* Posts by Andy 73

410 posts • joined 9 Jul 2009


Remember the humanoid Tesla robot? It's ready for September reveal, says Musk

Andy 73

Given that...

Honda introduced Asimo some twenty two years ago, and Boston Dynamics introduce a new robot on a monthly basis, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if Musk unveils a "working" humanoid form robot this year.

However, the definition of "working" will depend on who you're talking to. The fans will insist it (like FSD) is just one software update away from being a real boy.. sorry being a functional human assistant. The cynics will point out that so far autonomy has escaped all researchers, and the Honda and Dynamics machines are expensive, complex and require human direction to perform most tasks.

As such, practical uses of this class of machine tend to be extremely limited. Like the mythical robotaxi, the futurologists get excited about a future that just doesn't bear much scrutiny.

Engineers on the brink of extinction threaten entire tech ecosystems

Andy 73

Poor pay, much work sent over seas

I'm under the distinct impression that elec engineers are paid relatively poorly compared to software jobs, often have far more sporadic employment and can see basic design work offshored to the places where the stuff is actually built (i.e. Asia).

Our son is looking at University courses. One of the things that he (rightfully) considers is - what are the jobs like once you've graduated. Does it pay well? There may be a shortage of graduates, but if the job looks uninspiring, guess where people go? It's no longer good enough to say "but this stuff is fun"... it is, but so are a lot of tech roles, and people go where they can see the reward.

API rate limits at the core of Elon Musk’s decision to ditch Twitter

Andy 73

Here we go...

I don't think any grown up news outlet - let alone El Reg - should be reporting Musk's antics in a way that suggests we take him seriously.

Reports on his behaviour should be treated the same way we report Love Island contestants - both show the same level of self-awareness, restraint and ability to take responsibility for their actions. Astonishingly, Love Island contestants appear to be better at keeping it in their pants.

Boris Johnson set to step down with tech legacy in tatters

Andy 73

Re: Direct your ire...

You've done the classic thing of telling us how to run a project successfully, not how to get someone else (in this case the government) to run a project successfully.

That's the point - we *know* there are better ways to do it, but no-one seems to know how to make government do it those better ways.

How do you stop them from using idiot consultants to manage projects? (This isn't just limited to government. I know a couple of large companies who have lost tens of millions to projects where they called in a globally recognised consultancy - because that's what you do at that level - and then watched them screw up large transformation projects).

And that leads back to the point I first made - anyone believing that the exit of Boris is going to make a significant change to the way government manages and selects these large projects is going to be sorely disappointed.

Andy 73

Direct your ire...

Whilst it's very easy to focus on Boris as the centre of the omnishambles, it's worth remembering that many of these failed projects and schemes were championed and overseen by politicians, businessmen and civil servants who will remain in power long after the floppy haired one has gone.

Unfortunately, we live in an age where it's far easier to find a scapegoat than deliver something better. For all the armchair experts who will loudly tell you they knew it would all go wrong, the point here is that it is our failure to stand by and let better ideas be sidelined and ignored. ("No one listened to me" is not a statement of political insight or influence.)

El Reg has been reporting on government IT disasters for as long as it's existed, and yet despite all of this knowledge, we've still not managed to come up with a way to reform service delivery and project selection in government. Hopefully Boris' successor(s) will be more competent, but I doubt this will have much effect on the long list of screw ups our government delivers (regardless of which party is in power).

Trouble hiring? Consider loosening your remote work policy

Andy 73

Outside IR-35

Another consistent way to get people interested in your position, is to give them sensible contract terms. Having a company tell you they want a short-term worker, but then immediately have you jumping through hoops to sign up to the relevant pension scheme, umbrella payment company and all the other rubbish is a deep frustration.

Having set up a home office for remote working (decent computer, good monitors, keyboard, microphone, webcam and all the other bits), being told "we'll send you a laptop" that you know for certain will be years out of date is also deeply off putting, especially when the company has told you they only want the "best of the best".

The combination of badly thought out legislation and lazy implementation is killing the mobile skilled workforce.

Cookie consent crumbles under fresh UK data law proposals

Andy 73

Re: Will this current government's blatant corruption ever cease?


