* Posts by Bernard

223 publicly visible posts • joined 11 Mar 2008


Two arrested in massive $575m cryptocurrency 'Ponzi scheme'


This feels like a ‘medium sized crypto Ponzi scheme’.

Bigger than some but much smaller than FTX etc.

Goodbye, humans: Call centers 'could save $80b' switching to AI


But will the chatbots be smart enough

to know if the customer they are talking to is human or AI?

Reserve Bank of India warns against Big Tech's potential to dominate financial services


Re: You do know it isn’t the Royal Bank of India, right?

It’s not a typo, though I agree that ‘off the rails’ is a bit much.

The assumption that the R in RBI is the same as the R in RBS feels like a very western mistake when dealing with a country that used to be part of the British empire but now isn’t. I’m sure it wasn’t conscious but it still feels like a little bit more than a typo (but not, to your point, ‘off the rails’).


Re: You do know it isn’t the Royal Bank of India, right?

You missed the first iteration of the article. ‘Royal’ was in the title and in that first sentence.

Latest on iCloud storage 'outsourcing' lawsuit against Apple: Damages class certified


I’m all for holding the tech giants accountable for their crap

but this lawsuit is ludicrous.

They bought a service from Apple and Apple is providing it.

Unless some key detail is missing here then the plaintiffs suffered zero harm as a result of the end location of the data and Apple made no commitment that the data hosting would be done in an Apple datacentre.

Rude awakening for SaaS giants Salesforce, Workday as both find 20% growth isn't good enough for market


Re: Once upon a time..

Why do you think this disproves that?

Salesforce has been priced for dramatic growth for years because it has demonstrated that it can deliver it. Now that the growth looks to be trending down towards ‘upper end of normal’ territory investors are amending their future expectations accordingly.

That’s exactly how stock markets are supposed to work. They sometimes throw off some batshit outcomes due to collective investor madness (Snowflake being the latest) but Salesforce’s stock price levelling off as its growth does is predictable and sensible.

Microsoft tells Biden administration to adopt Australia’s pay-for-news plan


Yes, was this a mistake or is the writer a QAnoner?

Accounting expert told judge Autonomy was wrong not to disclose hardware sales


Re: Auditors....

That’s true in the case of clear fraud, which is why so much effort is being spent by both sides to position that this either is or isn’t within the acceptable bounds of accounting.

If it is, even if it’s teetering on the margin, then caveat emptor applies and this is why due diligence exists.

If it’s deemed to be actual fraudulent accounting then HP’s case has merit, although even then the judge may decide that the material impact of the fraud doesn’t justify the size of HP’s suit and cut down the penalty.

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia accused of hacking Jeff Bezos' phone with malware-laden WhatsApp message


Re: Bezos should have been more careful...

Bezos is one of a handful of people for whom an out of the blue offer of $30m might mathematically not be worth his time even if it were legit.

Google and IBM square off in Schrodinger’s catfight over quantum supremacy


Re: Conventional supercomputer?

The article covers this nicely.

Google’s ability to do anything with a quantum computer is impressive but the achievement itself is so specific as to be practically useless, while IBM demonstrated the flexibility of monstrous conventional computing power by undertaking a task not of their choosing.

If the IBM machine set a challenge and the Google machine stepped up we’d be in a whole different discussion.

ICANN demands transparency from others over .org deal. As for itself… well, not so much



But the plans were on display…”

“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

“That’s the display department.”

“With a flashlight.”

“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”

“So had the stairs.”

“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.

Internet world despairs as non-profit .org sold for $$$$ to private equity firm, price caps axed


Much more important than the question of who the buyer is

Is the question of who profited from the sale.

The fact that it's worth buying means that more revenue can be squeezed from it. Private equity motives are transparent and, for better or worse, part of the free market economy.

The private sale of assets which have presented themselves as public or quasi-public is a very different thing. It's what enriched the Russian oligarchs and the relations of corrupt regimes the world over.

If the proceeds go into some other not-for-profit research and development to further the goals the .org org started, then there may be an argument to be had.

Assuming private citizens pocketed the profits of a public sale, they should be hunted down and investigated for corruption.

Ex-Mozilla CTO: US border cops demanded I unlock my phone, laptop at SF airport – and I'm an American citizen


Re: Don't travel to the US.

