* Posts by Richard 12

4166 posts • joined 16 Jun 2009

Cryptocurrency world must protect itself from 'low-quality patents' says Square lawyer as biz joins Open Invention Network

Richard 12 Silver badge

It was sort of the original idea

The original idea was to give an inventor a state-protected monopoly for a time in return for publishing how their machine works.

Otherwise they would have no protection from a competitor reverse-engineering their machine and taking their market away.

It broke when the USPTO stopped doing their job and decided the courts should do it instead.

Linus Torvalds admits to 'self-inflicted damage' with -Werror as Linux 5.15 rc1 debuts

Richard 12 Silver badge

gcc Is right to warn you about unsigned >= 0.

Writing that implies you think it's signed, which leads to other mistakes.

Warnings in 3rd party libraries is why cmake (and other build systems) allow you to give subprojects (and their headers) different warnings levels.

Of course, the same technique also gives you some new footguns, which is nice...

Richard 12 Silver badge

The warnings aren't always bad code

That's why they're warnings, not errors.

What they're supposed to do is get you to look at the code, because it usually means somebody made a typo.

Eg a flow clause that has no effect or is constant is almost always a mistake.

What some people do is just turn off the warning.

We're terrified of sharing information, but the benefits of talking about IT and infosec outweigh the negatives

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: Commentards seem to miss the point..............

When a company kills your partner via an obviously unsafe working practice, prosecution doesn't restore them to life either.

Laws cannot ever un-do an event, they aren't time travel machines.

Safety equipment and safe methods of work aren't free, so companies do the minimum they think they can get away with. Making the cost of not doing something too high is basically the only way a government can force a corporation to do it.

The theory is that GDPR should make it too expensive for companies to collect unnecessary data or to ignore properly securing it.

In practice, it seems only Luxembourg and Germany are bothering to enforce GDPR. That's the actual problem.

Sort-of Epic win as judge kills Apple ban on apps linking to outside payment systems

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: Epic Greed

No, the judge did not say that, and there is another court case on that specific question.

Apple's media statement is highly misleading. No, I take that back - it's a lie.

Music festivals are back in the UK. So is the background bork

Richard 12 Silver badge

Each seat has its own Linux box

They're basically Chromecast-like things, providing a local UI and streaming from a NAS somewhere on the plane. It's almost always Linux now because that runs decently on really cheap underpowered ARM that has guaranteed long-term hardware availability.

When they reboot the system they reboot all the little boxes.

They can also reboot individual "screens" if just one or two are misbehaving.

Right to contest automated AI decision under review as part of UK government data protection consultation

Richard 12 Silver badge

Ending as a Vassal State of the USA

Or possibly Russia or China, it's hard to say for sure.

With a future UK government that has less ability to affect UK policy than (eg) Puerto Rico. Just do whatever they say.

Amazon says Elon Musk's wicked, wicked ways mean SpaceX's Starlink 2.0 should not be allowed to fly

Richard 12 Silver badge

And of course the VAT figure is irrelevant, because Amazon don't pay VAT. They collect on behalf of the Government.

So lumping that in is definitely at attempt to hide something.

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: Corporation Tax

Amazon haven't published any data on intercompany transfers, which means they could easily have decided Amazon UK Ltd have to rent the Amazon name and AWS hosting from Amazon Tax Haven Ltd for a figure that mysteriously matches the profit they would otherwise have made.

Not saying they did, but they haven't published anything showing how they came up with their pre-tax profit figure

Can WhatsApp moderators really read your encrypted texts? Yes ... if you forward them to the abuse dept

Richard 12 Silver badge

Well, obviously?

For a start it's a touch keyboard, so the keyboard itself could be compromised.

There have been well publicised incidents where the endpoint was compromised to monitor messages sent and received by that endpoint passing them on elsewhere.

One thing that is not clear is what is actually sent when you make an abuse report. Are you giving them the last five messages, last five days, back to the dawn of time, or even access to future messages?

Eg if it sends the key then your report effectively contains everything, both past and future.

Why we abandoned open source: LiveCode CEO on retreat despite successful kickstarter

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: Jumping To Conclusions

And that's why it's dead.

If it was a RAD wrapper around a "real" language then it might have a future, because they'd be spending all their effort on making the RAD easier to use and directly supporting more concepts. Plus users would be able to write their own extensions using the same language - thus creating the possibility of an actual community around it.

Instead, their effort is split between writing the RAD, the language constructs, runtime and compiler. Thus all suffer, as each of those is a very large job.

Richard 12 Silver badge

Or Logo and play with a turtle.

