* Posts by Andy 73

352 posts • joined 9 Jul 2009


Cabinet Office takes over control of UK government data: Mundane machinery or Machiavellian manoeuvrings?

Andy 73

You know you're in trouble..

..when Carole Cadwalladr is being sited as a news source. She is obsessed with conspiracy theories around the Referendum and the Tories.

Bill Gates debunks 'coronavirus vaccine is my 5G mind control microchip implant' conspiracy theory

Andy 73


Can someone with a good grasp of English go over this article and sort it out please?

All-electric plane makes first flight – while lugging 2 tons of batteries aloft

Andy 73

Not really new..

Yuneec (which at the time was 50% British owned) developed the E430 Commercial 2 seater aircraft eleven years ago. It won various awards but was sadly not developed further.


Author of infamous Google diversity manifesto drops lawsuit against web giant

Andy 73


In the rush to demonise him, a small portion of the internet are only serving to bolster cases like his.

Yes, of course his memo was supremely badly judged, sexist and all the rest - but the reaction to it shows all the characteristics of a purity spiral (go look it up). He's gone from being a socially maladjusted geek (hardly rare in this industry) to being a fascist sympathiser in just a handful of comments.

Ex-Imagination Technologies boss tells UK Foreign Affairs Committee: Britain needs to stop overseas asset stripping

Andy 73

Re: And who will pay ?

Companies don't *have* to be sold.

Andy 73

Security and stability

The recent pandemic has been a timely reminder that, even ignoring security, the last couple of decades' rush to globalisation has resulted in chains of production and ownership that are highly dependent on a status quo.

We saw this sudden awareness of structural risk emerge from the 2008 financial crisis - but didn't extend that awareness to physical production and intellectual property. We should be clear that the financial benefit of handing production and ownership offshore can result in structural risk and a long term weakening of our ability to compete, produce and innovate.

I'm doing this to stop humans ripping off brilliant ideas by computers and aliens, says guy unsuccessfully filing patents 'invented' by his AI

Andy 73

Lawyers will currently be pulling up their sleeves...

...they just need to convince USPTO to accept machine generated patent applications, write some dumb-ass software to mash together every word and phrase in the USPTO database, and hey presto, everything that could every be invented will be patented in one fell swoop.

"And pray that we find intelligent life in space/because there's bugger all down here on earth"

IBM Watson GPU cloud cluster Brexits from London to Frankfurt – because GDPR

Andy 73

Re: Genuinely...

Fascinated by the down votes on that first post. How many years have we been banging on about the infrastructure and processes needed to do stuff in the cloud?

Saying that we should be ready and able to do this by now, even for large systems, should not be controversial.

Andy 73

Re: Genuinely...

"Perhaps it's a lack of imagination on your part if you can't envision a scenario where complex long-running operations on petabytes of data might be tricky to move."

Been there, done that - nine petabytes of data moved. Sure, it wasn't a standard deployment cycle, but it was a thing we were prepared and able to do.

But note that the article specifically said "Customers do not need to move their data".

I can (and do) imagine far worse problems!

Andy 73


...if moving from one server to another is difficult for you in this day and age, you might need to think about your software practises.

Internet Archive opens National Emergency Library with unlimited lending of 1.4m books for stuck-at-home netizens amid virus pandemic

Andy 73

Current copyright terms ignored... the world keeps turning

It won't happen, but just imagine we take a dispassionate look at the amount of 'damage' done by making these books available, compared to the number of authors actually significantly affected by the decision.

It's timely that Tom Scott has done an excellent piece on copyright on YouTube, arguing for shorter terms for copyright so that society as a whole might benefit without materially affecting more than a handful of creators (the very, very rare exceptions who still benefit materially from their work over fifty years after they publish).

Unfortunately, a balanced call for moderation in these matters is drowned out by corporates who benefit from endless extension, and freeloaders who want to pretend that any copyright at all is unfair on consumers. Still, it's a nice experiment...