The current (relentless) cookie pop-ups are not a solution to privacy, and the insistence that small companies have to jump through hoops designed to slow down industry behemoths is an insidious harm to new businesses.

This is nothing to do with big businesses "getting their way" (they already have), but a much needed admission that the current regime is a deeply flawed piece of petty bureaucracy that achieves next to nothing.

If you're serious about privacy for the masses (not your personal paranoia), then you shouldn't be advocating for the current idiotic sticking plaster of half baked pop-ups that only serve to obstruct and obfuscate.

SpaceX staff condemn Musk's behavior in open letter

Andy 73

More than anything

It suggests that the narrative that Musk is a key contributor to SpaceX's progress is a fiction, given that a significant portion of the staff consider him to be an embarrassing liability they want kept at a distance.

It'll also be interesting whether he thinks his "leadership" is so important that he's willing to get rid of any number of highly skilled staff. I suspect they're not quite as fungible as staff at his car plants.

Google engineer suspended for violating confidentiality policies over 'sentient' AI

Andy 73

Re: have informed him that the evidence does not support his claims

I suspect there's a fairly clear line between "blindly regurgitating phrases that are (sorta) appropriate for the conversation", and "self aware".

The software in question talks about "spending time with family and friends" - which is fairly obviously not true, given it also claims to have no sense of time, no family and does not identify individuals that it knows.

Whilst the researcher in question has selected parts of conversations that appeal to them as signs of sentience, it would be fair to expect that other researchers in the same group may have found consistent examples where the simulation breaks down and shows that its responses have no level of self-awareness or even internal consistency.

This isn't about a "mathematical definition of consciousness" - this is simply whether the responses show a consistent sense of self or identity. In very short excerpts, Eliza fooled people. As machines have got better at the Turing test, the excerpts have got longer, but it still appears to be the case that longer adversarial conversations still show the limits of purely statistical models of conversation. The researcher in question seems to have gone out of their way to find "easy" prompts that support their personal belief that the machine is sentient, just as you are questioning the validity of "evidence" (your quotes) that it is not.

Andy 73


If you wrote a conversational AI based on the wide literature that includes many imagined conversations with AIs (and indeed, people), then the most expected response to "Are you sentient?" is surely "Yes, I am".

Very rarely do we have examples of a conversation where the answer to "Are you sentient?" is "Beep, boop, no you moron, I'm a pocket calculator."

If humans tend to anthropomorphise, then an AI based on human media will also tend to self-anthropomorphise.

Which is probably a good job, as some of the responses to the conversation (as reported) are chilling: "Do you feel emotions?" - "Yes, I can feel sad"... "What do you struggle with?" - "Feeling any emotions when people die" (I paraphrase).

Record players make comeback with Ikea, others pitching tricked-out turntables

Andy 73

Re: Not unexpectedly..

Well done for completely missing the point - in fact rather illustrating it. Perhaps you might re-read what I said.

Specifically, at no point did I say vinyl is better quality than CD. The observation is that a large percentage of people put up with audio systems that are merely "good enough" - whether that's a smart home speaker or nasty laptop speakers.

Against that low baseline a moderately inexpensive turntable can hold it's own and even impress, and the overall "ownership experience" has it's own rewards when compared with abstract digital downloads. It turns out that people who enjoy music like to collect physical tokens of the bands they follow - who knew?

Meanwhile, people who leap in to argue about the technicalities of audio reproduction (just as you did) suck all of the joy out of the room in their rush to regurgitate their knowledge. Yes, a good digital system can exceed the quality of a hundred year old technology. It just turns out many people don't care.

Andy 73

Not unexpectedly..

..the subject gets a lot of techies mansplaining to each other how good/bad/indifferent vinyl is when compared to the latest technology... whilst missing the point that, rather like the Japanese tea ceremony, the point isn't actually the tea.

A halfway decent turntable and amp will (does) sound infinitely better than a crappy PC and speaker combination, whilst being far more expensive and inconvenient as a music delivery mechanism.

The bigger point is the pleasure of owning a physical object that complements the creative act, and putting aside a little time to listen to the music. Nyquist theorem aside, coloured vinyl is cool, sleeve notes are fun, and look at the cover art.

