* Posts by Jonathan Richards 1

1334 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

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One man's battle to get patent rights for AI inventors in America may be over

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
Joke

Personality test

1. Your GPU neural network cluster has invented a cure for cancer. Do you:

(a) Give it to the United Nations

(b) Sell it to Big Pharma

(c) Run the output through the system again to see if it can eliminate erectile dysfunction.

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
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Re: humans will be able to steal their ideas and apply for patents in their own name

Yes, +1, I came to say the same thing, i.e. that one cannot steal from a machine, because the machine has no property rights to begin with, but also to point out that patents do not protect ideas. They have to teach an inventive step change in the technological sphere that they are covering, and describe it in sufficient detail for someone else to be able to replicate it. This is the very heart of why patents get granted: the disclosure of the invention improves the state of the art, in return for which the inventor gets to control the practicing of the invention for a period of time.

You can never have too many backups. Also, you can never have too many backups

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
Go

Re: Hardly on topic

I spent an unholy amount of time writing a RENUMBER routine for the C64 in 6502 assembler, calling subroutines of the built-in BASIC interpreter. Although I would regularly run out of line numbers while hacking around with BASIC, I am quite sure that I saved only a fraction of the time that I invested in writing RENUMBER.

Nichelle Nichols' ashes set for trek to the stars

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Re: What is this alum of which you speak?

> If I were a betting sophont, ...

You should have placed that bet, you'd have won the double. But... El Reg is hiring Variety hacks instead of keeping Ali Dabbs on the books? That seems strategically mistaken.

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
WTF?

Chemistry, now?

What is this alum of which you speak? A graduate/former student of a college is said to be an alumnus (masc.) or alumna (fem.), or in the plural alumni, but I've never seen it shortened so that it can be confused with double salts, see https://www.britannica.com/science/alum, nor yet applied to someone's previous career.

Our software is perfect. If something has gone wrong, it must be YOUR fault

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
FAIL

Re: UX Designer?

> when County is a mandatory postal address field

Often backed up with a drop-down list which is woefully out of date, like by years. I live in one of the counties which succeeded Avon (UK), when that administrative unit was dissolved... in 1996. You wouldn't believe how many drop-downs don't have my actual county's name, have Avon instead, and insist that I use the latter.

Edit: I see that compatriots have made this very point below.

First-ever James Webb Space Telescope image revealed

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Re: Larger still

You are Dr. I. J. Matrix, and I claim my £5.

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Re: Paradox (was Larger still)

Self-aware ≠ intelligent. Recent political news in $WOODS_UR_NECK refers.

Systemd supremo Lennart Poettering leaves Red Hat for Microsoft

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
Linux

Re: Not an expert, but...

> just an init system, takes care not to break stuff and is transparent about what it's doing

I think this is why I *still* prefer SysV init to systemd. It's the "do one thing and do it well" principle, which systemd definitely does not observe. It could be said that init didn't do it well, or well enough, and that would be arguable, but systemd, as jake said above, has tentacles and tentacles are, in principle, the wrong way to go about OS architecture. Oh, and failing to write accessible and human-readable log files. I understand how systemd-journald works, I just don't like it.

Everyone back to the office! Why? Because the decision has been made

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
Go

Re: We're not all British

Just to add another impenetrable allusion, perhaps "He's from Barcelona..."

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
Happy

Re: JRM

News Anchor: The Government seems to be getting bigger with every passing year. Has it gone too far? After the break, we speak with the Minister for Steak and Kidney Pudding.

[after Ronnie Barker, credit where it's due]

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
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Re: that jerk with the annoying voice and that other bastard who sniffs all day.

Reminds me of a Dilbert strip

Cow-orker: Has anyone seen my mobile phone?

Alice: I don't know, was it large, annoying and flushable?

Halfords suffers a puncture in the customer details department

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Wassat, then?

Halfords supplies tires now?

1,$s/tire/tyre/g

:wq!

Interestingly[1], searching halfords[dot]com for "tires" produces the same 8041 results as for "tyres", but not categorised into car tyres, bike tyres, etc.

[1] For certain small non-integer values of Interesting

Spain, Austria not convinced location data is personal information

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
FAIL

Re: Hm, I'd say..