That upgrade from Java 8 to 11 you've been putting off? UK fintech types at Revolut 'quite happy' after a year in production

Andy 73

Re: "Software gets new features"

Rather misunderstanding the longevity and consistency of Java, there.

This is a language and VM that has been around for nearly twenty four years, with remarkably little breakage. Libraries and the core VM have been compatible for the majority of that time, with breaking changes only occurring when the current 'state of the art' has advanced so much that the old way of doing it can no longer be supported.

It speaks volumes that they were willing to upgrade everything - if breakage was a serious concern, it would have been easy to keeps parts of the system wrapped in containers running older VMs.

If you're writing code in Python, JavaScript, Java and PHP, relax. The hot trendy languages are still miles behind, this survey says

Andy 73


Burned into my memory

Brexit Britain changes its mind, says non, nein, no to Europe's unified patent court – potentially sealing its fate

Andy 73

Brexit Filter

I'm a little confused. After years of critical reporting of the mess going on at the EPO, and the lengthy delays over UPC, suddenly El Reg has decided it's the best idea evah, and killing it is an ideological choice?

Surprise! Plans for a Brexit version of the EU's Galileo have been delayed

Andy 73

Re: Shame we aren’t in Galileo?

Comrade, you're not allowed to criticise the EU. This is the comments section for people who want to savour the schadenfreude of Brexit not being a time of unicorns and cake.

Please report to the centre for reconditioning, and in the mean time remember to state that the UK is incapable of delivering anything, or achieving anything without help from people bigger and smarter than us.

Drones must be constantly connected to the internet to give Feds real-time location data – new US govt proposal

Andy 73


Not only would FAA regulation require your car to stop driving if you got too close to Buckingham Palace, Heathrow or any other sensitive site (including the hundreds of grass airstrips throughout the countryside) in the UK, but it would also be a legal requirement that any existing car must be retrofitted with the tech, or removed from the roads.

In addition, you wouldn't be able to race your cars (not permitted) or drive them off roads, or build go-karts.

And, before you drove anywhere, you'd have to file a request to drive with the DVLA.

And, all of your journeys would be publicly available for people to examine.

Review of IR35 is in: Quelle surprise, UK.gov will forge ahead with controversial tax reforms in the private sector

Andy 73


Not only tin-eared, but apparently divorced from reality.

Don't worry, IT contractors. New UK chancellor says HMRC will be gentle pushing IR35 rules

Andy 73

..for the first year...

Don't worry about the punishment beatings, they're going to be gentle for the first year.

Yes, that's apparently a reassuring phrase that should settle the matter. Back in your hole, contractor scum!

I hope the government learns it can't just take instruction from the large firms when it comes to economic policy.

UK contractors planning 'mass exodus' ahead of IR35 tax clampdown – survey

Andy 73

Re: Anonymous Contractor

These articles are like a dog whistle for people with chips on their shoulders about someone else's income.

Oi! You got a loicence for that Java, mate? More devs turn to OpenJDK to swerve Oracle fee

Andy 73

Re: Oracle drives non-java uptake

Very true, but then you get efforts like Flutter and slowly the libs get replaced as well. Again, if Spring provide top level support, then the reasons to stick with Java are eroded.

It's hard to overstate the value of the Java libs - you can get Java to do just about anything thanks to the vast, well supported and consistent APIs they provide. But... nothing is forever and there is always an incentive to build a 'free(er)' version if there is someone attempting to gate-keep.

Andy 73

Oracle drives non-java uptake

Of course, money from an existing resource is 'free', so it doesn't matter if that resource is decimated in the process. No incentive for Oracle not to squeeze the pips for juice.

In the mean time, we start with languages that compile to JVM, but aren't Java. Then we get a VM that isn't Java and the whole world moves away from Oracle. Kotlin, Dart and all the others are the bridge away from Java, and if something like Spring suddenly starts to support those other languages, devs will be happy to move.