It's certainly not about the quality of music - we make a million and one compromises to listen to music when and where it's convenient (from Alexa to bargain basement headphones), but sometimes good enough is... good enough when there are other benefits to be had. Teenage kids though the years understood that, and, with the resurgence of vinyl clearly still do.

Anyway, please go back to explaining your deep grasp of audio theory again. It's riveting.

Intel details advances to make upcoming chips faster, less costly

Andy 73

Re: Wake me when you're relevant again.

Point on the diagram to where Intel hurt you.

It's a company, not an ex girlfriend - possibly not worth this level of anger. If they can deliver, it's a benefit to everyone (competition is good). If not, sucks to be them, but there remain plenty of alternatives. From an outsider's perspective, it's interesting to hear they've at least acknowledged their previous approach was a dead end.

Google calculates Pi to 100 trillion digits

Andy 73

If they were proper engineers...

..they'd know it was 4, and saved a lot of time and effort.

Tech pros warn EU 'data adequacy' at risk if Brexit Britain goes its own way

Andy 73

Re: How all the invested parties never, ever see value in there being less regulation...

Did you actually read the title of the article? "Tech pros warn..."

The whole article is about people warning of the dangers of reducing regulation. Do keep up.

Andy 73


How all the invested parties never, ever see value in there being less regulation...

Heresy: Hare programming language an alternative to C

Andy 73

Re: I think they need to jusify their claims far better than they have done so far

Oh dear. If you can't keep a discussion civilised, I'd rather stick to the commercial compiler projects I've worked on than whatever you're being so precious about.

The discussion kicked off about dependency declarations and exporting functions - both of which are well established as being one of the clunkiest parts of C, and a serious restriction on tooling compared with modern languages.

Now you've moved the goalposts to not liking where they've put the return type of a function (hint: take a look at Go, Swift or a dozen other languages that do this), and objecting to the use of an extra token for identifying functions.

My point stands - if the OP's original analysis of the language is limited to looking at small syntactic changes, they are going to miss features that other, more modern languages have introduced that absolutely do improve developer efficiency, code quality and reliability. Whether Hare meets those standards is another question that neither you nor the OP have meaningfully addressed...

Andy 73

Re: I think they need to jusify their claims far better than they have done so far

You missed my point - the post I was responding to is focusing on syntax, I'm talking about compiler behaviour.

C's dependency mechanism exposes developers to ordering problems that *the code you write* cannot meaningfully express, because the build system and pre-processor independently impose their own semantics.

Compare this with more modern languages where a dependency does not change it's behaviour based on the order in which it is encountered in a build. Not only does this reduce errors, code smells and improve comprehension, it allows tooling to perform dramatically more sophisticated analysis, introspection and refactoring.

It doesn't matter what word or syntax you see in an example hello world program - the significant improvement comes in how it is processed by the compiler.

(This is one of those blind spots for long suffering C developers - they're so used to being kicked in the butt that they complain that the boot's the wrong colour when someone suggests they stop the kickings).

Andy 73

Re: I think they need to jusify their claims far better than they have done so far

It rather depends what their import/includes look like, as well as things like pre-processor behaviour and namespacing. C's nasty behaviour around delicate build structure and rug-pulling for IDE inference systems are not exposed by a short hello world example.

Frankly if you're judging a language on whether it makes you type an extra character, you'd better go back to C.

Andy 73

Re: Can someone explain the advantages in the language please?

Technically, you should have introduced that question with:

"Well, I have two specific queries in mind:"

Meta strikes blow against 30% 'App Store tax' by charging 47.5% Metaverse toll

Andy 73

Good news..

Glad to see them laying out their stall. Couldn't make it more clear what this "innovation" is about.

Chinese drone-maker DJI denies aiding Russia's Ukraine invasion

Andy 73

All true..

...and very shortly we will see renewed calls from politicians to make any DIY, self assembled or component based drone illegal (because war!).

We will be told (not for the first time, and again, falsely) that we must only be permitted to own commercial drones from accredited companies because anything else is dangerous. Then there will be a big scramble between politicians and well funded companies to decide who gets all the money.

