* Posts by Andrew Orlowski

1435 publicly visible posts • joined 6 Sep 2006


Veteran vulture Andrew Orlowski is offski after 19 years at The Register

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: An Orlowski article? With comments enabled???

It's all open now, just click and you're in right away.

Gather round, friends. Listen close. It's time to list the five biggest lies about 5G

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

It's mostly about capacity so far. You can do more with the very latest engineering - multiple antennae, beam forming - than you can with LTE equipment designed in the mid-2000s. Operators are also keen to use more spectrum, and refarm what they've got. The second picture down in this story (Hutch) shows what they're getting in real world tests so far:


P30 pic pyrotechnics in Paris: That's one Huawei to set the smartphone world alight

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: 50x optical zoom?

Yes, it's there as a demonstration and to grab headlines - and to show off their algorithms. 50x isn't really usable in real life I'm discovering. You may get lucky and capture a usable image, but it isn't great, as the image is moving so much (still).

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)
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Re: "range"?

Correct <red face>

Influential cypherpunk and crypto-anarchist Tim May dies aged 67

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Maybe you need to get out more. A world in which the workers don’t get paid for creating and making stuff is not a better world than the one it replaced. Particularly when the value accrues to a small digital elite: Google and Facebook.

Good luck defending that point on the barricades. Because they really are coming for you.

The eulogising of The Mother Of All Demos at 50 is Silicon Valley going goo-goo for gurus again

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Not just me then

Les Earnest is 88 next week, and still going strong. Here's a post he made to Dave Farber's mailing list on Wednesday:


The stories cited, especially the one about my old friend Doug Engelbart, are total bullshit. The Engelbart myth and his resulting receipt of the ACM Turing award came out of his 1968 [1988? - ed] talk in San Francisco, where a seriously ignorant journalist in the audience named Steven Levy jumped to the erroneous conclusion that Doug had invented all the stuff he was showing even though most of it went back as much as 20 years. Another journalist, John Markoff, then repeated that baloney in the New York Times, which by the rules of journalism made it solid history.

I know all that because I helped create some of the earlier technology, working at MIT Lincoln Laboratory beginning in 1956, then in its Mitre Corporation spinoff beginning in 1958. MIT's Whirlwind computer had been developed before I got there but I got to play with it and also with the TX-0 and TX-2 computers, all of which which had good text editors from their beginnings in the1950s. In summary, all of the published histories about text editing are fantasies, like most computer history shown in public media, web sites, and the Computer History Museum. The latter is evidently not interested in telling the truth even though I have been trying to bribe them with big donations since I became a founding member, following my donations to its predecessor, the Digital Computer Museum in Boston.

One thing that Doug Engelbart did invent was the mouse, with some help from his colleague, Bill English, but it was not a big step forward. Many of us had been moving display cursors around for years using Light Guns, a pistol-sized optical sensor with a trigger that could be aimed at optical elements on the screen. A smaller and lighter version was then developed called the light pen, which I used a lot in my graduate research, developing the first cursive handwriting recognizer including the first spelling checker, which won me a free trip to Europe in 1962 to present it at the IFIP Congress in Munich.

The mouse created no new capability but it did have two advantages over the light pen:

- It was cheaper, and

- It could be moved on a flat horizontal surface instead of having to reach to the screen.

However, with widespread use of pocket computers coming into play, the mouse is now slowly dying, just like Doug did.

Lester D Earnest



Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: "range"?

Thank you! I will.

The internet is going to hell and its creators want your help fixing it

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: Fewer of those guys,

I'm on it.

I spoke at the London version of: https://doug-50.info

YouTube fight gets dirty: Kids urged to pester parents over Article 13

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: Isn't it bad?

It's worth pointing out that Google filters *almost* every video already for copyright violations with ContentID. But they only turn it on for you if you sign up to their advertising network.

Perhaps Article 13 is not the way I'd plug the UGC loophole, or the way you'd want to either, but to pretend (as you just have) that Google doesn't already filter for copyright violations on a vast scale is disingenuous. It manages to do this apparently impossible task "without blocking Europeans from YouTube".

Google: Our DeepMind health slurp is completely kosher

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: Linklaters

"It would seem that any use of patient personal data for purposes other than those explicitly set out in the contract will be illegal"

This is the Linklaters report paid for by the Royal Free. In it, everything's lovely. There's nothing to worry about. Unicorns have even been sighted in the meadow.

Story: Audit of DeepMind deal with NHS trust: It checks out, nothing to see here


No one else seems particularly reassured. The only opinion that matters here though is the ICO and they have yet to deliver their verdict.

