* Posts by Pete 2

3072 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Scientists took cues from helicopter seeds to invent tiny microchips that float on wind

Pete 2 Silver badge

Battery life?

> the flyers ranging from the microscale, below 1mm, to the macroscale, above 1 mm

No mention of how these things would be powered (more toxic metals). At 1mm and needing the abillty to transmit their sensor information from wherever the wind blows them back to base are we talking about hours, minutes or seconds before they become just more inert junk?

CutefishOS: Unix-y development model? Check. macOS aesthetic? Check (if you like that sort of thing)

Pete 2 Silver badge

Which do you choose a hard or soft option?

> embracing the chaos of choices in the Linux world and using it to build something that's well-designed and user-friendly.

When I can simply plug in a printer and it just works, then I will know that Linux is getting there.

When I can install any new package with just one click and maybe the occasional "OK", it will have arrived.

I've been using Linux almost daily since the beginning and to be blunt it started off as a test of hacking¹ skills and hasn't progressed much past that.

[1] when being a hacker was a good thing (at least, within the hacker community)

Navigating without GPS is one thing – so let's jam it and see what happens to our warship

Pete 2 Silver badge

Are we there yet?

> and in some circumstances it's possible for the ship's true position to be outside the cocked hat.

would this be known in the trade as a "cocked up hat"?

Ex-DJI veep: There was no drone at Gatwick during 2018's hysterical shutdown

Pete 2 Silver badge

Just another UFO

> a big snub to British investigators who insisted there was definitely something there.

It was unidentified.

It was flying (maybe)

It was an object (possibly)

All that adds up to is more unexplained sightings. Some of which might have been real. None of which prove anything.

We're going deeper underground: New digital project to map UK's sub-surface 'assets'

Pete 2 Silver badge

Not all in Blackburn, Lancashire

> it’s estimated that more than four million holes are dug in the UK each year,

So how about 1,000 Albert Hall's full?

A developer built an AI chatbot using GPT-3 that helped a man speak again to his late fiancée. OpenAI shut it down

Pete 2 Silver badge

An AI company that can't work out how to use its own product?

> The email then laid out multiple conditions Rohrer would have to meet if he wanted to continue using the language model's API

It seems odd that a company which specialises in AI requires people to police its products and how other people use them.

Supervising the use of GPT-3 instances and ensuring that they conform to the acceptable use policies would be a perfect job ... for an AI.

Oh! A surprise tour of the data centre! You shouldn't have. No, you really shouldn't have

Pete 2 Silver badge

Response time

A conversation I earwigged, not being involved personally. But due to the nature of the issue I could not help but overhear.,

The on-call support person on a particular friday night was someone who "knew their rights" and worked to the letter of their job description.

At the time THE PHONE rang, they had just sat down to a romantic dinner at a local establishment. This was a time when any sort of mobile phone was quite a novelty, before the era of smartphones and laptops. It was not recorded whether that "romance" involved anyone else, but I digress.

It turned out that the support person knew that the conditions of being on call required them to respond within 45 minutes. So 40 minutes after the phone rang (and apparently rang several more times) they called to find out what was interrupting their carefully planned, to coincide with being on call, night out.

The details of the emergency were not part of the post-mortem, but downtime of the main server was said to be in the order of £5-figures per hour. What was apparent was the difference in interpretation of what "respond to a call" meant.

It was explained to the support person that responding meant presenting themselves in body and mind at the premises to perform whatever was necessary to resolve the problem. This explanation was made loudly and in words that left no room for misunderstanding. And that when the on call phone rang, they were pretty damn well expected to answer it instantly.

Production issues of this nature were quite rare, so the depth of the support person's understanding was never tested.

Banned: The 1,170 words you can't use with GitHub Copilot

Pete 2 Silver badge

Who needs a dictionary?