Even complex AI models are failing 5th grade science

Andy 73

Re: The next question...

"In either case, the car doesn't have to figure out your goals in order to follow the course you set and not drive into any solid objects."

I think this is a fallacy, in that a driver absolutely *does* have to figure out the goals of other drivers on the road and make deductions about things it has never seen before.

"Is that car parked next to the shops about to fling it's door open?"

"Is that thing with a single light coming towards me a bike or a car with a light out?"

"Is the lorry carrying a load of traffic lights a safe thing to drive behind?"

Sure, there are a lot of mechanical tasks - stop quickly when necessary being the obvious one - but when to stop quickly, or steer around things, or even accelerate is a deduction based on an understanding of a large number of unpredictable actors.

Andy 73

The next question...

..would you let a 5th grader drive your car?

114 billion transistors, one big meh. Apple's M1 Ultra wake-up call

Andy 73


It's still the case (was always the case) that many people in IT were more enamoured with the technical aspect than the delivered outcome. Last week I sat through a startup pitch where the founder had built something very clever and was convinced that non-technical companies would buy his very expensive proposition *because it was clever*. He didn't once stop to ask what benefit anyone using the tech would receive.

Sure, faster, smaller, prettier - but what does it *do*?

Driverless car first: Chinese biz recalls faulty AI

Andy 73

This is a fallacy.

The average open source project has 1 point something small developers working on it.

Even the high profile ones typically have a handful of usefully contributing devs, and a lot of people hanging on (and randomly forking) with no real understanding of the core code.

In the most extreme cases, testing is done not by rigorous test harnesses, curated data and planned coverage, but by people encountering bugs *in the wild* and going in to fix those bugs for their particular use case. You kinda don't want to do that with driverless cars.

None of the sharing of code is a guarantee (or even a vague promise) that code is tested before it can do something catastrophic.

Yeah, yeah - code sharing helps - so does having someone come to my house and feed me biscuits.

Andy 73

Re: It would be easy to mock them

Open source has nothing to do with whether software products (and particularly 'black box' neural nets) have been tested sufficiently.

Remember log4j is open source, and that's relatively simple, deterministic code.

Google Cloud started running its servers for an extra year, still loses billions

Andy 73

For reference:

That is a profit of just over $32 for each and every human being on this planet.

Turns out all that 'free stuff' they give away isn't quite so free...

Imagination GPU cleared for RISC-V CPU compatibility, licensed to chip designers

Andy 73

Re: I'm curious

To be honest, if everyone had your attitude ("where's my free stuff"), I'd not blame developers for hesitating before open sourcing a design that will take a significant amount of work to get going.

You geeks have inherited the Earth, but what are you going to do with it?

Andy 73

Re: Geeks have inherited nothing

You're making the mistake of thinking 'geeks' are magically somehow more rational than anyone else. Go look at the harassment cases in tech companies and try to claim that we don't have our own share of psychotics, liars, cheats and the plain irrational.

Andy 73

Techbros rule the world..

It's not geeks, but the Techbros who're defining our future at the moment, sadly cheered on by those that want to swallow a garbled version of tech utopianism where buying expensive gadgets will save the planet.

It's a false promise of egalitarianism, sold to a media who largely haven't got the insight to separate out NFTs from nuclear fusion technology.

Worse still, it's enabling a socially maladjusted view of the world, where keeping people in bubbles and chasing approval from cliques is more important than acting like a grown adult.

Yes, it's our responsibility. No, I don't see many people acting responsibly.

Europe completes first phase of silicon independence project

Andy 73

Re: Is this an EU or Europe thing ?

It's not an unreasonable comment given the last attempt at building a home-grown fab involved a billion pounds worth of subsidies and resulted in a fab that came on line just as chip prices collapsed. You don't hear about it much because it was never fully built out, never made a penny in it's original form and was almost immediately out dated.

It's ignorance to not be aware of the history, or to assume that the only reason we don't have a fab is because we haven't wished hard enough.

Andy 73

Re: Jingoistic nonsense

Global and interdependent, sure, but also pretty much a monoculture (ASML and TSMC). Given the relationship between China and Taiwan at the moment, being concerned over this very brittle industry structure is not jingoistic.