‘If I've done nothing wrong, why am I afraid?‘

Because you make life a little more difficult for the people who want to do things that are wrong and they have the tools to make you afraid.

DXC axes Americas boss amid latest deck chair musical


You might be surprised.

Taking the salary is a doddle.

Concocting and parroting the management drivel that failing giants pump out to mask the decline is hard on the soul, and it takes a certain kind of political resilience.

It’s a travesty that those skills are paid so well given they have no economic value but don’t underestimate how individually taxing they are.

US cities react in fury to FCC's $2bn break for 5G telcos: We'll be picking up the tab, say officials


Re: Actually in USA you pay more than in other countries...

It’s worth noting that this isn’t ‘unregulated capitalism’.

It’s fairly specifically a regulated industry getting a better deal than the free market would offer, presumably because of money going into offshore bank accounts.

Unregulated capitalism doesn’t lead to desirable outcomes, but nor does any system of regulation which is not properly constructed and overseen. This stuff isn’t easy to fix.

Whoa, AWS, don't slip off your cloudy perch. Google and Microsoft are coming up to help


Re: Just one 'winner'?

The bit you’re missing is that cloud isn’t a services play (high touch, bespoke contracts, personal relationships) which lends itself to market fragmentation.

It’s a software platform play. Massive scale is required to compete on feature growth and feature growth is a big part of what locks customers in.

SME cloud players have died or are spreading themselves as fast as possible into service companies managing the big cloud platforms.

Telcos have given up on their own clouds and are focussing on becoming the network provider of choice for integrating cloud into your corporate network.

A host of big tech players have given up trying to run a public cloud or are on the verge of. HP and Fujitsu the latest 2.

Microsoft and Google are investing billions to win mindshare and feature roadmap over AWS who are printing money but still plowing lots back in.

IBM and Oracle are struggling to keep up, but still trying to because they know their software business is at serious risk if they lose control of the platform discussion.

5 or 6 players is no more stable for cloud than it is for social media. Big business will likely sustain 3 to avoid getting locked in 1980s IBM style.

DEF CON plans to show US election hacking is so easy kids can do it


The Republicans are essentially being asked to vote to close off their current advantage.

Fat chance.

They will want better security as soon as the Chinese rig the election to make them lose and stave off a trade war.

At that point the Democrats will be strangely less concerned about the whole issue.

And so it goes on.

We just love small firms, screams UK.gov after palming AWS UK £4.1m


SMEs = ‘Small and medium enterprises’

A startup with a few employees is ‘small’.

A company with 250 employees is ‘medium’.

What’s the problem with their definition?

'My dream job at Oracle left me homeless!' – A techie's relocation horror tale


This is a useful cautionary tale, but I'm always amazed by how uncommon common sense and curiosity are.

My checklist before going on holiday for a week seems to be more detailled than Bernd's checklist before moving country for a permanent new job.

1) Do I know anyone I trust personally who can talk me through what happens when I arrive in Amsterdam? Ideally can they put me up for a few days?

2) Is there an ex-pat group online? Is my country well represented there? Are they active and able to support me with information?

3) Where am I staying. How long for?

4) How much money do I need? Do I have it? Can the relocation company help?

5) How does emergency medical care work? (especially if I have a fricking condition that needs to be managed!).

6) What are my work obligations for the first weeks while I'm settling in? How do I balance those with getting set up? Is my boss onboard?

It's not rocket science, is it?

Meet DDoSaaS: Distributed Denial of Service-as-a-Service


If the retail arm offer DDoSaaS

doesn't it then follow that the wholesale arm are offering DDoSaaSaaS?

West country cops ponder appearance of 40 dead pigeons on A35


to afflict Albion?

Array with it: What's next for enterprise storage?


Typically what happens next is that one or several historically wholesale array builders will step out from behind the scenes and corner the market by doing commodity work more cheaply than the established players.

They're probably from China and they've probably been building white label gear in increasing volume for years.

When the value of innovation diminishes in a mature market western firms lose their hold on the market very rapidly.

So Pure Storage did its IPO thing and investors blinked – now what?


Given that Donuts are in fierce competition with XYZ for the top level domain market I think your assessment is right.

So Quantitative Easing in the eurozone is working, then?



Two hypotheticals I'm keen for your take on.