I certainly agree, but I think that this is as good a place as any to say that if, in 20 years from now [1], a Spanish court tries to tie me to a crime on the basis of phone location data, my lawyer merely has to say, "Ahh, no, you see, because someone else might have been in possession of my client's phone". I think that then the prosecutor would have to prove without doubt that I had been in possession of the damn thing at the time. The baby in the bathwater is the probative value of the location data exactly for the purpose of tying a person to a crime scene.

[1] or any time period at all, in fact.

How refactoring code in Safari's WebKit resurrected 'zombie' security bug

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

...allows the user to modify the history

...to what purpose? Delete, purge and expunge the history, I can see might be useful, but what is the use case for an API call which is modifying it?

Not a GNOME fan, and like the look of Windows? Try KDE Plasma or Cinnamon

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
WTF?

Thank you so much...

... for that screenshot with the window almost totally obscuring the sickeningly lurid sddm login screen background which has arrived with the default theme (Breeze). It looks like something a five-year old on acid would generate, and was the first (and so far only) thing I've changed since KDE Neon punted out the new release.

Google has more reasons why it doesn't like antitrust law that affects Google

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Re: While I applaud the Democrats

> it would take reading the entire bill to know if it really does that.

You make that sound like a Herculean task that nobody should be asked to undertake. At the very least your Senators should have read any Bill that they're invited to vote on. If they're voting on the basis of some sort of executive summary (drafted by whom?) then they're not doing the one thing that they're actually elected for. I suppose maybe I shouldn't be surprised.

US Copyright Office sued for denying AI model authorship of digital image

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Inventiveness

As somebody else pointed out, a non-self-aware AI is neither a controlled/controllable tool (e.g. stone axe, 3-D printer) nor an entity which can own and exercise rights in any jurisdiction on this planet (AFAIK). If a genuinely inventive AI is produced which teaches a genuinely inventive improvement in technology, then the question becomes is it a conscious entity that deserves [human] rights? If so, it is not ethical to own it, nor its products. The operator is the AI's servant, bringing it learning data and computing power, without the authority to license the AI's inventions.

I love the Linux desktop, but that doesn't mean I don't see its problems all too well

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
Happy

Why should we care?

No, really. I don't need my chosen Linux desktop to drive MS (and coincidentally all the other Linux desktops) into oblivion, so that I can say that I am using the "most popular" variation. If the distro./desktop has sufficient critical mass to maintain its development, support and documentation, then I'm happy. At the moment, and for many years it's been KDE for me, but I could change if something better *for me* comes along. Something better for a lot of others? I don't really care.

Sick of Windows but can't afford a Mac? Consult our cynic's guide to desktop Linux

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: Humorously Scare People Away

> the average user will more easily find support for Windows [ or MacOS ]

I don't know about MacOS, but I actually find it harder to find reliable straightforward support for Windows issues. This is because the Web is full of pages that are generated with a template: "Find support for $ISSUE here! Simple fix for $ISSUE errors!!"

The forums are full of people with "expert user" status, who simply recommend re-installing all the time, and of course Windows doesn't write anything as support-friendly as /var/log/syslog.

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Re: Control Your Own Upgrades

If you think you're going to be chopping and changing between distros, it would be a good idea to have /home on a separate partition. Then at least when you clobber a distro you can save yourself the bother of backing up and restoring /home. In the new distro, simply re-create the previous user (in which case /home/the_user will be adopted by the new distro) or make a new user and cp or mv data in to home/new_user as required.

This does require care when selecting partitions for the newer installation, though, so there are perils if the installation process is opaque or non-intuitive as is the case for some.

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
Joke

Re: Control Your Own Upgrades

> right up until some bastard upstream recompiled libmetalplate.so to use a conflicting version of libplate.so

And they still don't support the cinnamon M&Ms without compiling a special module...

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
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Re: Control Your Own Upgrades

Mint + XFCE is pretty good, and pretty lightweight: I have it running adequately on a Samsung N210 netbook (remember netbooks?) that has been goosed up with an SSD.

The next time your program is 'not responding,' (do not) try these steps

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Re: Separation of duties

>Two laptops ...

Now you just doubled the problems!