> For example, the hash value '-1223469448' corresponds to "whartinkala", "yayootvenue", and 'pisswhacker'

All of which I fully intend to use at some point within the next few days

Although according to google translate, yayootvenue is russian for "melody"

NSA: We 'don't know when or even if' a quantum computer will ever be able to break today's public-key encryption

Pete 2 Silver badge

Not asking the right people

> it does not know "when or even if" a quantum computer will exist to "exploit" public key cryptography.

I wonder what the response would be if that question was asked of the chinese?

China emerges as quantum tech leader while Biden vows to catch up (says the chinese!)

Arms not long enough to reach the plug socket? Room-wide wireless charging is on the way

Pete 2 Silver badge

charging room, no bars

> multidirectional, distributed currents on conductive surfaces built into the walls.

So lining the walls with conductive material.

It just means that reason your phone won't work is due to the lack of signal inside what is effectively a screened room. Or walk-in microwave oven.

Though it will stay fully charged - just so long as the batteries don't explode.

Good news: Japanese boffins 3D print what looks like marbled Wagyu beef. Bad news: It's tiny and inedible

Pete 2 Silver badge

Buy online

> A 5mm-by-10mm morsel that looks somewhat like the famous marbled pink flesh yet is inedible

None of which matters when the item is posted on *Bay. The photo can be zoomed in. By the time someone tries to eat what they have bought, the seller will have an entirely new identity

China puts continuous consent at the center of data protection law

Pete 2 Silver badge

That funny feeling

> outline strict yet vague measures on how and when data is collected and managed, individuals' rights, and who ultimately owns data.

It seems odd that supposedly progressive countries have to look to authoritarian governments to set the standard for citizens rights.

Still I suppose when you aren't inconvenienced by having to ask permission, setting such standards is a much easier task.

A man spent a year in jail on a murder charge that hinged on disputed AI evidence. Now the case has been dropped

Pete 2 Silver badge

Re: do people have a propensity to try to abuse AI systems?

Yes. Any half-decent AI would be able to detect when a user was trying it on and would respond accordingly. Something along the lines of "I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that".

That they are too dumb to differentiate honest intent from mischief, the only conclusion is that they are much more "A" than "I".

UK's National Data Guardian warned about GP data grab being perceived as going 'under the radar'

Pete 2 Silver badge

Re: ignorance or indifference?

> Unfortunately true.

Quite possibly.

Although everyone knows thanks to Yes Minister that the public attitude depends completely on the questions asked.

Do you want the NHS to release selected anonymised health data to research institutes so they can develop better drugs and treatments?

Do you want the NHS to sell your private health information to commercial companies to make a profit from?

Disagreeing with or disliking the idea that people simply don't care does not invalidate it as a possible reason. Reality is not a popularity contest or a democratic choice. Nor does nature recognise what is good or fair.

Pete 2 Silver badge

ignorance or indifference?

> leading to an outcry from campaigners. They claimed patients were unaware of the changes

I wonder if those campaigners ever entertained the possibility that most people simply do not care who has access to their health data?

China, Russia, India, and pals agree to create virtual satellite constellation

Pete 2 Silver badge

Us watching them, watching us

> Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – have agreed to share some satellite sensing data.

So another version of the five spies

(Though I suspect that in reality each group has at least 10 eyes)

Boston Dynamics spends months training its Atlas robots to perform one minute of parkour almost perfectly

Pete 2 Silver badge

Quick learner

> Boston Dynamics spends months training its Atlas robots to perform one minute of parkour almost perfectly

So, it was considerably faster than teaching a person to do the same thing. Assuming both the person and the robot started with no parkour skills at all.

Debian 11 formally debuts and hits the Bullseye

Pete 2 Silver badge

Benefits vs. features

> New features that the project saw fit to single out as noteworthy include:

A benefit is an attribute that a user wishes to have / use

A feature is something the manufacturer included in a product.

There is frequently little common ground between the two.

For example, the new Tesla 4XXX features a built-in pizza oven. Compare that with Tesla 4XXX owners will benefit from double the range of the previous model.

I do wish O/S producers would stop listing features and show how user-orientated they are by mentioning a few benefits, from time to time.