1) Now it looks clear that essentially negative interest rates are a policy lever for governments to use do you think it's a sustainable long term option for them? Eg could we see a situation where zero interest rate plus varying degrees of QE become the norm to deal with the business cycle?

2) if my simplification that QE essentially amounts to a negative interest rate is accurate has anyone done any work to determine what volume of printing correlates with a half point rate reduction?

Brit hydro fuel cell maker: our tech charges iPhone 6 for a week



I assume they've planned for this, but I still wouldn't want to be on a flight with one.

Would YOU make 400 people homeless for an extra $16m? Decision time in Silicon Valley


I don't trust the county to stick to the bargain for more than a few months before quietly hawking it around to friends and family of local officials.

I could tolerate a $39m sale provided I got a cast-iron legal guarantee that in the event of it being flipped for a profit I got the original value plus interest and fees. Similarly, if it were hawked out to private developers at a rate lower than market value i'd retain first refusal on repurchase of the property.

The county would likely never agree to it, and so he'd be a fool to take their appeal to his ethics at face value.

Xiaomi's birthday present to itself: Flogging 2m phones in 12 hours


This might be a concern for Apple several steps down the road but it really isn't now.

There's an enormous market in the developing world for smart looking but low cost smartphones among people who can't afford to spend one or sometimes several months' salary on the best. Status is even more important in these markets than the west and so people who can afford the best without much trouble tend to buy it even if they don't really need it.. That suits Apple nicely and, here in India, they remain firmly unthreatened by the wave of low cost smart phones.

For Samsung, HTC etc. this is a much bigger threat. Ironically it's their range of choices and price ranges that actually disadvantage them here because where Apple marks you out as exclusive Samsung may not and so doesn't have the same cache.

It's absurd, but luxury branding always is.

Revealed: Facebook Boss Zuckerberg's One Weird Trick When Hiring


That more or less reinforces his point, actually.

Whether you put Zuckerberg's success down mostly to luck or mostly to judgement he's one of a number of kids who find themselves in a position of having a corporate giant to manage with no prior track record whatsoever.

In that highly irregular situation hiring leaders who he'd be happy to be working under in the more regular scenario that he'd left Harvard to get a job seems an eminently sensible acknowledgement both of his limitations and of the kind of company he wants to build.

It's long baffled me that Facebook is as valuable as it is, but I'm consistently impressed by the anecdotal evidence of Zuckerberg's nerve under pressure and decisionmaking. Almost all of us would have sold out the moment someone offered $7bn (if not $2bn, or the numerous multi-million dollar offers that must have come privately before that). He reminds me a fair bit of Bill Gates in that I find a lot to admire in how he's got to where he is even though I'm dismayed that his product is taking over the world.

'American soldiers, we are coming...' US CENTCOM military in Twitter hijack shame


'the military command's YouTube channel'

This sentence made my day. I can only imagine what kind of budget the world's biggest military machine allocate toward sharing cat videos.

Why has the Russian economy plunged SO SUDDENLY into the toilet?


Has Putin really cocked up in the macro scheme though?

He's certainly miscalculated on this issue, and it's interesting/scary to see what will happen if he's backed even further into a corner given that Russia has the world's most lopsided military power (woefully mismatched to the US in conventional capability but able to blow the world up several times over if really left with nothing to lose).

But on the bigger one this idea that Russia were ever going to work their way to a rebalanced and open modern economy looks implausible. Like the gulf states, venezuela and the many African nations who rely on primary resources for the lions share of GDP I just don't believe it's possible. Norway has done a fabulous job, but it was wealthy and pluralist before oil became a big factor in its economy.

For those that weren't democratic before commodities became more valuable than human labour to their economy the incentives facing politicians are just too lopsided. If a hypothetical Putin had worked hard and honestly to modernise Russia and properly distribute the proceeds of the oil, gas and minerals boom then he'd have been the subject of a coup by someone more like the actual Putin who used military and organised crime muscle to cut 99% of the population out of the money. Putin is at the top because he's unusually good at playing dictator, but that wouldn't give him freedom to screw over the narrow power base he sits on top of.

There's even a name for it, I think. The commodities trap? There are some economic reasons too (unstable economic environment due to wild swings in commodities prices make normal investment high risk) but the main problem is that when a country's wealth exists regardless of the population and not because of it there's absolutely no chance of the pluralist political environment needed to sustain a modern economy.