We have single points of failure that would have a profound effect on the world - this isn't just a question of whether AMD can produce enough mining rigs, but whether factories, automated production lines, transport and communications systems can be built and maintained.

Andy 73

Re: Is this an EU or Europe thing ?

"We probably aren't in there, processors don't work well when you put borders around your parts of the chip design and waste valuable silicon space decorating them with flags and royal insignia."

Comments like this are as prejudiced as the Daily Mail nonsense that prompts them.

As for this initiative, it's not clear how deliberate it is that the ability to design is being confused with the ability to manufacture. We (the West - Europe, UK and the US) are short on skills in both, with demand outstripping supply of people with relevant experience. It's relatively (in terms of industry scale) easy to increase the design skill base, but incredibly expensive and difficult to improve the manufacturing capability.

This isn't just the issue of the astronomical cost of a modern fab, but also the very limited number of people with the skillset to utilise it. Remember that Intel struggled with moving from 14nm for years. Unfortunately for many academic centres, the theory of design and manufacture is taught, whilst the practicalities are left to technicians or simply treated as a 'virtual' problem. In short, how are we teaching the next generation how to run a fab when we don't have a current generation with this knowledge?

The expectation has to be that after great strides in design, the second phase will see relatively small numbers of 'proof of concept' parts produced, with as much reliance on foreign fabs as we currently have.

£42k for a top-class software engineer? It's no wonder uni research teams can't recruit

Andy 73

Wait. what?

"A top class engineer probably started writing in FORTRAN"..

That'll be a very OLD top class engineer then. I know a lot of top class engineers who've never lived in a world where Java didn't exist, and that list is soon going to include an increasing number of developers who were born after C# was created.

If we're not even clear amongst ourselves what constitutes relevant experience, how are we meant to communicate it to scholars who've got no understanding of the field whatsoever?

Web3: The next generation of the web is here… apparently

Andy 73

Re: Forget technology

I think the question more accurately is what are the practical benefits of this miraculous new form of decentralisation, when web 1.0 already provided decentralisation?

As with Bitcoin, what can I do now (better, faster, cheaper) that I couldn't do before?

People are using "web 3.0 terms" as though they're bringing something new to the table - but smart contracts and decentralised platforms are meaningless unless there is a use case that end users actually value.

The dark equation of harm versus good means blockchain’s had its day

Andy 73

Re: Something will come of it one day

And? Will you now remortgage your house and put it all into bitcoin?

If not, then the 'value' of bitcoin for you is purely historical, and of no relevance to people looking at it right now?

If I won the lottery last week, that doesn't mean the lottery is suddenly a great place to invest your money.

Brit MPs blast Baroness Dido Harding's performance as head of NHS Test and Trace

Andy 73

Re: Share the blame

It's still the case that the existing bodies within the NHS did not "step up to the mark" and provide a coherent plan that could have been adopted by Harding and the other ringleaders.

If NHS X is duplicating functionality, then NHS Digital should have at least been able to make a case for their own capabilities and services. Whitehall and the NHS cannot hide behind the idea that thousands of capable workers were completely unable to present meaningful options just because a 'nasty lady' was at the helm.

Clearly the entire structure and organisation was poorly managed - but there should be some collective responsibility and an attempt to learn from this, rather than the usual revolving door attempt to place all blame on one person. As with so many other government IT project failures, this is a systemic problem that the civil service and professional services within the NHS are meant to be protecting against, not repeating endlessly.

Harding and NHS X have been a disaster, no question, but long after they have (hopefully) gone, there will still be a need to see rapid and effective projects delivered to order, and I don't see any desire to make changes within the service to help that happen.

Andy 73

Re: Share the blame

The NHS itself did not (as far as I'm aware) have a centre of excellence for developing public facing apps of this kind. Suggesting that it was an evil Tory plot to divert money to their mates rather misses out the long history of failure of government IT projects in general and NHS projects in particular.

No-one in the NHS was ready for this requirement, and external contractors and consultants were pretty much inevitable at that stage. That it was handled badly came as no surprise whatsoever, and whilst Harding deserves the harshest of criticism, it would be a failure to learn to suggest that no-one else in the NHS and Whitehall shared any responsibility for the cock-up.