EU tells UK: Cut the BS, sign here, and you can have access to Galileo sat's secure service

Andy 73

Wow, strong filter there...

A whole article about what the author believes in. Disappointing, but I guess it plays to the peanut gallery.

Sir John Redwood backs IR35 campaign, notes review would have to start 'immediately' before new off-payroll working rules kick in

Andy 73

What a surprise. This sort of comment crops up whenever IR35 or contractor rates are mentioned.

If, as a permanent employee you are earning half that of the contractor next to you, you should ask why that is the case. No-one is forcing your company to engage that person, and no-one is forcing you to stay as a permanent employee.

Don't underestimate the 'disguised cost' you place on your company - all those benefits, employee rights and cost of an inflexible workforce add up.

Given HMRC's antagonism towards contractors over the last few years, I've taken the path to permanent employment. I'm paid less, pay less tax and offer much less flexibility to my employer - but I don't have to jump through hoops to prove I have a right to exist and I have more stability in my life. No need to complain about the guy sitting next to me - if they earn more than me, perhaps it's because they're worth it to the boss.

Metasploit for drones? Best of luck with that, muses veteran tinkerer

Andy 73

"difficult to harness the drone community for free/open-source work"

Yes it's "difficult to harness the drone community for free/open-source work" - because the drone community is sick to death of idiots giving them a bad name.

"Will you help me crash and steal drones" is not going to get you a good response, not even if you are doing it for free/open-source.

Alright! Ma time to meet that shag quota! Alibaba chairman steps down at 55 with $38.6bn fortune

Andy 73

Re: So he's stepping down

He can't have my garden, unless he comes and weeds it first.

A carbon-nanotube RISC-V CPU blinks into life. Boffins hold their breath awaiting first sign of life... 'Hello world!'

Andy 73

But how fast does it clock?

See title....

Home Office told to stop telling EU visa porkies

Andy 73

Misleading headline is misleading

The political bias in this piece is hardly justified by the story that prompted it. The ad was not sufficiently informative - that's rather different from 'telling lies'.

As for the 'hostile environment' comment - about as current as referring to Thatcher as 'the milk snatcher'.

Contractor association blasts UK.gov guidance on hated IR35 tax law's arrival in private sector

Andy 73

Re: Impossibly complicated

As a contractor, I can pretty much guarantee I have paid more tax than any permanently employed person of similar grade that I have sat next to at any time in the last twenty years. I offer utility to companies that need (a) workers at short notice or to bridge a change in work load, (b) workers to bring in knowledge about external systems and practises that the company itself does not have, (c) workers that can be let go with little or no notice if a project has to be stopped (d) workers that self-train where there is a company culture of expensive external accreditation and so on and so forth.

And as a consequence, I pay more tax than the permanent employees who take full advantage of sick days and holidays, training and wellbeing days, maternity/paternity leave, company pensions, health plans, car pools, car parking, mentorship and counselling, fitness clubs, company retreats and the financial stability that long term permanent employment offers.

On the whole, this is a fair deal, and I try to deliver the value the client needs, to integrate with their team and help implement change and improvement in practices. Only very occasionally do I meet sanctimonious, angry, self harming idiots who think that companies are special social clubs run for their sole benefit, and who get mightily offended that someone might be seen as more valuable to the company than they personally deem reasonable.

You can pretty much guarantee that one of those moral guardians will crop up on each of these news items, clearly misunderstanding how taxation and employment work.

*Spits out coffee* £4m for a database of drone fliers, UK.gov? Defra did game shooters for £300k

Andy 73

..one more thing

Actually, there is one more observation.

The CAA are likely to achieve the rare distinction of the registration fee costing more than some of the drones they wish owners to register.

Andy 73

Pay attention, CAA

I very rarely feel it's appropriate to discuss past achievements, but... I led the team that wrote one of the first online banking services in the UK, developed services for an online global retailer that handle a million unique users each and every day and devised databases for tracking terrabyte datasets for a medical research organisation.