Technically, Logo was the first language I was "officially" taught. I learned BASIC on my own.

Frankly, this company is already dead. It's all over bar the shouting. The moment one group of schools start asking why they're paying that £X/pcm, they'll all switch to something else and poof, dead.

There are a lot of "toy" languages used to teach core programming techniques, some are better for absolute beginners, others have a higher initial step but much longer useful life.

The GUI tends to be the differentiator. Really, it makes far more sense to build a good GUI teaching framework around a "real" language (Logo is Lisp!) and spend your effort on those visible tools, instead of inventing toy syntax and having kids quickly hit the limits of what's sanely achievable - and getting bored.

Only 'natural persons' can be recognized as patent inventors, not AI systems, US judge rules

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: Precedent set?

You aren't thinking.

What is the point of holding a patent if your owner has just torn off your head to fiddle with the bits inside?

Unless the "strong" AI (or alien) is declared a Natural Person, it has no protection whatsoever.

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: Precedent set?

The AI would need to be declared a Natural Person.

Which they would need anyway, as otherwise they would have no protection at all.

A patent isn't much use if you are owned by someone, especially when your owner can just turn you off or dismantle you for no particular reason - or worse, the company who write the software platform you run on can arbitrarily end your licence to exist upon it.

Branson (in a) pickle: FAA grounds Virgin Galactic flights after billionaire's space trip veered off course

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: And if they had aborted ...

TBH I don't blame the pilots for continuing. It's certainly plausible, nay, likely that it was the safest option.

Speed is life, altitude is life insurance and all that.

More likely, nobody properly considered non-optimal flight paths when filing the paperwork planning the flight.

Perseverance rover drilled a rock on Mars and probably snaffled a core sample

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: I'm willing to bet

No, it's going to stash the pack of sample tubes in an easily collected bucket, and leave the bucket partially-buried in a well-marked location.

The sample return mission simply has to land within a few km (but not too close!), then send out a small collection rover to pick up the bucket with its robot arm, and drive back to the landing site.

This part is well-proven, all been done before several times. The landing ellipse is quite small - Perseverance was well within its 7.7 x 6.6km ellipse.

Then it has to reach orbit and come back to Earth.

This part is difficult, but only in degree, not in kind.

Spring tears down math geek t-shirt listing because it dared to mention the trademarked word 'zeta'

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: Trademark should not have been granted

The whole premise is that Spring can't read or Affinity can't write, so I guess everyone is just jumping on board with that.

Richard 12 Silver badge

It kind of does

As it's a logical consequence of their approach of "approve everything and let the courts decide" coupled with the "sue it or lose it" principle.

It costs Spring nothing to deny on spurious grounds, but permitting something that breaches a bogus, inadmissible but nevertheless approved trademark costs them a lot to defend.

So yeah, it is the USPTO at fault.

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: "The Greek alphabet is currently protected legally"

Greek one's older

More cracks found in Russian annex of the International Space Station

Richard 12 Silver badge

It is an old module

At some point there will be the very hard decisions - whether to continue operating the ISS and replace some of the oldest modules, or dismantle it and build an entirely new station - perhaps re-using parts, perhaps not.

Or give up entirely, but I don't consider that to be an option.

I would assume that it's better to replace modules.

Trouble is of course that replacing the oldest modules means going via a state where the ISS is in two or more rather large and massive pieces.

Doing that without hitting anything or overstressing any joints may not be safely feasible - How big a lump can Canadarm2 safely move?

How to stop a content filter becoming a career-shortening network component

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: SquidGuard Logs

I'd draw a diagram, but this is a company phone.

NHS England's release of 'details' on access to Palantir COVID-19 data store: Good enough? We're in a 'dialogue' says national data watchdog

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: NHS Data skills

Delay just makes the cost rise to astronomical levels, and increases the risk of personal consequences for those involved - contempt of court is a real thing

Chinese developers protested insanely long work hours. Now the nation's courts agree

Richard 12 Silver badge

The rest of the world is rapidly approaching the same point. There are far more pensioners per worker in eg Europe than there have ever been before, and the ratio is getting worse.

If you're under 50, don't plan on ever retiring unless you are a politician, civil servant or "top" banker. You won't be able to afford to.

'Totally driven by supply': Dell, HP talk of backlogs and shortages as big PC-makers turn in their numbers

Richard 12 Silver badge

Their shares fell?

Surely the stock markets had already priced in these supply chain issues, as they've been well known for months.

Or are stock traders actually unable to do that, are no better than an RNG so should be paid the same.

