* Posts by Tim 54

22 posts • joined 18 Nov 2009

How to catch a fraudster – using 'top cop' Benford and the power of maths

Tim 54

Probability Density??

This seems like a quick hack against probabalistic density functions. Learn from a big set of data what a normal distribution of values is. A Benford distribution may well occur in some models. Then score against that probabilistic distribution. Anomalies will show up. The advantage of probabilistic distributions is that they can be setup in multidimensional space (so our friend with limits can use the limit as a separate dimension). They also copes with all sorts of different distributions and clusters.

The downside is that they are horribly computationally intensive, but like all data mining, understanding the data first is key to developing a solution. Throwing random methods or models and hoping one "works" is a recipe for disaster. Some data will fit. Some won't. Worse, some data might appear to fit, but if you don't understand why, it could be an artifact of sampling, or just a one off. There are no magic methods.

High Court derails Google defence in Safari browser stalker cookie brouhaha

Tim 54

no "sales"

Of course they have no sales here - it's all in Ireland, which is why they pay tiny amounts of tax......

iPhone 5S, iOS 7 misery: Only JORDAN HATCH, 19, can SAVE APPLE NOW

Tim 54

Good to see the Standard is so good at maths that of their 25 "under 25", 1 is 26 and 4 are 25

But hey it's just a trashy list anyway.

Do you really want tech companies to pay more tax?

Tim 54

Crumbs from the table.

The reality of pension funds is that most of them are held for the richest in society (you only have to look at the payoffs in pension terms of the likes of Fred the Shred). Sure, some of the shares are owned by pension funds, although it's far less than it used to be as the mega-rich don't need them (because they use their own offshore vehicles). But it doesn't alter the fundamentals which are that if company A is avoiding tax, and company B isn't then company A has an unfair advantage, which reduces competition, creates oligopolies and is worse off for all of us in the long run.

This is just another low taxation tirade which ignores the fact that we have decided (through our votes) what we are prepared to pay for, and how we wish to pay for it (though a balance of taxes). You want something different? Go and get political parties to support your views, or start your own. Don't defend the indefensible.

Hitch climate tax to the actual climate, says top economist

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Ed Miliband brands Google's UK tax avoidance 'WRONG'

Tim 54

Defending capitalism

Seems like most posters here want the world run by mega-corporations.

The issue with tax structures like Googles is not fixed by the flat earthers (I mean tax proponents). Flat tax is still tax and multinationals will still try and avoid it. Nor is it a case of "we'll just have to pay more for goods".

Tax-avoidance at this scale leads to two factors. The first is that revenues are distorted so that when/if they are taxed they are more likely to end up in the country where the investors are which means we're essentially giving most of the money to US and Gulf-state taxpayers rather than the UK, so we have to make up the difference. EU law is about allowing you to keep the money within Europe, not sliding it out to a tax haven.

The second factor is that it becomes anti-competitive. The mega-corps effectively end up with a lower level of taxation whereas smaller nimbler potential competitors do not have the advantage, and therefore are unable to compete as effectively for investment or business. Thus undermining the principle of capitalism that the better offering will win out in the end. It's exactly the same reason that the Patent mess is undermining innovation (the system is stacked in favour of existing players). In the long run that also costs us all more.

Yes Labour didn't fix the problem when in power. That doesn't mean it doesn't need fixing or Milliband is a hypocrite for saying it now. One of the problems of being in power (or management) is that you are so fixated on the immediate issues you lose sight of the long term ones.

US Ambassador plays Game of Thrones with pirates

Tim 54

Re: Spoilers

As I can assume you can read as well as type, the issue of Spoilers for Game of Thrones is stupid.

I can tell you what will happen in series 4 because of this weird old school technology called a "BOOK" where episodes of the story are etched in strange runes on the shavings of trees mixed with cloth and bound together.

I call "feeble excuse"

And I've got the box sets of one and two, hate Murdoch and won't buy Sky but would have paid for HBO if I'd had the option.

It's just as good a year later (and 4 years after you read the story in the first place).

