* Posts by Alfred

409 publicly visible posts • joined 23 Apr 2007


Take two cornerstones of British life, booze and queues, then squirt them with face scans: AI Bar



How about ten vending machines? That's a lot faster than one barman.

The great leveller: Nokia waves magic wand over unfair wage differences, and *poof* they're gone


Re: From afar

The evidence indicates that companies are no more the hypothetical perfectly economically-rational entity than individuals are.

Tech lobbyists turn on Trump over Mexican tariffs, then quickly try to smooth the waters


Re: Trump is right

I understand some evidence indicates that these immigrants you are speaking of, on the whole, are net contributors to US society. It's a contentious subject and the net economic effect is very difficult to judge.

Here's a page discussing various factors; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_impact_of_illegal_immigrants_in_the_United_States

So unless you've got anything more solid than simply asserting that they are a net cost to the US, it is clear that you literally don't know what you're talking about. I don't just meant that as an insult. You literally do not have the information and analysis necessary to make a good judgement here.

British Army cyber 'n' psyops unit 77 Brigade can't even brainwash civvies into helping it meet recruitment targets


Re: government spooks

The part-timers ARE the TA (or rather, the Army Reserve, Royal Navy Reserve, RAuxAF and any Royal Marine Reserve who feel the need), so they attract pay at the standard daily rate for their rank/rate.

So yes, they do.

Parents slapped with dress code after turning school grounds into a fashion crime scene


Re: "their freedom to wear whatever they want"

Well, at least by advertising it so publicly, everyone gets to know you're a dickhead. You can stand at the edge of school grounds asserting your magical independence to be a twat.

Accenture sued over website redesign so bad it Hertz: Car hire biz demands $32m+ for 'defective' cyber-revamp


Re: From the other side

Apropos of the general theme, my current employer and the one before last are fucking Vikings when it comes to fixing the spec on signing the contract and charging a fortune to change it. It works out better for everyone; people actually think about what they want before they agree to buy it, and it doesn't change unless it really, really needs to.

Agile, whatever it once was, has just become a way everyone involved avoids having to think about what it's actually meant to do. While it may well have started life as a defence against incompetent customers who don't know what they want and the incompetent sales people who sell them something without actually identifying what it is they want, it seems to have become a way to actually embrace that incompetency and let it flourish.

Easter is approaching – and British pr0n watchers still don't know how long before age-gates come into force


Re: how about a simpler system

"teens nowadays do these things like breathing"

A small number of them do. I find the majority of them are by no means the internet and technology savvy digital natives the media get so breathless about.

Brit boffins build 'quantum compass'... say goodbye to those old GPS gizmos, possibly


Re: It's not a compass.

"You need another bit of information, where you started from."

OMG, you've spotted the fatal flaw. Unless... unless... yes, it's just possible that someone could make a note of where they're starting from.

National Museum of Computing to hold live Enigma code-breaking demo with a Bombe


Evidence for Skilled Abacus Operator being faster than someone with a calculator

"does anyone have any evidence for or against the old claim that a skilled abacus operator can produce results faster than someone using a handheld calculator?"

I'm glad you specified "skilled abacus operator" rather than specifying operating on an actual abacus.

The very skilled abacus operators don't even the abacus; they begin with the physical abacus, but as they progress they use a model of one inside their head to do the calculation, instead of having to accept the delay of physically manipulating a real abacus.

Here's a skilled abacus operator (not using an actual abacus - that'd be too slow!) summing 10 four digit numbers in three seconds:


Here's a Guardian piece on the championships. 15 three digit numbers flashed up in 1.70 seconds , and the skilled abacus operator summed them.


Why aren't startups working? They're not great at creating jobs... or disrupting big biz


Re: What do you mean?

"Sexist Dinosaur plc,"

Nothing sexist about what you said. By all means, you have a tall blonde man as your personal assistant to look nice, sitting at your reception desk painting his nails and finding ways to show off his stocking-clad legs to your customers. Knock yourself out.

'Computer algo' blamed for 450k UK women failing to receive breast screening invite


Re: Emotional damage and stress to all involved.

"how were they to know the system was setup with 2 different search terms (old and new) and did not bring up a per word result (screening + cancer) but only brought up a single term result ("cancer screening" exactly)."