Do you feel more confident now you know that Google/DeepMind doesn't actually *know* who owns the data, and falsely asserts that the Trust owns it?

Cheeky cheesemaker fails to copyright how things taste

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: "This ensures the law remains uncertain"

The decisions of the Court are very much legally binding - that's the point. The top tiers of the court are legally binding while the third tier, the CST (the Tribunal) is not.

This might help: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldselect/ldeucom/128/12805.htm

Huawei Mate 20 Pro: If you can stomach the nagware and price, it may be Droid of the Year

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: It may be a £899 phone

"First day of use and I haven't seen any nagware, everything just got turned off in the settings without a fuss."

I have to review what's in front of me, anon.

HiTouch is turned off in Settings and should stay off. Instead, it requests permissions to start every time the phone detects a two finger gesture. Which is quite often. Arguably, this is coercion under GDPR and the process is not fully GDPR compliant.

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

"there have been other implementations of facial recognition on phones for quite a while"

Not the same thing. Those compare 2D images and are easily spoofed. A few (eg, Lumia 950) added crude depth detection via IR, to decide whether the image was a photo or a 3D "face". By contrast Apple's FaceID builds a 3D model using 30,000 points, then uses that as the basis for comparisons.

'Blockchain SAVED my Quango'

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: Copyright blockchain?

I have heard hundreds of use cases discussed but in many, the volumes of transactions are so high (thousands per second on Spotify) blockchain is completely inappropriate. That's the first hurdle. The bigger problem is that it causes friction - sometimes insurmountable friction - where today's arrangement works OK.

This was written in 2015 and still holds up well:


"Music benefits from a kind of semi-formality, where we can freely move audio files around between devices and platforms, some of which are part of the tracked and royalty bearing infrastructure and some not. Ensuring that the many stakeholders in a single audio file had given permission and were compensated at the point of each transfer would add massive cost and inefficiency."

And that's just music. I heard of one case for fine art (low transactions, high value) where it is plausible. Just. But auctions don't have a trust issue: they're a case where buyer and seller can both be anonymous, and the system works today. Blockchain doesn't solve the authenticity problem just by recording the transaction.

UK.gov should spend more on AI, bleat VCs and consultants. Oh? Why's that then?

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: Disappointed

Of course. Most of Dmitrey’s ten minute slot was devoted to blockchain and life extension. He invests in both.

Huawei Mate 20 series: China's best phone, but a pricey proposition

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

"Leica" not Zeiss.

AI's next battlefield is literally the battlefield: In 20 years, bots will fight our wars – Army boffin

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

The Wizard of Boston

Impressive, yes. Less so when you realise it's remote controlled. Boston do amazing prosthetics, but they don't do autonomous. So really it's a drone with limbs.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain with a laptop.

Does Google make hardware just so nobody buys it?

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: you can't make a Veblen good out of a dumb computer terminal

A typical dumb computer terminal is a "green screen". Since the device has a very powerful chip, which is capable of performing most of the work locally, I would say No, Arthur - you are being silly.


Spoiler alert: Google's would-be iPhone killer Pixel 3 – so many leaks

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

"OnePlus is tracking users ... grabbing data"

You're on Android. Complaining about an OEM slurping your personal data is like complaining about damp patches from under a capsized boat.

Anon man suing Google wants crim conviction to be forgotten

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: Right to be forgotten

"I don't quite understand is what Google et al are realistically meant to do in order to pre-emptively filter out results, or why they should do so at all. The responsibility surely lies with the people publishing the information"

Yes. That'll be Google. The CJEU had to balance two fundamental rights (privacy, free expression) and in Gonzalez v Google Sp. (2014) determined that Google was effectively publishing (and republishing) private information continually. Google had argued that it was that it was an offshore data processing business, and was not therefore subject to EU privacy rules. The actual computation took place somewhere else, outside the EU. This was rejected.

Of course the publishers have a responsibility and we receive such requests regularly. I'm struggling to see the logic in 2018 that because one publisher takes responsibility, another Google doesn't have to take any at all. Google continually filters Search. That argument has long gone. Is that what you meant?

Samsung Galaxy Note 9: A steep price to pay

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: Have they got Andrew locked in a bunker?

Samsung would have objected if I'd waltzed off down The Strand with pockets full of unreleased Note 9s. Which would have been pointless anyway, as it was very dark outside.

Vitamin D is always a good idea in an English summer - even one like this.