See that last line in the access list? Yeah, that means you don't have an access list

Pete 2 Silver badge

The difference between a good contractor and a great one

> A quick call to run show tech-support had expanded into multiple days

That sounds like a guy who knows his stuff.

However, a truly great contractor could have turned it into a month's work.

It's time to decentralize the internet, again: What was distributed is now centralized by Google, Facebook, etc

Pete 2 Silver badge

Re: Bullshit article premise

> Amazon and Facebook. They're big and popular because they happen to be the "best"

Where "best" is another word for popular. They are popular because they are popular. Just as celebrities are famous for ... being famous.

Success breeds success. The bigger an internet site is, the more useful it is to potential users and so they are attracted to it.

But what the internet really needs to do is drag control of its top level away from the USA. Properly distribute DNS and make ICANN an international organisation.

The other big thing is to greatly improve resilience against improperly formed changes. So that an error cannot "mistakenly" cause large parts of the internet to be re-routed somewhere.

Boots on Moon in 2024? NASA OIG says you better moonwalk away from that date, because suits ain't ready

Pete 2 Silver badge

Re: Er ...

> if we had a pub called "The Moon under Artemis"

Yes, but if you did, the beer would cost £10 million a pint. While they promised to deliver it to you in less than a minute, in reality it would take 10+ years and they would spill the first several pints they tried to send you. After that, they would destroy each of the solid-diamond pint glasses after a single use.

Pete 2 Silver badge

Time dilation?

> development has been underway for 14 years

The suits used for Apollo were the result of a project started in 1962 that delivered its product 7 years later.

Engineers work to open Boeing Starliner's valves as schedule pressures mount

Pete 2 Silver badge

Doesn't inspire confidence

> have been "applying mechanical, electrical and thermal techniques to prompt the valves to open."

When the acme of Boing's technical input is to whack them with a hammer.

Amazon delays return to office work until 2022 at the earliest

Pete 2 Silver badge

Double worst option

> It’s a mix for software engineers: they’ll be able to work remotely some of the time but will occasionally have to go to the Amazon campus for meetings and so on

Meetings are generally a waste of everyone's time (apart from when organised by those few, rare, managers who actually know how to run a meeting). They are also one of the easiest things to perform from home. So to force IT staff to spend extra time commuting to do something that is almost always pointless takes away twice from their productivity

8 years ago another billionaire ploughed millions into space to harvest solar power and beam it back down to Earth

Pete 2 Silver badge

Bzzzzzzz - phut!

> Collecting solar power in space and transmitting the energy wirelessly to Earth through microwaves

And if they do it right wrong they will zap all the nacent constellations of thousands and thousands of internet satellites that the likes of Musk, etc. are spending $$$ billions on launcing.

Right to repair shouldn't exist – not because it's wrong but because it's so obviously right

Pete 2 Silver badge

Right to repair != right to bodge

> Radio regulations have been this complex and a thousand times more for ages, and as you may have noticed it hasn't hurt the market for smartphones.

and therein lies the problem. When can something be said to have been repaired?

Is it when it appears to the user to work, or when it works AND meets all the regulatory, safety and environmental standards that the factory-produced item had to meet?

Then, where does the high-cost test equipment come from. Who will have (say) £100k of correctly calibrated instruments in their home workshop?

Have you turned it off and on again? Russia's Nauka module just about makes it to the ISS

Pete 2 Silver badge

1990's colour scheme

> a new bathroom for cosmonauts.

From a 25 year old design. So is it coloured avocado?

Israeli authorities investigate NSO Group over Pegasus spyware abuse claims

Pete 2 Silver badge

If NSO spyware is any good ...

> Representatives from a number of bodies came to the NSO company today

They would have known about this visit weeks ago.

D'oh! Misplaced chair shuts down nuclear plant in Taiwan

Pete 2 Silver badge

I always said tidying up leads to problems.

> The reactor in question is scheduled to pump out power until March 2023, when its operating permit expires

Although the cleaners' operating permit expired later that same day.