Your consent 'almost always' needed when firms use your data to profile you

Tim 54

Dumb beaurocrats

There's at least one fundamental flaw in these recommendations:

.....underlying "logic of the decision-making (algorithm) that led to the development of the profile".....

Is fine if the logic= Salary >50000 give loan.

However if you have an evolutionary (or density based, or almost any other form of intelligent mining post dating the 1980's) algorithm, then the algorithm itself is effectively changing based on the other data received. In order to tell you why you are considered not worthy of a loan I need to tell you all the personal details of all the other loan candidates with their credit history, locational information and everything else that factored into the decision because that's what makes the algorithm work. There's also quite possibly a randomness element which means that somebody else with the same history as you might actually be granted the loan, because the system is risking a bad loan to effectively test it's internal assumptions.

I don't blame the EU - It's just typical of lawyers/politicians/civil servants who assume that because it only takes a few seconds on a website, the underlying technology is as simple as their assumptions.

Schmidt 'very proud' of Google's tiny tax bill: 'It's called capitalism'

Tim 54

Do no evil

The difficulty here is that international tax legislation was designed to be fair. So if I made money in Germany and paid my taxes, it wouldn't be taxed again in the UK. All the schemes devised by whizzo accountants are technically legal but essentially are trying to circumvent the spirit of the rules that were created. Part of the reason tax codes are so complex is that they keep having to create new rules to block the accountants who are essentially trying to fiddle the system.

The net effect of this is not actually bolstering Capitalism as Schmidt claims, it's undermining it by reinforcing large players who might otherwise be replaced by smaller players who don't have the scale to play (or pay for) the tax dodges.

"Do no evil" was a pragmatic statement that allows for a bit of interpretation - i.e. rather than working to a set of proscribed standards we'll go with the spirit of what's right. However, playing the tax shuffle has proved that essentially that standard is hollow (and some of the privacy breakdowns have as well). Much as I love Google, having used it when most people were still on Altavista, I think they have lost the way from their early origins, and are in danger of becoming another Microsoft.

At least Schmidt's been kicked upstairs to chairman. Sooner Larry and Sergey get rid of him the better.

Android users: More of them than fanbois, but they don't use the web

Tim 54

Still get the money

The key thing for Google is getting and Targetting ads. That's where they make the money. The problem with this article is that the analysis is right, but the conclusion is wrong.

I'm an android user. That means Google knows where I live, where I travel (and when) and so on.

An advertiser cares I'm a bloke in southampton. Do they care if I surf from my PC at home or on my phone? I doubt it. The ability to target me is based on what Google knows about me, and my Android phone adds massively to that. That ups the value of my PC advertising.

Google knows what it's doing......

Industry in 'denial' as demand for pricey PCs plunges

Tim 54

Older and wiser

The truth is that many of us are grizzled old timers. Building your own PC is fun the first time. That 386 with the 20Mb disk......... but after the fifth version (and the old ones all in a cupboard), the fun's gone out of it.

I'd rather play with my RasPi, hacked HP touchpad , android phone..........

The new challenge for me is how much of my technolife can I run in < 8Watts of power, rather than the surge across the grid my aging i7 PC costs me.

City strokes modest firms, promises to spend a few million on IT

Tim 54

Re: Here's an idea

Why not try some facts before commentating. Bristol City council actually tried to go open office several years ago, but had to give up because so many other areas of government ran on Microsoft "standards" they ended up having to install loads of odd copies of office anyway.

MPs: Unified EU patent court framework would hurt small biz

Tim 54
Big Brother

Translation costs

Am I being dumb or is the only reason to site the court in the UK (why it needs to be London again doesn't seem to be explained......), that UK SME's will face translation cost issues, although surely the same applies to German SME's or French or whatever if it's in a country with a different language.

The argument that most patents are also likely to be submitted in the USA and therefore will need the english translation in any case might hold a little more water.

How smart are MP's......

Alcohol DOUBLES LIFESPAN, helps resist stress

Tim 54

Southampton Beer

If you're after decent beer in Southampton your best bet is the Guide Dog in Inner Avenue or the South Western Arms in St Denys, who between them always win the the CAMRA awards in the city.

Decent beer tends not to be in the centre of the city as they go for fast turnover which mostly means commercial lagers.