I can only speculate on how *they* could have known, but *I* would have known because the testing would have included identifying records (which could have been artificial test records, or anonymised real records, or perhaps just plain real records with suitable privacy precautions taken) containing one word, and both words, and no words, together and apart, testing search terms in all the various permutations, and the results compared with the expected output based on the identified test records.

Whether by design or process or procedure or incompetence, what on the face of it sounds like a relatively simple test to consider and execute wasn't done. This is incompetence; spread across which levels (project, programming, testing, management, requirements, etc etc), I couldn't speculate, but this is incompetence.

We 'could' send troubled Watchkeeper drones to war, insists UK minister


I was working for a company that got a piece of this in the early days, and that would have been around 2002. I suspect that in this case, the civil drone industry has come a very long way in the last 16 years; often, there's just no way to know in the early days of a programme that by the time it finishes, the civil industry would have produced a cheap alternative.


Re: So...

" couldn't give a hoot when they bugger off on flexi at 2pm on a Friday"

That said, I'm sure I recall the CO of Collingwood in Fareham having to direct the gate to not let any sailors out before at least midday on Friday, as it was getting silly.

Sysadmin tells user CSI-style password guessing never w– wait WTF?! It's 'PASSWORD1'!


Re: "They looked for the password on the CD . . ."

It does, but sometimes (maybe not in this case) there's no reason at all for the data to be password protected; there's simply a blanket demand that all data be password protected.

I sent someone a list of suppliers I'd cut and paste from the internet. Policy was that all data being sent out had to be password protected. Duly zipped it in a password protected zipfile, named "thePasswordIsBeans", with "password = beans" written on the CD.

Policy obeyed, data protected to the level required.

Argentina eyes up laser death cannon testbed warship


"Within 24h of any invasion threat, a crew could be flown in and have them operational."

That's not true, unless you're willing to pay maintenance crews permanently to keep the vessels in order, and crews paid permanently to stay in date on the vessels. At which point, you've basically just created full-time ships with full-time crews.


Re: .Sarcasm, I take it?

"I doubt the RN has the reliable operating capability now to defend the Falklands"

One Astute class submarine could destroy the dozen or so Argentinian warships capable of going to sea before they got there, without being seen.

Teen girl who texted boyfriend to kill himself guilty of manslaughter


Re: Stupid but?

" Should we go easy on ... pedophilia because of that?"

Pedophilia isn't a crime. Acting on it is.


Re: Not my kind of girl "friend".

I can see B.Bob actually doing things like this himself (maybe not this far, but certainly on this spectrum); his adherence to his doctrine and his need to push his agenda of victimhood into stories that have absolutely nothing to do with it make me think that he'd happily cause pain and suffering to individuals to advance his own social agenda. He strikes me as exactly the kind of "righteous" person who lets the ends justify the means.

UK PM Theresa May's response to terror attacks 'shortsighted'


There is no magic money tree

But there is, I am told, an Enchanted Brexit Fountain of Prosperity :)

Trump's immigration clampdown has Silicon Valley techies fearing for their house prices


Re: Well, first, the order has been rescinded by the courts...

The LEFTIES are having the LAW applied. If you don't like the rule of law, that's your preference, but don't twist the facts to enable your double-think.

Who do you want to be Who? VOTE for the BBC's next Time Lord


Re: Not that bothered..

"because the BBC went even further to the Left"

People with the other set of narrow-minded prejudices insist it's biased to the right. You, and others like you, just see what you want to see.

Britain collects new naval tanker a mere 18 months late


Re: What the hell

Money spend buying something from abroad, by the very definition of how international money works, will come back to the UK for spending. If it doesn't ever come back, we got them for free.

Why the UK is unlikely to get an adequacy determination post Brexit


Re: Who cares?

"it will make the UK safer"

Safer for whom? It will make the UK more dangerous for everyone whose details are collected and retained.

Chinese boffins: We're testing an 'impossible' EM Drive IN SPAAAACE


Re: Some people think it sounds crazy, some don't

"I prefer a world where we can all make jokes about each other without thin-skinned killjoys telling us we're bad to do so."

Good to know, you cock-gobbling child abuser.