The price quoted is (excuse the technical term) a complete piss-take. Nothing more to add.

Silent Merc, holy e-car... Mflllwhmmmp! What is that terrible sound?

Andy 73

Lotus: Been there, done that

This was demonstrated by Lotus ten years ago (using a Prius) - a dynamic accoustic system that both warned pedestrians and gave drivers better feedback about what the car was actually doing.

The Harman system they developed could choose engine sounds - either something Star Trekky, or a more traditional sports car sound - so your Nissan Leaf could sound like it had a V12 engine.

Fun fact: GPS uses 10 bits to store the week. That means it runs out... oh heck – April 6, 2019

Andy 73

Note to self:

Remember not to fly the drone near Gatwick on April 6th,

Treaty of Roam: No-deal Brexit mobile bill shock

Andy 73

Re: So predictable !

@DavCrav "This doesn't exist anywhere else on the planet. No such systems have been shown to work. Even in theory it would be impossible to stop mass smuggling, never mind in practice."

You do understand that there is already a border between RoI and NI, that they run different taxation regimes and that 'mass smuggling' is prevented on a daily basis across that border? You just don't see it because most of the police and customs operations are run away from the border itself.

Frankly, the understanding of these issues is laughable. But of course, everyone has political skin in the game and the basic facts get lost to the whichever view the reader thinks most fits their beliefs. It's lovely that 'IT experts' think that their desktop skills give them special insight into how an international border works.

Andy 73

Re: So predictable !

@DavCrav And in your subsequent paragraph you demonstrate the same.

The WTO do not require a hard border, they require that customs are maintained across a border. That does not have to be through a physical stop at the point of crossing. Both the EU and the UK have said that they would be OK with checks occurring away from the border and through technological means, and the WTO is understood to accept such arrangements.

The glorious Brexit uncertainty: The only dead cert on data rules for tech biz in 2019

Andy 73

Re: Not so worried by Brexit..

No, I just pointed out that the two places where innovation is occurring are not the EU or the UK, and that 'we' are doing everything we can to ensure that remains the case.

Note there is a subtle difference between security of data and the crusade some are going on in the EU to make handling of people's data as onerous as possible.

Andy 73

Not so worried by Brexit..

..as the fact that some seem to think that adding a byzantine layer of legal requirements to providing online services (all in the name of stopping the big boys, who are now officially the enemy) adds yet more friction to small companies trying to deliver innovative new products.

China (and America) must be laughing like drains.

Space policy boffin: Blighty can't just ctrl-C, ctrl-V plans for Galileo into its Brexit satellite

Andy 73

No mention...

Of the weekend resignation of Sam Gyimah, the Science Minister who was overseeing the Galileo discussions? As a Remain voter, his reasons for quitting were interesting, citing frustration over negotiations with the EU on Galileo as a reason for his resignation:

Having surrendered our voice, our vote and our veto, we will have to rely on the ‘best endeavours’ of the EU to strike a final agreement that works in our national interest. As Minister with the responsibility for space technology I have seen first-hand the EU stack the deck against us time and time again, even while the ink was drying on the transition deal. Galileo is a clarion call that it will be ‘EU first’, and to think otherwise – whether you are a leaver or remainer - is at best incredibly naïve.

Facebook spooked after MPs seize documents for privacy breach probe

Andy 73

Re: Missing Information

The implication (which has to be carefully couched for fear of all sorts of consequences) is that the person in question came over here with foreknowledge that he would be compelled to hand over any documents he just happened to have on his person.

The sergeant at arms stuff would then be theatre to legitimise the transfer of sealed documents to a foreign power.

The interesting thing is going to be seeing how much of a deal this all is. At the end of the day, it rather depends how much actual influence a jumped up marketing company really has over its audience, and whether all of that influence was exerted only in one direction. Zuck certainly doesn't gather admirers, but whether he's actually competently evil is another question...