Bring back big gov, right? If only the economics, STUPID, could tell us more


Your explanation sounds highly plausible. To extend it, I don't know if technological change actually accelerated but it's certainly true that during war time and the military push beforehand the technological push is focused away from the economy (as are scientists and factories, while the general public at large aren't necessarily in the mood to spend their disposable income in new and exciting ways).

Taking all of the manhattan project scientists as a small but tremendously innovative group who contributed nothing to economic growth when they were solely focused on solving a highly classified problem but who came away from the war with reputations and expertise that had wide and immediate applicability and I'd expect an immediate effect on the economy.

Same for returning soldiers, factories retooled for civilian use and the enormous and rapid capitalization or recapitalization of countries on the friendly side of the allied cause and you'd have to see a sustained effect on growth.

Blackout Saturday: Oracle website DIES after mammoth US shopping binge


Holiday shoppers rushing to buy Exalogic boxes?

'tis the season...

Zuck on The Social Network: Nobody wants to watch my REAL life for 2 hrs straight


This isn't really news.

I believe Zuckerberg that lots of this was made up. Real life doesn't make a good movie and Sorkin loves making highly watchable but utterly implausible narratives.

I also believe that the reality includes some similarly sharp practices. Getting to the top takes a single-mindedness that sometimes screws people over and there are always losers both legitimate and sore in success stories of this scale.

That being said, whatever my impression of him and his product, I do admire his nerve. Turning down $12bn from Google must have been one of a large number of such offers at ever more eye-watering valuations. Almost all of us would have sold out sooner and for less and been delighted to be a millionaire/multi-millionaire/billionaire (delete depending on which offer you'd have taken) playboy without the stress of managing a dot-com bubble mega-brand.

The Great Smartphone Massacre: Android bloodbath gathers pace


I bought my dad a Moto G for Christmas to finally crack his smartphone phobia. It was something like £70 at the time (or maybe I used some vouchers to get it there, but definitely no more than £100).

Having used it I just don't see why 70% of the smartphone market would spend more. About 15-20% will want a camera that's better. Another 10-15% can't bear to be seen without a status symbol phone (I may be grossly underestimating on this one, of course...) and the rest will only spend more because it's rolled into a monthly fee they can afford and they remember back to when entry level smartphones really were clunky and lacking in important features.

Similarly, we've just got the wife an iPhone 5S and it's a nice phone but it's not as much better than a £70 phone as it was 3 years ago.

I think that will even get to be worrying for Apple in the medium term and in the short run Samsung must be petrified. Markets tend to commoditise when the cost of making new features exceeds the premium users are willing to pay for them and 'fitness' just doesn't look compelling enough at this point to drive innovation the way media streaming and cameras have been in prior iterations.

Facebook says vendor secrets forced it to homebrew switches


Agree, but if there's nothing they can buy in that works as necessary at this size then scale out and spin off could be the more likely option. It would make tech a revenue source and not just a cost centre.


Re: FB is in a position to build a homebrew switch

I'd say this kind of tech is sort of core for them in the sense that at this scale there isn't any service they can buy in that will do it better (granted that's not an orthodox definition, but I do think that tasks become non-core only when buying it in would work better than doing it yourself).

It could well be that if they get good at this stuff they think about spinning it off in an AWS way to other web scale brands. If they don't, their staff who perfect it will definitely leave and set themselves up to do this elsewhere.

China set to be buried under mountain of surplus robots, warns biz chap


'Your job is being outsourced to China...

but we'll need you to program your replacement first'.



Re: You make one one terrible mistake

Hmm, I'm certainly not claiming that human ingenuity is done or that everything is downhill from here. You're right that those sentiments are kind of a secular version of the 'end of the world is nigh' thinking and are consistently wrong.

However, another common error is to see short-term and narrow trends and project their general equivalent into the future at a similar rate. Lots of people thought that we'd be colonising mars by now and that the end of the Cold War meant a triumph of liberal democracy as well as the Dow 36000 and 'New economic paradigm' claims made during the first dot com bubble.