China gives America its underwater drone back – with a warning


"Because, of course, the US Navy is conducting surveys into ocean currents and salinity. Yes, natural thing for the military to do, is that. Definitely. At this time of shallow budgets and cost-consciousness, naturally they're just putzing around near their biggest foe making sure the sea isn't too salty."

Well, yes, it is. Naval survey vessels do this sort of thing a lot. It's a pretty common activity. I accuse you of having very little context and basically of having no idea what you're talking about. You've latched on to a simple idea - why would they be doing this - and with zero knowledge spun yourself an empty conclusion.

"naturally they're just putzing around near their biggest foe making sure the sea isn't too salty."

Their biggest foe, The Philippines? You really do have no idea.


Already happens

It's already common for spy ships of various nations to hang around in the international waters off the coast of other nations. This already happens off the coast of the United States. What you wonder about already happens.

The response is typically what it has been for decades. Both sides know it's happening, they watch each other, they shadow each other's naval exercises. Everyone knows how it works and what the rules are so that everybody feels safe about what the other side is doing without causing any incidents.

Already happens regularly. What does not already happen regularly is stealing each other's bits of kit from international waters.

AI can now tell if you're a criminal or not


Inherently self-contradictory

A claim of "no biases whatsoever due to past experience" except that they made it work by feeding it a "A dataset of 1,856 facial profiles".

it has nothing BUT biases based on past experiences. That's how it works.

Brexit may not mean Brexit at all: UK.gov loses Article 50 lawsuit


Re: There's one bit of good news though

As I recall, to hold Irish citizenship on the basis of parentage, you don't always need to apply for it. You already have it. Applying for it just gives you a helpful piece of paper. For example, if either of your parents was an Irish citizen who was born in Ireland, then you are automatically an Irish citizen.

England expects... you to patch your apps and not just Windows


"Most people don't update or modify their computers..... might install bits of software, games and the like"

Bingo. If they didn't do that, their computers wouldn't have to be capable of it, and a PC that was intended to never change once it left the manufacturer would be enormously more reliable.

That's the constant modding that users do, and that's (and the fact that the PC has to be capable of being constantly modded in this fashion) what makes it not like a car. That users don't realise they're taking an enormously complex machine and constantly fiddling with it doesn't change the fact that they are.


"Most users just expect their PCs to work. They have no more wish to be IT specialist than they wish to get their hands dirty servicing their cars."

But, on the other hand, when they buy a car, that's it. They don't spend the next three years adding shonky modifications they found on the internet, and they don't expect it to do anything it didn't do straight out of the factory gates (those few people who DO mod their cars do so knowing that they're taking it outside the official specs and go into it eyes open).

People expect to be able to modify their PC on a daily basis to change what it can do for them. If people were willing to accept their PC as they accept their modern, reliable car (that is, as a fixed, sealed unit that, should they want it modified, will be taken back to the distributor to be done properly) and are willing to accept that they will not be changing its capabilities (i.e. the software on it when you get it is all there will ever be) then they could have their PC as reliable as their modern car.

Linux in 2016 catches up to Solaris from 2004


About Brendan Gregg

As an aside, Gregg's presentations and helpful webpages about profiling on Linux are gold. The useful information to noise ratio is very high, and just a few hours spent paying attention to him imparts more than enough practical information to really make a difference when performance tuning your own code. At risk of sounding like his agent, he's worth listening to if you want to know how to profile your software (and its interaction with your hardware) on Linux.

Will AI spell the end of humanity? The tech industry wants you to think so


Re: The Matrix

You *are* in the Edwardian era. From the several orders of magnitude further up the progress chain that the controllers are, the Edwardian era and the 21st century look the same.

Red Hat eye from the Ubuntu guy: Fedora – how you doin'?


Re: Ubuntu and RH Enterprise

Sadly, I honestly don't recall. I know that at one point years ago I tried Ubuntu and found that it was easier for me in my particular set of use cases, but that was then. I went through SUSE as well. I wouldn't be surprised if RHEL was actually now just as good, or better, for those use cases, but as with all tools, I'll only switch back when the pain of the one I'm currently using outweighs the pain of switching.


Ubuntu and RH Enterprise

Single data point though I am, I work for a software company that officially supports RH Enterprise Linux. Every so often, a customer asks if it will run on Ubuntu.