LG G7 ThinkQ: Ropey AI, but a feast for sore eyes and ears

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: May we please stop calling them phones?

I always mention telephony - it's a golden rule. And I did right here. Every phone is tested on 2+ networks in the nastiest notspots I can find.

(And given more time and resources, I'd devote pages to signal and audio quality and do proper testing. It's what many of you want. )

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: much larger resonance chamber

Exactly. Which is why I wrote:

"For the superior audio you'll need accessories, and in the case of HiRes audio, decent accessories."

The perils of skim reading, eh?

Euro privacy watchdog raises eyebrows at mulled EU copyright law

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: The biggest corporation of all is actually...

"These aren't little two-people-in-a-shed companies "

Actually, most are. You need to visit more record labels. Many would be glad to have an actual shed.

It was small independent labels who got a worse deal than big labels, because when you have dominant market power you can screw the little guy harder:



And if you are a dominant player dealing with a DIY artist, who is her own label and publisher, you can completely grind them into the ground:


So that was the background which persuaded the European Commission that there was an unfair playing field. Apple and Spotify supported the change - they don't enjoy the UGC loophole. Google has the filters but uses them as a competitive weapon.

Disclaimer: tweaking Article 13 would not be *my* preferred option when one dominant player is exploiting a unique advantage in one sector. That seems a classic case for a surgical strike using competition law. Google is abusing its monopoly position in video distribution. Nice, clean and simple. But objecting to the law because (the activist slogan this week) it helps entrench Google, or (the usual Chicken Little response from slacktivists) the sky might fall, doesn't help level the playing field.

BlackBerry KEY2: Remember buttons? Boy, does this phone sure have them

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

I ran out of time. It's coming

Dinosaurs permitted to mate: But what does AT&T Time merger mean for antitrust – and you?

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: "The US approach maximises consumer welfare"


It may do that as well, but "consumer welfare" is a technical term:


...which really means lower prices. The prevailing theory in US antitrust is that if prices are lower, then everyone's a happy bunny.

Xiaomi the way: Hyped Chinese giant begins its battle for Britain

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

I think you mean the Fleetwood Mac song:

"I Want You To Xiaomi Huawei"

h/t: Thomas Newton for that one.

No top-ups, please, I'm a millennial: Lightweight yoof shunning booze like never before

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

There's nothing wrong with being a fool when you're young - you're growing up.

If you're still doing it when you're 40, you're probably a barrister.

Google Pixel 2 XL: Like paying Apple-tier prices then saying, hey, please help yourself to my data

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

" I like to look back at my location history when I'm filling out mileage claims (or just waking up from a GREAT weekend)"

Slight GLITCH in the Matrix there, I reckons.

Petty PETA rapped by judges over monkey selfie copyright stunt

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: No Slater did not intentionally set it up.

Very little of that is correct. The US Copyright Office clarified that animals can't own copyright. It didn't need to go any further. This was stated in the third Compendium of US Copyright Office Practices which was being updated at the time.

"There was no 'setup' or placement or intention for the equipment to be used by passing animals"

The fact that Slater had gone to Indonesia for the purpose of taking photos of monkeys, and a photo was taken using his equipment laid out for the purpose of er, taking photos, is quite sufficient. Most TV wildlife footage falls into this category: it is activated by the non-human subject. Victory for TechDirt/Wikimedia/PETA would have resulted in the BBC and others losing huge amounts of material. They were seriously worried at the time.

Let me know when the macaques have designed and built their own camera - then you may have an argument.

Motorola Z2 Force: This one's for the butterfingered Android lovers

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: Can I ask...

Is a Porter or an IPA OK? Prosecco is for stripping paint with, and lager is for catching snails.

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)
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Re: Fruit

I've been eating five haggis a day - wait. Does this not count?

Gemini: Vulture gives PDA some Linux lovin'

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: @Christian

"Isn't Psion a registered trademark or something? Some kind of protection to keep the real memories alive?"

Planet doesn't use the Psion brand or trademark anywhere.

"Sorry, but I find it seriously awkward that I hear no one ever mentioning once how this device managed to handle their appointments."

The Calendar app that Planet has created isn't ready to ship yet. Perhaps you'll hear more when it does. Until then, assume it handles appointments just like any Android handles appointments.

We put Huawei's P20 triple-lens snapper through its paces

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Those bananas are for blending then drinking, rather than eating, so I don't mind them being very ripe.

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Because the tin robin is quite partial to it.