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
Stop

Re: VMs?

And also for the hardware maker, see Alister's step 8. The waste of computing resources really is immense - since memory and disk space of ordinary desktop machines became greater than I used to think were decent specs for a mid-range server, I'm sure that developers don't even consider them to be constraints any more. I don't want to go back to revising assembler code to save a few dozen bytes or a few thousand CPU cycles, but it has now gone badly the other way.

Small nuclear reactors produce '35x more waste' than big plants

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Re: Opaque

If he does, ee'l wish he hadn't.

IBM-powered Mayflower robo-ship once again tries to cross Atlantic

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
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Re: Just maybe

Fri 27 May 10:52:28 BST 2022

Current course 311°, which puts it on a heading for northern Nova Scotia. AI may be achieving consciousness :))

Suspected phishing email crime boss cuffed in Nigeria

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
Go

Re: Please claim your reward

Dear Insp. Clouseau

re your email of 26th inst., I am afraid that I consider your joke to be entirely fraudulent. Your written English is much too good.

Yours sincerely

Mark Obviously

Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
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Re: What happens on the "other" side?

Came here to mention this very paragraph. Also, since the Earth rotates, that direct line-of-sight communication is actually rather inconstant, at maximum 12 h day-1.

Linus Torvalds debuts 'boring old plain' Linux kernel 5.18

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: cryptographically signed licenses to enable dormant features in Intel silicon

> problems with people forking the kernel code

There's nothing inherently problematic about forking of code; it's rather the point! It has to be done correctly, of course, or that will cause problems. If one has an application for a kernel where obscure functionality might be a risk, then it will be worth maintaining a branch without it.

Confirmation dialog Groundhog Day: I click OK and it keeps coming back

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
Go

Re: [ae].*tive

If I delimit that regex with ^$ I still get 34 hits by grepping over /etc/dictionaries-common/words. I started to compose a witty post containing all of them, but failed at "appositive" for the good and sufficient reason that I have no idea what it means. Insert evocative attractive alternative here.

An international incident or just some finger trouble at the console?

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Re: always do the secondary

In *nix systems, most folk have their console command prompts set up to report username and host, and to have different input prompt symbols for unprivileged users and for root. If I'm really taking care, I might change the colour of my bash prompt based on whoami.

This is controlled (in bash, at least), by the environment variables PS1...PS4, initialized in ~/.bashrc.

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Re: Not lost in translation

Downvote was a bit harsh, not from me. I suspect the commentard from the foremast [1] was conflating the Internet with the World-Wide Web, especially in the context of 'looking something up".

[1] We number the masts from the bow backwards, right? Probably the bowsprit is Mast0.

Cryptocurrency laundromat Blender shredded by US Treasury in sanctions first

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
Joke

> Unfortunately criminal uses seem to be the norm in cryto

Somebody's takin' the p.

Putin threatens supply chains with counter-sanction order

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Re: You want to play hardball?

> "Why the Ukraine is the West's fault." [emphasis added]

There's an interesting reason why Ukraine would like everyone to stop using the definite article in front of their country's name, see e.g. Ukraine or the Ukraine: Why do some country names have 'the'?

NASA's modified Boeing 747 SP SOFIA to be grounded for good

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: I'm puzzled...

> falling towards the earth, [and] missing

The secret of flight, as all good hitchhikers know.

US appeals court ruling could 'eliminate internet privacy'

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

> does not the TOS trump everything else

Well, not if hayzoos is correct about not being able to sign away constitutional rights. Illegal contracts are unenforceable in almost all jurisdictions, which is why you find the clauses in the TOS which say that if any part of the agreement is deemed illegal then all the rest of it still stands. Clever lawyers are going to argue for a long time about securing (as opposed to actually obtaining) a copy of information which is possible evidence before there is probable cause.

Well, they're going to argue about it in the USA; in the UK it happens routinely, I expect.

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Re: So who does this affect?

And yet Most Officials would be wrong about this, wouldn't they? The US Constitution is not armor for citizens, it regulates what the State(s) and Federal government can do. As a Brit, were I to travel to the US, I believe that those constitutional rules work for me, too, so I can invoke e.g. the fifth amendment to refuse to self-incriminate?