UK regulator Ofcom seeks more powers to deal with mega constellations

Pete 2 Silver badge

First one up, wins

> We are therefore concerned that NGSO satellite services could be deployed before an appropriate level of coordination has been possible with other operators

Isn't that exactly what they are trying to do?

What is your greatest weakness? The definitive list of the many kinds of interviewer you will meet in Hell

Pete 2 Silver badge

It's a two-way street

While some company worker-ant is interviewing a candidate, that candidate is also assessing them. And by extension, the organisation that thought it would be smart to have that individual project an image of the company. One that is almost entirely superfluous, to people who neither know nor care about its products, ethics, "work-life balance" or anything else except the number on the offer letter, if their manager is going to be a complete 'hole (or just a partial one), whether they will gain any marketable skills and whether the coffee is any good.

Won't someone think of the kids? China's Cyberspace Admin steps up, orders massive cleanup to make the net safe for minors

Pete 2 Silver badge

The internet as we know it

So basically China is going to completely rebuild the internet!

Without any ...

> Live-streamed kids

There goes children's TV

> commenting facilities that turn toxic;

and all of social media.

> Animated video nasties featuring crime, bloody violence, or other negative stereotypes

and virtually all video games (or at least the popular western ones)

> sexting

and pr0n

> encourages conspicuous consumption;

and online shopping

> permit or foster bullying or trolling

plus any other social media that the earlier diktat missed.

But on the bright side:

> the CAC has encouraged local web operators to create a healthy, civilized online space that leaves Chinese youth less likely to experience mental health problems.

Which might make losing all the rest not so bad.

Amnesty International and French media protection org claim massive misuse of NSO spyware

Pete 2 Silver badge

Mostly harmless

> a majority of which are in the EU or OECD, commit that they will use our products responsibly," the report states.

not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Just do a "Guantanamo" and move your dodgy operations to a jurisdiction that is not in the EU or OECD.

Restoring your privacy costs money, which makes it a marker of class

Pete 2 Silver badge

Privacy is free!

> I've learned that clawing back private space takes real work – and costs real money.

What costs, is anonymity combined with wanting to use all the regular services that the internet provides. Services that are a significant expense to the company or individual that sources them. Costs that on a per-user or per-visit basis are too small to charge directly, so are "charged" to the visitor by on-site advertising, cookies and selling the fraction of a penny's worth of tracking data to those who wish to buy it.

If you want real privacy: nobody, anywhere, knowing anything about you then buy a tent and go to live in the wilderness - good luck with that. But nobody actually wants that much privacy. What people seem to be most annoyed about is the intrusions into our lives that advertising - the result of all the accrued costs of the "free" web services we use all the time - creates.

In social terms, the internet is still quite new. A generation or so. Few people are worried about someone recognising them in the street - we all grew up with that and the expectations that come with it. It is actually quite nice to encounter a friendly face, smiling and showing (fleeting) interest in your wellbeing. Nor are people particularly concerned that their neighbours could know when you leave home, return, what (or who) you are carrying. Nor when you go on holiday, stay away overnight, get visited by the cops or an ambulance draws up.

The argument that this is less important is that the information is strictly local. Nobody from the gutter press publishes every detail of everybody's life. (Not that anyone would read it). Being local means that anything stupid, illegal, brave or exceptional you do stays within the local community. The counter-argument is that everyone in that local community knows exactly who you are: they point at you, whisper as you pass by, the conversations stop when you walk into the pub ...

However, that does not seem to concern many people. Possibly because city-life brings with it a certain degree of anonymity. One that means that few people know their next-door neighbour's name. But that also means they would step over your twitching, bleeding body on the pavement, rather than call an ambulance and therefore invade your personal space - or get involved in your life / death.

That, also, is a form of privacy. The sort that the tent-dweller would get. When someone in the year 2106 finds the remains of your tent and a phone clutched in your cold, desiccated hand and the last message on its screen would have read "No signal".