Huawei joins Android elite with pricey, nocturnal 40MP flagship

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: *Points in disappointment*

The Notch is optional. You can turn it off, it then looks like a phone with a very thin top bezel, rather than a phone with a very very thin top bezel and a Notch. Puzzles me why so many phone makers want to introduce a Notch just to lose one very.

Facebook's inflection point: Now everyone knows this greedy mass surveillance operation for what it is

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: don't worry, our ads aren't as effective as we told you


Thanks - that's the most relevant comment of all in this debate. I've written a piece about this (predates this one), but we haven't run it yet.

Consider that most people block out ads (and many run ad-blockers), and that behavioural targeting is soooo good, I get targeted with Club18-30 holidays, while students get targeted with retirement ads from Saga. The whole business is borked - something Zuckerberg can't admit - or at least nowhere near as effective as he wants us to believe.

The 2016 Election was a freak result, but I think this might have had more to do with it:

https://edition.cnn.com/2016/10/05/politics/trump-clinton-debate-prep/index.html - in fact, have a look at Clinton's campaign schedule for the final month.

What a hang up: US big box biz Best Buy kicks Huawei to the curb

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: Huawei has no Brand Recognition


"phones, like for Samsung, are just a sideshow for Huawei, an attempt to get their name seen. They are all about networks and networking, the phone is just a marketing thing."

Consumer devices (mostly phones) brought in $30-35 billion for Huawei last year (yes, billion).

Quite "a marketing thing".

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: Chinese government

"Huawei was set up by, and is currently led by ..."

I am struggling to find a single fact in your comment that is correct.

Tim Berners-Lee says regulation of the web may be needed

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)



Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

"Put somebody who doesn't understand tech in charge of it."

Like Tim Berners Lee?

Info Commissioner tears into Google's 'call us journalists' trial defence

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

This is a very interesting and important point AC, but by "this avenue is not available for common people" I presume you mean the High Court not the ICO process, which is free to use.

RTBF is a tool for people who are not famous, are not public figures, and can't afford Hugh Tomlinson QC.

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: Key Point

"The case hinges on whether a random search is basic journalism requiring reasonable judgement about the reliability of the information, relevance, importance, etc to the final result."

It should do, as this is a sensible description. But the UK Courts have already established that journalism may mean distribution of documents written by others, and this is what Google is arguing it does.

Spotify wants to go public but can't find Ed Sheeran (to pay him)

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)


"It's inconceivable that music industry execs have decided to get in bed with other middle men to extend their perpetual shafting of the artists"

Only to a moron who didn't RTFA, but as usual, your hatred of the writer has clouded your ability to read or think clearly.

The majors have large equity stakes in Spotify, and will profit hugely from the IPO. As much as $3.39 billion. So the incentives for the majors has been: keep quiet, then cut and run, rather than develop the digital music market for the long term.

It's all in there. You only have to read, but you prefer to make a clot of yourself.

We should pass laws to make Google's life hard! Oh no, sorry, did we say that out loud? asks IBM

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

"Basically, technology old-timer IBM doesn't exactly mind seeing laws passed that make it harder for Google and other internet whippersnappers to rake in money."

I'm intrigued by this. How is Google inconvenienced by a law on sex trafficking. Is Google actually a sex trafficker? Similarly with political ads, and checking where they come from - this should not be onerous.

If being obliged to act ethically is an inconvenience, we need new Googles. These ones aren't worth defending.




Congress told Google "don't you dare pull a SOPA on this." Instead it sends its grumbles through EFF and other client organisations, but that's all it can do now. Grumble.

The Gemini pocket PC is shipping and we've got one. This is what it's like

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)


To make a call you start the Phone app (it's on the Dock) or hit Fn-Esc. You can then close the lid and carry on talking. It doesn't matter which way up you hold it, as there are two mics, and it works out which one is nearest your gob.

I would like to have tested this of course, but the SIM slot isn't working. If you have a wrist-jobbie that gives you alerts, it becomes feasible to replace a regular phone.

The Register Lecture: AI turning on us? Let's talk existential risk

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

I wish I could understand a word of that.

But I have a feeling I need to improve my “pose estimation”.

Skynet it ain't: Deep learning will not evolve into true AI, says boffin

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: "range"?

You must be new here, Doug.



But thanks!

Huawei's Honor 9: The only mobe of its spec asking 'why blow £500?'

Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

Re: Apologies to hijack this thread...

"Throw it into the bottom of your laptop bag, bung a load of stuff on top and see how good the tough outside case really is."

Exactly. Or a child's backpack.