Mything the point: The AI renaissance is simply expensive hardware and PR thrown at an old idea

Andy 73


One skill Hassabis certainly seems to have is the ability to be tremendously excited by the work he's doing, and to communicate that excitement to people who might pay him. He's had quite a long history of building emergent systems of various sorts, and promising that each will deliver a unique experience. I'm sure there are interesting and novel components to his work, but casual inspection usually results in devs going "Ah, so he's doing <X>", where <X> is a fairly well known technique, being applied to ever larger data sets.

This seems to be a common theme in AI research, where researchers posit that if the data set is big enough, eventually we'll get something new. It's unfortunate to confuse that with the less impressive flashes of insight into particular systems that fill most press releases. "We discovered that <doing something counter-intuitive> results in <some desired outcome>" sounds like a great leap has been made in understanding, whereas it's usually just the case that dispassionate data analysis has revealed unusual correlations.

It's raining drones, but just one specimen: DJI's Matrice 200 quadcopter

Andy 73

Re: Expensive brick

None of which has to be in the battery itself. However, certain manufacturers are keen to lock their customers into their own 'special' batteries rather than buying equivalent items at half the price. Customers lap up the 'smartness' of the batteries they pay through the nose for :)

Memo to Mark Sedwill: Here's how to reboot government IT

Andy 73

Re: Hmmm....

That doesn't seem to be so much a criticism of Agile or the people using it, so much as staffing and support problems. Of course there are people who believe the magic 'A' word achieves twice the work with half the staff and removes all need for support... sigh.

Andy 73


Though GDS was a disaster in so many entertaining ways, I'm a tad cynical that letting the academics at the problem is going to make it any better.

From the point of view of an outsider looking in, the three things you need for 'digital transformation' are a team willing to stand on a few toes, who are capable of delivering rock solid systems and who have enough authority to make changes in the legacy (people and services) that they are meant to be transforming.

It seems GDS had the remit to be bold, did not have the experience to deliver large scale robust systems (at which point, experience with the likes of Amazon is probably more useful than experience of IBM, SAP and the other treacle-mongers), and met with the gordian knot that is a government department being asked to do something remotely different.

I'm sure the government came up with every reason to limit change (it's always been done this way; we're a service, not a shop; there's no legal remit to do this; it's above/below my pay grade; you need approval for that pencil...), and will have been mightily dismissive of something as radical as Agile - and you can guarantee that enough defensive strategies were put in place to ensure that GDS would stumble. Without rock-hard implementation to fall back on, the process and people can be blamed for internal intransigence and clueless dithering when being asked to commit to delivering something new.

Now the greybeards will crash into the hole and suggest heavy handed and reassuringly expensive system integrators should do what the script kiddies could not. The projects will take just as long, fail just as often and deliver even more timorous change, but not once will the common factor in the long list of failures be identified.

FYI: Drone maker DJI's 'Get it on Google Play' website button definitely does not get the app from Google Play...

Andy 73


You do understand that the DJI app has Google dependencies in it, so even if you sideload it, you're still going to have to have Google stuff on your device? This is absolutely not helping you to avoid the Google monopoly, but is helping you avoid the vast amount of money Google has had to put into security to avoid headlines like "Toy manufacturer has website hacked, millions of users' details exposed".

Building your own PC for AI is 10x cheaper than renting out GPUs on cloud, apparently

Andy 73

The Cloud..

As ever, buying into the cloud only makes sense if you understand what you're paying for. A good chunk of my business runs on a second hand blade running in a spare room. Running the equivalent workload on AWS would have cost a six figure sum over the years I've used it - but as I don't need super low latency, fail over or load balancing, a £400 machine turns out to be a bargain.

Unfortunately, many businesses (falsely) assume cloud services give them all sorts of safety nets where sometimes on premises kit would be entirely satisfactory.

Lights, camera, AI-ction! Robo-drones turned into spies, er, filmmakers

Andy 73


The M210 is *not* a 'consumer drone' - It's part of DJI's enterprise range and starts at just North of £7K.

