 737 MAX safety

Chris Miller

Re: Outrageous

The article (and the fine) are about misleading investors, not corporate manslaughter. It certainly hasn't "all gone away".

Chris Miller

Re: "Reimbursing investors"

Such charges are not the responsibility of the SEC. How many people died in Tupolevs and Ilyushins, I wonder? Free market capitalism is the worst possible system, except for all the others.

AI detects 20,000 hidden taxable swimming pools in France, netting €10m

Chris Miller

Re: Chemicals & Services

French* workers (that includes local government officers) need to be 'bribed' if you want them to do any actual work. It doesn't have to be a brown envelope full of notes, a nice bottle or even a homemade cake will work wonders - you're apologising for the inconvenience you're putting them to. But Brits aren't aware of this culture, and get rotten service.

* applies equally to most of southern Europe.

Australian wasps threaten another passenger plane, with help from COVID-19

Chris Miller

If the aircraft is static on the ground, the correct reading will be zero. It's only when you're flying and it's still zero that you know there's a problem. Handling "unreliable airspeed indication" is pilot 101, unfortunately some Air France pilots seem to have missed that module.

Businesses should dump Windows for the Linux desktop

Chris Miller


OK, "Not within the lifetime of anyone now living." Will that do?