Similarly it's worth noting that the dramatic gains in food productivity haven't eliminated hunger but allowed the population to expand until a proportion of the much larger group are still living subsistence lifestyles or worse. The idea that human ingenuity will not only maintain current growth to support a population predicted to peak at 9 billion but also accelerate and even out the proceeds of that growth so that everyone is living a western lifestyle looks too much of a stretch to me.


They already do and have for years. By far the biggest growth market for western luxury brands is Asia and while the stuff mostly gets made there too the 'expertise' and whatever else it is that makes a bag or pair of shoes worth £10,000 flows back to the west.

Similarly architects, law firms and financial services outfits do tremendous business out there.

And on a more basic level consumer brands like Coke and Unilever as well as western music and films have been there for years.

Whether we'll ever get to Chinese NGOs fretting about the conditions in british sweatshops is another matter, but the times are certainly changing.

Piketty thinks the 1% should cough up 80%. Discuss


Re: National vs international

Are you sure? Turning wealth into power is harder than you think. Look at the oligarchs who have crossed Putin, for instance.

Granted wealth gives you a very comfortable life, but I see a history in which wealth follows power more than vice Versa, and being too rich while out of political favour is rarely comfortable.


National vs international

I, like lots of westerners, have a lot of sympathy for the moderate left ideal of a system of constrained capitalism with relatively modest wealth imbalances that Pinketty appears to stand for.

There are several practical problems though:

1) All but the widest-eyed idealists acknowledge that there aren't enough resources globally to give everyone a decent standard of living even if we could somehow come to a consensus that we should. Successful lefty economies (of which Scandinavia offers the last unequivocal examples standing) have small, homogenous and highly educated populations and ample natural resources and are very picky about who they let in. To my mind creating small pockets of utopia is no more moral in the wider scheme than the US attitude of letting lots of people in but not giving them much except the knowledge that others before them have carved out a good living eventually.

2) Economic power always follows real power. When wealth gets too concentrated in the hands of people without the real power to protect it either revolution or punitive taxation always changes things. Similarly, and less fortunately, when the value of labour that poor people have to offer diminishes in real terms it becomes politically untenable to have too generous a welfare state without seeing a long run economic decline that makes everyone worse off.

At the moment we're seeing the consequences of a change in the real value of labour (which, sadly, I think is permanent) and a disruption to national politics from internationalisation which is benefitting the rich and well advised and weighing upon the poor and ill-equipped in a way that isn't sustainable. That's pushing the equation so far against the poor (and pushing so many of the middle class into 'poor' territory) that radical nationalism is starting to look attractive to them again.

'Failure is not an option... Never give up.' Not in Silicon Valley, mate


Steve Jobs was different at that point

Once you've had a huge success (and Apple was a huge success, before becoming a hulking failure, before becoming a humongous success) you can have a number of modest failures before falling out of favour.

When you're starting out you need to show a much clearer record of achievement (or be a tremendous showman) or your first financial failure can kill you for VCs.

Google: 'EVERYTHING at Google runs in a container'


re: but I wonder to what extent it scales down to mere mortal level.

From Nate's analysis and the other shortcomings I've seen so far, all look to be current barriers rather than absolute ones.

Google, because of their scale, have built this and tweaked it to fit their requirement. Other hyperscale software will do likewise because custom work pays huge dividends for this size of organisations.

Smaller organisations will wait for the community and/or commercial vendors to build toolsets that solve problems like the inability to monitor and manage memory and quite probably the lack of hardware indepedence and then this should scale down nicely. I don't think it will replace virtualisation for requirements that interact heavily with the hardware stack or need high security or customisation, but there are lots of current needs for which whole virtual machines are unnecesary.

Plus it's been a while since the last 'next big thing', and this one at least looks to be interesting.

Amazon granted patent for taking photos against a white background – seriously


Re: Snap!

You're not thinking like a patent lawyer. Shame on you.

The crucial second part of your patent application is to say that while the setup you lay out is one way of acheiving a good picture this shouldn't preclude any other set of paramaters from being considered under the patent.

Now that we know you can open up the methodology as a catch-all variable it only seems logical to do the same with the idea itself.

'While this methodology (or any other) relates specifically to the taking of a good picture, it does not preclude the utilisation of these steps (or any other set of steps) in the furtherance of another goal. These other goals are also covered under this patent.'

Bingo, you've successfully patented everything.