Having said that most of the beers tend to be in the 3.5-5 range as it's taste that matters. Winter "warmers" (usually stouts or porters) can be 6+.

All WikiLeaks' secret US cables are on BitTorrent in full

Tim 54

Assange in action

Seems a lot of jumping to blame the Guardian here.

According to them they were told (and would expect) the password was for time limited access to get hold of the files. They assumed (as would anyone with any understanding of security) that it was a one off password, hence why publishing it in the book wouldn't be an issue.

They also claim the docs doing the round on bittorrent are not the same as those they received (and I bet they can prove it).

The book was published months ago, and never gave details of where the files were located.

I for one am prepared to trust an organisation that is effectively non-profit (the Guardian is owned by a Trust which exists to see the Guardian is published), that brought down News International over the phone hacking scandal, and spent thousands carefully redacting the cables so that that they could be published responsibly over the egomaniac Assange who seems to fall out with everyone.

I believe Wikileaks was a great idea, but Assange is an idiot who's trying to cover his own back after making a fundamentally basic security mistake. This could well be the death of Wikileaks, but the fault lies with the combination of control-freak and ego of Assange, not the Guardian.

The truth will come out in court (if Assange doesn't back down like the last 2 times he threatened to sue the Guardian after they fell out).

Data-mining technique outs authors of anonymous email

Tim 54
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Not so bad

Whilst 80% for a single document wouldn't be good enough, suppose you have 4? All identified to the same author. That gives you a pretty low chance of the suspect not being the author. Building a case to a "beyond reasonable doubt" level involves multiple levels of evidence. In a harrassment case, your likely to have several emails (otherwise it wouldn't be harassment). That's the point of building a case - if they were all easy, police wouldn't have much to do. It's the same process we use in the brain to decide if something is true or not - we build evidence until we hit above our "truth threshold" and decide it's true.

Is US prudishness ruining the internet?

Tim 54
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Commercial rules

In a free economy businesses are going to go for where their profits lie. Facebook's customers are not the freeloaders using the service, but the advertisers who fund it. The reality is that they have their own ethical standards relating to their market position and therefore Coca-cola is probably not going to want it's ads running over the Anal-fisting fanclub. The risk of alienating the much larger group of people who disapprove of the activity is far higher than the profit lost by not catering to every sub-group in society.

In some senses this may actually be more democratic than the government approach which does seek to ensure space for minority groups. In a free society, corporations and individuals are free to self-censor in the same way that they are free to form supportive groups.

There are plenty of spaces for those who want to have their "adult" based social network. They just exist in paywall restricted areas because they need to self-fund.

One persons freedom to express themselves naked conflicts with anothers freedom to not be exposed to pics of their penis because they happen to be your friend. I suspect 99% of the world's population is more conservative than the values of the UK - the internet is much 'freeer' than the prevailing societal attitudes as it stands. If the rules were too restrictive, people would move services, but the reality is that they are happy with it.

Welcome to the real world.

Googlegate: Mapping a scandal of global proportions

Tim 54

A little knowledge......

You might be surprised that you can't tie down location to IP but having worked in the industry I'm not. (It also used to be a problem in the US that all AOL users came through the same IP block). Geotrargeting was not available in the UK in the way it was in the US.

most ISP's don't use fixed IP anyway, but ADSL pools may vary geographically, so this data would be valuable. If that allows geotargets (which can be worth 10 times as much if you can target closely).

All the comments about Agile developments etc. are missing the point. This is not a little startup, this is a massive corporation that can afford to pay people to drive around the world taking photos. This is a company who decided to breach copyright on all the books it could get it's hands on and then tried to deal with the law afterwards.

The code probably started as a good idea. It may even have got as far as legal who may or may not have said that it was legal in the US but not necessarily elsewhere. It may be that someone should have flicked a switch so that the German build turned it off.

I love what Google do (when they do no evil), but they need to grow up and get their act together. They are way out of line on this one. If nothing else a good legal slapping may help them to learn how to treat people will respect

Watchdog backs Google antitrust complaint with (more) data

Tim 54
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Get the point

Before I start, I'll say I'm a big Google fan, and use their services extensively, but.....