We tell this customer that officially, Ubuntu is not supported. We then tell the customer that the entire Linux dev team is coding and building on Ubuntu or Mint, ranging from bleeding edge to the LTS version from 2014, and all the dev and testing right up until the final "official" test (which is expected to just pass) is done on Ubuntu and Mint machines. So it's probably more reliable on Ubuntu than the officially supported RH Linux.

RH Linux has become effectively a standard we have to meet, but never actually use ourselves. it used to simply get in the way too much, or make things that should have been easy a bit more difficult than I'd like; this article suggests some pain points have been removed. Maybe time for another look.

Puny human sailors still needed... until drone machine learning tech catches up


Re: ?

It communicates to other mariners that you are at anchor. It's law of the sea via the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Regulations_for_Preventing_Collisions_at_Sea

So. What's North Korea really like?


Re: "only around a hundred outsiders get to see it each year"? Really?

I think they must have relaxed a bit on visas. As I understood it from Koryo tours, if you're not a journalist and you don't have pictures of yourself on facebook mocking the DPRK or Kim, you'll be fine.


"only around a hundred outsiders get to see it each year"? Really?

The actual document the article is reporting says, and I quote:

"About 5,000 Western tourists a year go through this rigmarole. "

Went myself with the same tour group in 2012. The act of going is really not such a big deal.

Post-referendum UK still part of Euro cyberterror stress test... for now


"Cyber Europe 2016 paints a very dark scenario, inspired by events such as the blackout in a European Country over Christmas period"

That's us, right? As I understand it, cyber attack not necessary; just our own cak-handed mismanagement of power stations and our energy needs.

CEO of shady ad site Backpage and owners arrested on human trafficking suspicions


Re: This is bloody ridiculous.

"How exactly were they assisting in the crime sweetie?"

They were told that advert X is placed by a criminal, to facilitate a crime. They chose to continue displaying advert X. In doing so, they knowingly assisted a criminal commit a crime.

Your use of "sweetie" marks you out as a passive-aggressive prick. Your inability to understand how knowingly displaying an advert from a criminal, placed for the purposes of criminal activities, assists the undertaking of a crime, marks you out as dangerously stupid.

FT journo roasts channel leaders for spouting bullshit


Thesauri at dawn

It is an error to take synonyms listed in a thesaurus as being identical in meaning, particularly in the English language.

As an example, the typical thesaurus lists "evidence" and "proof" together.

My Nest smoke alarm was great … right up to the point it went nuts


Re: idiots with more money than sense...

"Works fine".

Up until the point that a building catches fire, it has a perfect record of not catching fire. As you say, works fine.

Premier League Sky card crims ordered to cough up nearly £1m


Missed headline opportunity?

"Crime doesn't pay - FACT" perhaps? Or "In FACT, crime doesn't pay" maybe.

Definitely some kind of missed opportunity here :(

Invasion of the Brandsnatchers: How Nokia and BlackBerry inhabit the afterlife


As an aside on Nokia the actual company...

They're making profits and paying dividends. They have been an absolute star of my haphazard portfolio for the last few years, outshone only by ARM who have latterly been snaffled by Softbank.

UK copyright troll weeps, starts 20-week stretch in the cooler for beating up Uber driver


Re: 20 wks in prison! He's a kid for fucks sake!

I don't get it. Do you mean 20 wks old? Was there a typo in the original article?

It's here! Defence Secretary launches £800m MoD tech creche


Sometimes, the wall is really quite tall. Sometimes, it's several walls in a row and climbing over the first five so you can use a periscope over the sixth isn't really practical. Sometimes the wall is far away, and sometimes standing behind it to use a periscope puts one very much in the open. Basically, there are lots of times when sauntering up to something with a periscope is a worse idea than hiding somewhere safe and sending a little drone to do the looking for you.

If you're happy with the idea of spy planes instead of sending a man to take a look, then this is the same principle, writ smaller.

It's OK to fine someone for repeating a historical fact, says Russian Supreme Court


Re: Or the Russians haven't updated their website yet

" 'The A and B jointly invaded C'. If you don't know what A, B and C are, would you conclude that A & B moved on the same day? At least I would yet in this case it would be a clear untruth."

So YOU would be stupid enough to make a false assumption not supported by the data? Is that really your argument? Your own stupidity?