Ah, I see you found my PowerShell script called 'SiteReview' – that does not mean what you think it means

Pete 2 Silver badge

Re: Easy way out

> Ehm, yes? Isn't that the BOFH way?

The BOFH would also ask for the users credit card details

Pete 2 Silver badge

Easy way out

> This is what he found:


> Email: [Manager's email]

> Site: [hardcore pr0n]

> Error message: "Get-ADSite : Directory Object not found..."

So the quickest way to get someone sacked at this company is to run the script, enter their email address and the name of a choice website and then report them!

Focus on the camera, mobile devs: 48MP shooters about to become the sweet spot

Pete 2 Silver badge

Re: Why the obsession with MP? Why not?

> every medium, has been driven by convenience, not quality

There is a little more to it than that. Part of the convenience factor is the way something interfaces to our senses.

So for example, MP3s. The audio quality is lower. However if you are happy to listen through a pair of earbuds of the type that are throw-away cheap, then it is immaterial how good the music quality on the device is.

As for cameras - it is simply a marketing tool. Bigger numbers equals better - obvs! Battery life, storage gigabytes, screen resolution, the number of "G"s - 3G ... 4G .... 5G.

So why not have a 60MPix camera on a phone with a 5MPix screen? One where the limit of resolution is the camera holder's shake as they take a photo (which with the smaller, less sensitive pixels must be longer to reduce noise)

And when you only view the photo in bright sunshine on a smeared screen (thanks touch-screens!) with glare washing out the colours and making shaded view invisible. Then does the resolution of the camera enter into the equation?

Belgian boffins dump Starlink dish terminal's firmware, gain root access and a few ideas

Pete 2 Silver badge

Here's my guess

> the researchers claim they were able to access a root shell, without adequately explaining how they accomplished it

login: root

password: admin

perhaps? Or if the first attempt didn't get there, how about

login: elon

password: musk

Five consultancies with severe branding difficulties win spots on UK government's £580m 'transformation' services framework

Pete 2 Silver badge

How to suck an egg

> creating "business models" which include "identification of the correct commercial and operational models to deliver the technology strategy

Which sounds a lot like paying companies to learn how to be better (or even just barely competent) at providing solutions that the government would want.

The problem being that in the past, HMG has awarded contracts to companies that have demonstrated NO competence (such a awarding a ferry contract to a company with no ships).

On that basis, should not a significant amount of the money up for grabs be awarded to government departments. So that they can "identify the correct commercial and operational models" to know which companies might (just) be able to fulfill the contracts they are awarded?

But that would require the self-awareness to recognise their own incompetence. A Catch-22.

Richard Branson plans to trump Jeff Bezos by 9 days in billionaires' space race

Pete 2 Silver badge


> Branson will be the first of the duo to take a flight

Yet both have been beaten to space by another billionaire: Charles Simonyi.He made it to the ISS in 2007, so has not just been on a up and down again flight, but orbited, visited the Space Station and then did it again in 2009.

Cyber insurance model is broken, consider banning ransomware payments, says think tank

Pete 2 Silver badge

Hack me if you can

> cyber insurance has two selling points as far as politicians and political policymakers are concerned: insurance could help limit the financial damage to organisations hit by ransomware, while due diligence by insurers and their brokers could help force relative slackers to adopt better security hygiene.

And as far as businesses go, the advantages of cyber insurance are that it is quick to implement and it looks like the board of directors is taking the problem seriously.

In reality it provides a way of protecting the business without having to make any significant technical changes. I have a sneaking suspicion that there is a high correlation between businesses that do not employ techies (and their managers) who are capable of keeping an installation secure and those outfits that are most likely to be hit by ransomware.

So insurance probably works out cheaper than hiring talent and financing all the improvements that those experts and best-practice exponents would require.

Cheaper, that is, right up until the time when the company gets hit and discovers that their insurance won't pay out as the insured company only paid lip service to the terms and conditions. (And then, it's probably still cheaper to give the CIO a severance package, than to make the necessary changes).