Monopolies/Anti-trust are not about total monopolies - only the situation where one company dominates the market to such an extent that they can distort it. Google's domination of search is a case in point

The fact that these services are free to the end user is not the point. They are paid for by advertisers who then have to add those costs into what they charge us for the product. You pay somewhere else.

I use product search quite often. Mostly because it's easy. Search for the product (e.g. i5-750 processor)- the google result is prominent and easy to get to. Other price comparison engines are harder to find, and you're less likely to click on them. Even if they find a better or more accurate price or offer better searching. So are you going to advertise on one of the other engines if nearly all your results come from Google? And once the competitive sites drop off because Google owns the market, are you surprised if Google decides to charge more? And you have to raise your prices to cover the cost. And we all end up paying.

Anti-trust/Monopolies Commissions are there to stop that happening. If your services are better - that's great. But if you are subsidising them by giving them a prominent space no other competitor gets (or cannot afford) then you are exploiting your monopoly and that's not fair competition.

I want good competition to Google so it keeps innovating and giving me stuff I want to use. I don't want it counting the cash and dumping engineers for marketing bods as so many "mature" tech companies have.

DVLA off-road system seriously off-message

Tim 54

Info for friends across the water

Just to say (if you get this far) that the reason behind SORN is to reduce the problems of uninsured drivers. Because most housing in the UK (especially in low income areas) has no parking facilities (because it was built before car ownership was common), you have to park on the side of the public highway.

As you need to show proof of valid insurance to tax the cars, forcing them off the street reduces the possibility of them getting driven and in an accident.

I know they do checks, as my car got impounded when I was between jobs and my tax ran out.

'Black box for buses' datachip survives 900° conflag

Tim 54
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Not so secret or new

Having seen a "black box" retrieved from a ship after it went down blazing, I doubt this is very new tech.

Capsule with an SSD with clever engineering stuff to control pressure, cooling features etc (If it's Chinese possibly a nice helpful asbestos layer as well...).

Bit of shockproofing for the explosion.

Unlike for aero, cost's a big factor in shipping, and the units are relatively cheap now.

New on Buses I guess.

How the Dunning-Kruger effect will stop techies buying houses

Tim 54
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Tims a victim of the effect

The Dunning-Kruger effect is an example of cognitive bias in which "people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it"

Unfortunately Tim;s incompetence robs him of the inability to see past his own nose and writes accordingly. Take a sound theory apply it inappropriately and then come to some conclusions.

To start, assume everyone is solely motivated by money. I know plenty of highly motivated PhD's working for charities and in academia on not big salaries. Perhaps smart people might want to join the FSA because they don't want to play Roulette in the City. There's plenty enough money there to have a comfortable life, just not as millionaires.

The prime reason for the banking collapse was the complete breakdown in trust between banking institutions. If you think someone else might be bust you aren't going to risk lending them your money. The housing bubble was caused by cheap credit from poor risk assessment. Forcing the originators to keep a portion of their loans means that they are more likely to be focussed on getting the risks assessed correctly rather than dumping it on the next sucker until the music stops. It's true the collapse came when they couldn't sell the bonds, but they would have been much keener on ensuring they were worth something if they hadn't got away with passing all the risks on before, and others are more likely to trust you've done your job if your neck is on the line. If they want to be mortgage brokers - fine. But don't expect to get the advantages of being a banker as well.

Hedge funds didn't have anything to do with the crash or the recession. No, but when they crash and burn (and several did) it's our money (via Pension funds) they lose. None of us has the time to work out the implication of staff changes at pension firms or which hedge funds they prefer which might drastically affect our future. The cost of regulatory compliance will be trivial compared to what can happen to thousands by bad investment decisions.

If Tim is right, we should obviously pay MP's a million a year to ensure we get the "right people" to do the intelligent things. I look forward to him standing for Parliament with that kind of platform.

As for the IT angle, the self cert ban is on self cert without proof. Maybe contractors will have to pay themselves a realistic salary and not tax dodge via dividends. That way they can get their mortgage, as they'll have lots of nice payslips.


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