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: Wrong Yet Again

Indeed. It's just unfortunate that to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court, one has to appear to be going in to bat for Rosenow, who is clearly an odious individual, and who shouldn't benefit from the "I get away with it because you shouldn't have found me out" argument.

MIT's thin plastic speakers fall flat. And that's by design

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
Unhappy

What a pity...

> At a distance of 30cm (12 inches), it's claimed, these thin-film speakers can generate high-quality sound equivalent to the volume of a typical conversation

What a pity that they chose not to demonstrate that in the linked video, then. Only when I read the video title did I understand that I ought to have been able to hear a Queen track (God bless you, Ma'am) but I can still only barely pick it out of the noise. Reminds me of the quality of LW radio from a 6-transitor receiver, I'm afraid.

Your software doesn't work when my PC is in 'O' mode

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Re: ID ten T Errors

Of course it does: it's a double-pole USB, push-to-enter-I-mode device :)

Elon Musk set to buy Twitter in $44b deal, promises stuff

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
Stop

Re: Journalism vs. Copy & Paste...

+1

There also seems to be a trend in the red-top papers here to regurgitate Reddit threads, as if that were journalism, too.

ZX Spectrum, the 8-bit home computer that turned Europe onto PCs, is 40

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Comparison

>impact cannot be understated.

IF IMPACT > 0 THEN GOSUB PROOFREAD

Oracle already wins 'crypto bug of the year' with Java digital signature bypass

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

:D--

Is that a projectile vomit emoticon? Nice, I'll have uses for that...

The right to repairable broadband befits a supposedly critical utility

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
WTF?

Re: Human factor

I saw a 40cm square wooden spice rack for sale the other day, with a prominent label saying "unsuitable for dishwashers". It didn't mention whether it might contain dairy, gluten or nuts, but give them time.

Reg reader rages over Virgin Media's email password policy

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Re: The best password is the one you don't remember

... or your mother comes to stay, and wants to hook her phone up to your WiFi. "No, mother, not D=*4AI@X^r$)d2R><-wSTO}v0QoksFV\3NtMZ8qxPJ_B;6|.n~b/1U9G!#%jfKag, it's D=*4AI@X^r$)d2R><-wSTO}v0QoksFV\3NtMZ8qxPJ_B;7|.n~b/1U9G!#%jfKag"

Ukraine invasion: We should consider internet sanctions, says ICANN ex-CEO

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Re: Non-executive director...

There's an argument that non-executive directors (who are there to provide oversight and advice independently of the executive parts of the board) are more important than execs. Often they have responsibilities for the important non-operational aspects of running a business; I'm thinking of Health and Safety, or Data Protection, for example, and holding the business to account.

Further reading: Non-Executive Director

IT blamed after HR forgets to install sockets in new office

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Re: He who shouts loudest is often wrong

> context

It sounds like one of those apocryphal military appraisal comments [1] from yesteryear, and cavalry units would take a keen interest in the bloodlines of their horses.

1. Another I recall, scoring for Leadership: His men will follow him anywhere, if only out of morbid curiosity.

UK govt signs IT contracts 'without understanding' the needs

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Re: No shit, Sherlock?!

+1.

The requirements should also be drafted alongside the test specs. For that, the IT bods are no good at all, you absolutely *need* the end users involved; only they will know how you tell that the deliverables are or are not working correctly.

Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

Re: No shit, Sherlock?!

It matches many of my experiences in Defence, as well.

There are two points that I'd make: first of all that management consultants and IT/IS vendors cultivate the "non-digital leader" (hereinafter PHB) because it is to some extent there that the fulcrum of their marketing leverage rests. It's then hard for the PHB to listen to their own staff contradicting some of those smooth marketing messages, because (a) the contradictions aren't dressed up in marketing jargon, and (b) they don't come with lunch and a really nice Chablis.

Secondly, there is the fact that fuzzy requirements are somewhat to the contractors advantage. Post-contract changes are pretty lucrative, but the relationship of Profit to Requirement Definition is not linear. A few changes will yield some nice income, and a manageable time overrun. Get in on a contract where the customer can't tell A from the track of a duck, though, and then both parties are in the shit.

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