* Posts by breakfast

1504 publicly visible posts • joined 24 May 2007

The iPhone 15 has a Goldilocks issue: Too big or too small. Maybe a case will make it just right

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Re: Phones are lovely but they'd be much better without cameras

Having a camera is great, but I would miss a lot of pictures if I had to have my real camera with me the whole time. My phone catches lots of things I would otherwise miss. Not to mention that a lot of photos are just useful - showing someone what a problem is so they can give you a quote on fixing it.

US govt IT help desk techie 'leaked top secrets' to foreign nation

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Mastodon makes a major move amid Musk's multiple messes

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A home for the locals?

I feel like Mastodon would be a pretty good home for the small subset of Reg community members who don't snort huffily at the very concept of social media, being social at all, accessing the internet with anything newer than a dialup modem, and computers smaller than an IBM mainframe. The "complicated" nature of having to decide which server(s) to sign up to has resulted in a fairly tech-savvy community and if you search around there are plenty of funny and interesting people on there and interesting conversations.

In the post-twitter world it might be the social media I have most fun with.

Lawsuit claims Google Maps led dad of two over collapsed bridge to his death

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Re: Process failure at Google

I have only heard the opposite - people I know who update Google about impassable routes either get no response and no change (and have to keep turning back truck drivers trying to get around impossible bends or squeeze down bridleways) or get a change for a few weeks that is subsequently reverted without explanation.

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Re: Were there no signs indicating that the Bridge was out?

Given that you're not the driver in question, it seems as though your experience driving a different vehicle in a different country might not be applicable here. I'm in a slightly different part of the country where driving 30-35 on many of the single-track roads is likely to get somebody (or at least some livestock) killed. Roads are built different in different places and American vehicles are insane.

Also looking at the photo in the story, if you were approaching at night the way the road continues the other side could lead you to think that the road simply dipped down to the bridge below the range of your headlights. On a road with no warning signs or barriers of any kind (this is the bit that is incomprehensible to me!) why would you immediately assume that you were driving towards a collapsed bridge?

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Re: Were there no signs indicating that the Bridge was out?

You can feed back to Google that their maps are wrong, but the only outcome is that you have told Google their maps are wrong. They categorically will not change it, or if they do the change will soon be reverted.

Chap blew up critical equipment on his first day – but it wasn't his volt

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Re: Should this be so easy?

This is a real problem for guitarists who have forgotten the lead to their amplifier.

Unity talks of price cap and fees for only largest games developers

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They could have handled the communication better by communicating a different message and that different message being true.

'Small monthly payment' only thing that stands between X and bot chaos, says Musk

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Re: It just leaves you shaking your head?

The Muskwit tried to do stock manipulation on Twitter with his offer and then realised he had made a terrible mistake when he had to choose between buying it at the price he had offered and going to jail. Now he's trying to find a way to weasel out of the situation and it's possible he thinks he can line up some kind of bankruptcy deal that will make the problem go away for him, so he's trying to come up with the most deliberately destructive policies possible.

Of course, that may be doing him too much credit, we have established he is so thick the spoon stands up and that he is undergoing some kind of billionaire-brained breakdown, so he might just be that incompetent.

Microsoft admits slim staff and broken automation contributed to Azure outage

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Unusual weather

Unusual to have a single flash of lightning and then the cloud is completely gone.

Sure, give the new kid and his MCSE power over the AS/400. What could possibly go wrong?

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A real advantage of these stories; if only there were some that took place past 2000 and referred to technology that still exists...

On one hand I want to hear about people tying their docker containers in knots, on the other I have a solid "who me" story that I'm wondering about sending in because it feels a bit recent.

'AI-written history' of Maui wildfire becomes Amazon bestseller, fuels conspiracies

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AI books starting to get dangerous

Another interesting place where Amazon is selling AI-generated books is apparently guides to mushroom foraging. People who have looked into this suggest that some of them contain advice that is likely to get people killed.

It will be interesting to see who is considered liable when this happens.

Chinese media teases imminent exposé of seismic US spying scheme

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Re: Revelations that could rock American surveillance networks

Alright, this one really got me.

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Black Helicopters

Revelations that could rock American surveillance networks

If this turns out to be genuine it sounds like America could be on shaky ground.