Whilst this is a big improvement on the existing optical tracking algorithms, it's not exactly new. DJI have included Active Track in their actual consumer drones for around two years now. Unlike this algorithm, their version runs on a cheap processor running in the drone itself. Admittedly, it's easily fooled, but this shows that improvements are possible (and ultimately probably don't need ten grand's worth of equipment to run).

Redis has a license to kill: Open-source database maker takes some code proprietary

Andy 73


So it turns out that contributing to large scale open source projects is sometimes thankless, and that the majority of people using your hard work are large corporates who derive *gasp* actual income from the infrastructure you've kindly built.

Calls that people who enjoy software development should also provide hosting or 24/7 support if they actually want to make money is rather like the expectation that film makers should only get income from advertising. If your skill is software development, why not ask to be rewarded directly for the thing you do, rather than being required to add a whole bunch of other tasks you don't enjoy to your life?

None of this is counter to the core ideas of open source, and the huge reward that comes from sharing and contributing to projects - however, it should be recognised that sometimes other models are just as appropriate.

No fandango for you: EU boots UK off Galileo satellite project

Andy 73


@david 12 - You're on a loosing battle here, the Remain representation in the Forums is quite loud.

It's unfortunate that some people want to define Brexit as 'cutting all ties with the EU', and treat A50 like a declaration of war. Despite absolving themselves of any responsibility, they're setting the tone as much as any others. As it is, we're changing the terms under which we trade, share, work and play with the member nations of Europe. Apart from a few extremists, you'd be hard to find anyone who wants to 'pull up the drawbridge'. I've heard more from the Guardian about 'not welcoming foreigners' than I have from the Daily Mail lately.

But hey, apparently the world is completely black and white, and it's all the fault of those evil Brexiters. No collective responsibility at all.

Brit drone biz Sensat notches up 29km remote-control flight

Andy 73

More please

To see real innovation in this space, we need to work on enabling BVLOS flights as simply as possible. It's good to see that a single flight has been possible, but rather points out how slow progress is in this area that we've been technically able to carry out such missions for quite some time now.

How much is the drone biz worth to the UK? How's £42bn by 2030 sound? – PWC

Andy 73

Re: Yes but...


You won't find anyone in the industry who doesn't agree with the safety aspect. There are enough discussions about the risks involved with flying a commercial grade machine, that every pilot will be well aware of the consequences.

However, we've now been waiting for at least a year for clarification about what exactly the regulations will involve, and issues like beyond line of sight and autonomous flight are still completely unresolved. The confusion is that regulation is slow to emerge and the current interim regulations have no answer when it comes to running a scaleable business.

As I said, the current regulations are fine if you want to run a (safe) single operator business, but that is not what clients want (unless you're a wedding photographer).

Please don't confuse hobbyist fliers with commercial operators.

Andy 73

Yes but...

You know you're in trouble when you're relying on licensing to make it possible to make money in a business. Either you're capable of offering a service that adds value, or you're not. If the value is *only* established by artificially restricting entrance to the market, then you don't have a business.

It seems to me the biggest issues facing the drone industry are that

(1) all of the major platforms are built outside this country and are 'closed source', so we have limited capacity to develop custom applications without first re-inventing the wheel.

(2) we're still waiting on regulations that *enable* businesses. We can't fly beyond line of sight, or autonomously without an expensively trained operator.

(3) operations in built up areas are heavily restricted

The points above mean that the only business currently possible is 'pay by the hour camera operator' - which is not attractive to most business clients. Construction companies want to either just 'use a drone' or 'pay for a national service' - not have to find a local 'man with a van' who may or may not be able to provide data that their departments can use. The same applies for most other suggested use cases; they need to be either cost effective to run in-house, or available as a consistent service nationwide.

In short, we're still trying to develop the technology and discover the business models that will work - yet the confused regulation and uncertain environment severely restrict experimentation.



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