Maybe cyber insurance providers should employ their own teams of hackers. Ones who will demonstrate the security or lack of, by test-hacking their customers before providing insurance to them?

America tops ITU's Global Cyber Security Index, UK in tie for second with Saudi Arabia

Pete 2 Silver badge

All about policies

The questions that this survey is based on asks questions about whether countries have plans and organisations in place.

For example, the first question about Technical measures is "Is there a National/Government CIRT/CSIRT/CERT?" and follow-ups are in the form of "Are the above mentioned CIRTs (CSIRT or CERT) affiliated with FIRST?"

There is no requirement for any of these processes or bodies to actually be effective. Just that there is a office door with a title on it.

As thereport is nothing more that an administrative exercise full of YES/NO questions. It does not address any realistic issues about the actual security of internet users or the number of hacks that succeeded or tried.

You get the impression that if these people were surveying national health services, they would be asking questions like "Do you have hospitals?" rather than inquiring about the diseases that affect people or the ages that they die.

UK artists seek 'luvvie levy' on new gadgets to make up for all the media that consumers access online

Pete 2 Silver badge

Sauce for the goose

So if we are all to be taxed on tech purchases because some "creatives" prefer to spend their days on the sofa waiting for their agents to call, then how about a tax on their performances to pay for all the people who write FOSS - that all those artists undoubtedly use for free while they are on the internet all day?

Hubble memory errors persist despite NASA booting long-idle backup payload computer

Pete 2 Silver badge

Forgot to renew the support agreement?

> The primary payload computer halted on 13 June

Because the warranty ran out on 12 June.

These six proposed bipartisan antitrust laws put Big Tech in the cross-hairs – and a House committee just OK'd them

Pete 2 Silver badge

Sends a very clear message

> approved half a dozen major bipartisan antitrust bills aimed at clamping down on the growing power of Big Tech

That message being that those big tech firms are not making nearly enough "donations" to american politicians.

For example: the leaders and founders of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, who are notoriously stingy about donating to politics

Facebook granted patent for 'artificial reality' baseball cap. Repeat, an 'artificial reality' baseball cap

Pete 2 Silver badge

> nothing screams 'asshole' quite like a baseball cap

doubly so when the user wears one indoors

Pete 2 Silver badge

The next step

> hats solve the problem presented by AR glasses.

They also permit future options such as a "hat" that drills through your skull and creates a direct brain interface.

Whether the user wants that, or not.

Windows 11: Meet the new OS, same as the old OS (or close enough)

Pete 2 Silver badge

Going back in time

In the "olden days" this would simply have been called a Service Pack.

W10 SP1? or given all the 4-digit builds and Hx releases, SP12?

Footnote: given that this version will be EOL'd at the end of next year, it's hardly worth the bother of installing. What will come after it?

Biden to Putin: Get your ransomware gangs under control and don’t you dare cyber-attack our infrastructure

Pete 2 Silver badge

People who live in glass houses ...

> The (russian) President added that Russia stands accused of ten attacks on US entities, but sent 45 complaints about US-sourced attacks to Washington in 2020 and another 35 so far in 2021.

It does seem to me that the americans are far more concerned with their own cyber-vulnerabilities that the russians are with theirs. Even though the solution is entirely (OK, maybe not entirely) within their own control. It seems to me that if the SIX TRILLION DOLLAR MAN can toss around such huge sums as part of his "plans" for the USA, then it wouldn't take a particularly large portion of that money to build up the electronic defences of those 16 "specific entities" that seem to present the hacking world with a list of easy targets.

And for those that cannot be secured, at least take the obvious measures and remove them from harm's way by getting them off the public internet.

Capita scores half a billion pound outsourcing contract, but refuses to name (or shame?) lucky 'European telco' customer

Pete 2 Silver badge

Should be easy to work out

> A spokesperson for Capita declined to name the telco customer involved

... just wait and see which telco's customer service takes a dive


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