Ah yes, plenty of research proving the latter.

When everyone else is on vacation, it's time to whip out the tiny screwdrivers

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: Two observations:

I've seen more than one that uses a mix 3mm of and 3.5mm lengths.

Presumably because they were contractually required to publish a disassembly manual but wanted to ensure nobody would ever actually use it.

After quietly switching to slower NAND in an NVMe SSD, Western Digital promises to be a bit louder next time

Richard 12 Silver badge

Revenue is ego, it doesn't mean anything

Profit is reality.

Their gross margin is 26% though, which is huge!

Why are they so desperate, when the published financials look like that?

Start or Please Stop? Power users mourn features lost in Windows 11 'simplification'

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: Basically all UI changes could be rolled back..

Win10 (finally) handles mixed-DPI screens, Win+Arrow snapping, and I like the taskbar-on-all-screens options.

Erm... think that's it. Can we roll back the rest?

To be honest I'd be reasonably happy with the new-style Settings/Control Panel if it was all there, but even now it kicks me into the old one half the time.

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: Eh...

I have several programs that I use once a month at most - expenses and the like.

I have NFC what they're actually called, because I hardly ever use them. Some of them have "real" names (as found by Search) that bear no resemblance to the task or the name in the titlebar when it's running.

I have a few where I've got multiple versions. I have to keep multiple versions because customers send me drawings and documents in those versions, and I can't force them to upgrade.

All the versions have the same name of course, they're just in a Start folder with the version.

I have several (dunno how many) where the Start link sets important command line options. I only know this because I had a peek - a normal user wouldn't have a clue

UK promises big data law shake-up... while also keeping the EU happy, of course. What could go wrong?

Richard 12 Silver badge


Cookie banners arendesigned to be annoying and as obnoxious as possible.

99% of them are probably illegal too, but it seems Germany is the only place trying to enforce the actual rules.

The ICO could end them in about a year if they took a few smaller places to court.

What's the top programming language? It's not JavaScript but Python, says IEEE survey

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: What about people just using the language, and not talking about it?

I see the shills are out. Le sigh.

If there's a Python IDE which you like and does that, please suggest it.

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: What about people just using the language, and not talking about it?

Yup. The indentation rules bite me every time I need to move code around.

I also haven't found a decent Python editor yet. Plenty of editors at the level of syntax-highlighter, but none doing the auto-complete and code navigation that prevent tyops and make it feasible to get up to speed with a large codebase.

Richard 12 Silver badge

By that measure, YAML wins hands-down

Most active Github projects have a few github actions defined, which are written in YAML therefore YAML is the most popular language on Github.

That's obviously wrong, but is basically the same reasoning. Python is now very popular for writing project build & packaging scripts as unlike bash, cmd or powershell you can use the same Python script on Windows, Linux and macOS, with only a small scattering of platform-specifics.

The actual project is written in something else, be that Java, C, C++, Rust, ECMAscript or whatever, but Python's in the repo so it gets counted anyway.

Samsung: We will remotely brick smart TVs looted from our warehouse

Richard 12 Silver badge

Most stolen TVs vanish from the back of vans - they have a box!

A modern TV is very large, very thin and very fragile. When installed in your home the box gets thrown away or hidden in the loft/cellar/cupboard of hiding.

A burglar isn't going to bother - it's not worth much without a box, and they'll probably obviously break it.

Richard 12 Silver badge

Maybe they can't?

Is it not more likely that this is part of the one-time setup of the device, where it checks for a firmware update when first connected to the Internet?

Perhaps there's a bug in the original firmware, where a malformed response to the "Here's my serial number, give me firmware" would brick it.

A TV that's already done one-time setup might never do it again, and they fixed the bug?

Sure, they most likely could add this "feature" to a future release - but like you and many others said, can't trust that, as it involves a rather large back-end and is so trivially exploited.

Gartner Gartner on the wall, which is the hypest cycle of them all?

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: Wonderment in words...

Who is paying them, anyway?

The spam I get promising "market infomations" is generally more accurate, and that gets (manually) tossed into the dumpster until the spam filter learns the patterns of the latest hype cycle.

Robots don't smoke, says Alibaba, and that's why they deliver parcels so fast

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: Conversely . . .

The PPR is the sorting machine, so your parcel will be just as mangled.

And possibly also run over, while the robot insists that it definitely delivered the parcel and it's not at fault that the box was both flat and empty.

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: Robots don't get lost

20 deliveries/day/robot is ridiculously low, too.

Pretty sure couriers do more than that in the morning, even with smoke breaks.