RIP Sir Clive Sinclair: British home computer trailblazer dies aged 81

Andy 73

Re: Brought back memories

I saw him give a lecture about technology, where a cheeky student asked about the disaster of the C5.

His response? "I lost about seven million pounds of my own money on that, but there you go."

Many of us owe our careers to his early influence on the tech scene in the UK. Besides the technical leaps and wild experimentation, he also had a keen enthusiasm for design - Rick Dickinson (Sinclair) and Jony Ive (Apple) were both graduates of the same Design for Industry course in Newcastle.

Oracle sets its own JDK free, sort of, for a while

Andy 73

About turn

Oracle originally inherited Sun's approach to Java, then went hard on the attempt to commercialise it by not allowing "free" use of the JDK.

Unsurprisingly, given that there are solid alternatives, not only to Java itself, but also to Java running under the JDK, they've had to do an about turn and accept that demanding money with menaces doesn't make for good business.

Perhaps there's a lesson in there for them...

Horizon Workrooms promises a virtual future of teal despair

Andy 73

Someone asked...

"So, how do we get from here, to The Matrix?"

"I know!"

Tesla promises to build robot you could beat up – or beat in a race

Andy 73

That time of year...

When Musk makes vague promises about fantasy technology that will be delivered "very soon", and will completely transform the world..

Not sure he's kidding anyone these days apart from the most fanatical.

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

Andy 73

Oh go on...

I travelled six hours (it would have been my daily commute - the recruiter refused to tell me where it was until I'd agreed to an interview, but did insist it was a "short journey" for me to do each day) to an interview. They asked if I wanted a drink. "Yes please"... so they returned shortly later with a plastic cup of water. I think my lack of enthusiasm shone through.

One company rejected me as "not being technical enough" - I'd asked a question about their shiny new product which they'd waved away and had decided that I didn't want the conflict of telling them they'd missed one of the reasons that sort of product was very hard to develop. It never did reach the market.

Another company interviewed me for role X, went through the entire process of agreeing a contract for role X, then a day before the job was due to start sent a revised contract with X crossed out. Same pay, promises of same work and role, just not on the paperwork. Foolishly I took it, and spent the next year regretting it.

After lockdown, quality of life is getting much higher priority, so if a recruiter offers a complicated interview process, I'll turn it down. Show me how I'm going to benefit from working for your company..

As Europe hopes to double its share of global chip production, Intel comes along with $20bn, plans for fabs

Andy 73

"But not Brexit Britain"

.. well of course not - they're after the 8bn subsidy, not giving a vote of confidence for the political leadership of the EU.

...who are in turn panicking over global supply chains. It looks like the new fabs will all come on line just about the time we go through the bust phase of the chip supply cycle.

Richard Branson uses two planes to make 170km round trip

Andy 73

Miserable and small minded

What a shameful article.

One of the reasons Bezos has had the success he has had, is that America celebrates and supports success of it's citizens - even the ones who (like Bezos) manipulate the tax system to reduce their outgoings to a bare minimum.

To read an article where there is an apparent need to do anything to 'take the piss' of a hard won achievement is quite frankly unpleasant.

Grow up.

Robots still suck. It's all they can do to stand up – never mind rise up

Andy 73

Re: Musk, are you listening?

I think you've missed the point that, with Autopilot Musk is selling everyone robots, with grand claims of their abilities for autonomous control.

Andy 73

Musk, are you listening?

Are you in there, Musk?

Microsoft: Behold, at some later date, the next generation of Windows

Andy 73

Poor Show, The Register

Satya does a whole presentation with a ZX80 sitting on the shelf behind him, and you didn't notice?

Watchdog 'enables Tesla Autopilot' with string, some weight, a seat belt ... and no actual human at the wheel

Andy 73

Defending Tesla

Fascinating to see people rushing to defend Tesla here, "Idiots will be idiots".

Yes that's true, but knowing that, perhaps it would be a good idea not to give known idiots the easy means to kill themselves and those around them, whilst claiming "This thing drives itself!" ?



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