Another UK government limb that can't get IR35 right: Court service pays taxman £12.5m

Richard 12 Silver badge

Film directors, other top creatives and principal cast aren't substitutable, so does IR35 kill the entire UK film industry?

Family wrongly accused of uploading pedo material to Facebook – after US-EU date confusion in IP address log

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: International Standards Organization

I've been more places than you've had hot dinners, as they say.

20 US fluid ounces isn't a US pint. It's 20 US fluid ounces. Check with federal weights and measures.

It is however slightly larger than an Imperial pint. I'm undecided whether I like the extra 23ml or not.

Either way, 1 litre is definitely too much beer in one go.

Richard 12 Silver badge

All common languages store dates as objects

Usually it's "ticks since epoch".

The tick is usually days, seconds, or milliseconds, and the epoch... varies somewhat (though 1900-01-01 00:00:00.000 is common)

CSV is an undefined text format, so all data re-encoded as such is suspect, always misinterpreted and often mangled beyond recognition.

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: International Standards Organization

British pints, not those tiny US ones.

I'd rather have a half litre than a US pint.

More Boots on Moon delays: NASA stops work on SpaceX human landing system as Blue Origin lawsuit rolls on

Richard 12 Silver badge

BO's bid did not meet the basic requirements

They demanded to be paid in a way explicitly prohibited in the documents.

So NASA were contractually obliged to reject BO's bid anyway.

On top of that, the only thing they've actually got is an engine. It's a good engine, well designed and manufactured, supports multiple relights, throttles well and seems pretty reliable.

But an engine is not a rocket, as NASA well knows.

SpaceX were the only bidders who actually met the requirements.

Now, if Bezos was claiming the requirements were rigged, perhaps he'd have a case. But he's not.

Apple's bright idea for CSAM scanning could start 'persecution on a global basis' – 90+ civil rights groups

Richard 12 Silver badge

This is actively encouraging abuse

If such people think that they are very likely to be caught if they download "old" CSAM, then they will try to get - and create - new material.

The goal should be to prevent abuse, not to encourage more abuse.

Richard 12 Silver badge

It cannot protect anyone at all

Apple are proposing searching iDevices for known CSAM images.

Anyone abusing kids to create new images cannot be detected this way, by definition.

So one fairly obvious consequence is an increase in abuse as people try to create new, undetectable images by abusing more, new victims.

As a parent, that terrifies me.

So the data centre's 'getting a little hot' – at 57°C, that's quite the understatement

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: Two questions

Most likely not designed as a server room, so got the generic fire suppression kit.

It'll work just fine, the problem is any false trips due to broken aircon and similar will destroy all the very expensive kit in the room.

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: Speaking as a fire marshal

Through the water, yes.

It doesn't magically conduct up the stream or through the firefighter, it goes to the other battery terminal or the nearest piece of earthed metal which is of course inside the rack that's currently on fire- so who cares?

The battery may dump its energy by venting-with-flame, but as the place was already burning...

Firefighters do use water in building fires. They don't check whether the mains supply is off before they start, because they don't need to - the breakers are going to trip it off soon enough anyway.

Japan's aerospace agency hooks up with Boeing to make planes quieter when they land

Richard 12 Silver badge

Well, you are trying to slow down and descend, and all that energy has to go *somewhere*.

It's not practicable to use regenerative airbrakes just yet...

Apple didn't engage with the infosec world on CSAM scanning – so get used to a slow drip feed of revelations

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: Sounds like

That statement is either obvious bollocks, or an admission that they are intending to illegally unencrypt and process images uploaded to iCloud.

Mere possession of CSAM is illegal, other than as part of an ongoing criminal investigation by the police or criminal trial. Therefore Apple are immediately guilty the moment an unencrypted image exists on an Apple server, and their human is also guilty if it's sent to their device.

There is no defence in law - which is of course one of the really stupid things about those laws, but politicians always were incapable of considering consequences.

Starliner takes off ... back to the factory and not space

Richard 12 Silver badge

Re: make way for other national priority missions.

No, but there are several missions that have already booked a slot and would be Most Displeased if Boeing prevented them from flying on time.

Before I agree to let your app track me everywhere, I want something 'special' in return (winks)…

Richard 12 Silver badge

Toxic pearls

A small proportion of people are hate filled buckets of pus who just want to spatter over everyone they meet.

So it's absolutely certain that every community over a certain size has a few of them, and it generally takes a while before the admins bring out the banhammer.

So yeah, of course the Perl community has a few.

For an example of what happens when there is no moderator, look at Twitface.


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