Most distant observed star is blue – and it isn't alone

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A hot minute

It's interesting to me that we talk about what a star "is" like when we're describing how it was 12.9 billion years ago. It's not wrong from our frame of reference, but it's at the extreme end of isness.

Never mind room temperature, LK-99 slammed as 'not a superconductor at all'

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Sounds like that's about it, then

Time to mark the copper-doped lead-apatite for destruction.

Scientists strangely unable to follow recipe for holy grail room-temp superconductor

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Thumb Up

In fairness it would be extremely funny if the secret of superconductivity turned up in a post by some AManFromMars wannabe rando on the Reg forums and nobody noticed because it was so clearly nonsense.

Soon the most popular 'real' desktop will be the Linux desktop

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Re: I find your lack of evidence…. disturbing

When I used Linux as my main desktop OS I found I couldn't avoid fiddling with it if I wanted to get anything working.

Eventually I realised Linux was free as in "free to spend all my free time trying to get basic things working on my Linux desktop" and switched back to Windows. I still complain about it a lot and I still run my machine in dual boot but on a day to day basis Windows just works with far more software than Linux does. Particularly with things like music software, simply being confident that VSTs will work consistently means I can confidently buy them, which opened a lot of doors for me.

I hope that we'll end up with a model that allows desktop software to work well under Linux, but I don't know that it will ever happen.

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Re: Volume, relationships, market, etc.

Counterpoint: Microsoft don't care about those of us who want to use Windows on end devices. We're a small part of the market and simply not interesting to them. If I was selling software that needed to run on a local machine - if I was an Adobe or a Cubase or whoever - I would be looking at how I could get my tools working on Linux because sooner or later Microsoft are going to kill my model of locally installed software running locally.

One weekend's TwitX chaos brings threats from Japan; indemnity promises for users; prominent account seizures

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They're just so ridiculous.

Everything about these stories shows why we can't trust billionaires with anything. As someone observed back when Twitter existed: "In terms of cognitive impairment [being a billionaire is] probably like being kicked in the head by a horse every day."

MIT boffins build battery alternative out of cement, carbon black, water

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This one weird trick stores energy in your floor...

If you thought nylon carpets could give you a zing, this takes things to a whole new level!

NASA mistakenly severs communication to Voyager 2

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How would it's stint end?

"NASA reckons the situation is temporary and will not end the probe's nearly 46-year stint in space "

Pretty sure that even if the communications were to fail entirely, it would continue to be in space.

OctoX is a radical Rust implementation of a very old OS for RISC-V

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The real hero of this piece

Congratulations to Cliff Biffle on having exactly the kind of name I come up with when I'm GMing and the players ask the random shopkeeper what his name is so I have to come up with something on the spot. Big "background NPC who is about to be adopted by the party" energy.

Google's browser security plan slammed as dangerous, terrible, DRM for websites

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If they follow the standard pattern...

Google are very likely to implement this, give it just enough time that a bunch of people have to figure out how it works, and then deprecate it with barely any warning.

Aliens crash landed on Earth – and Uncle Sam is covering it up, this guy tells Congress

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Re: Nonsense

This assumes that the biological agents are the aliens who are sending the craft, not bio-engineered drones or similar. I don't think we have enough evidence in any direction to be certain of that.

Twitter name and blue bird logo to be 'blowtorched' off company branding

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Re: Moron alert. Again

Can Elon's engineers design a skeleton so strong that a Saudi bone saw can't cut it?

Linux lover consumed a quarter of the network

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I only learnt recently that Debian celebrated the relationship between Deb and Ian. A delightfully amateur origin for one our major OS distributions.

Twitter ad revenue has halved since Elon Musk took over

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Re: Not just the advertisers

A really neat formulation I saw recently was "if a black person has to spend an hour a day blocking nazis to make your site usable while a nazi does not have to block anyone, then your site favours nazis."

Non-moderation is every bit as much of a choice as moderation. Who you choose to favour is very telling.

UK government faces calls to end IR35 double tax anomaly

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IR35 is kind of bullshit but it would be funny to see the Tories becoming the "tax our most loyal voters twice" party if it wasn't a problem I also have to deal with every time I'm considering a new contract*. It's complicated, stupid and it works for no-one.

If I was pushing for political power I think "make tax understandable" would be a pretty good element to one's campaign.

* Hypocritical? Absolutely, but I never voted for the leopards eating people's faces party. Seeing people who did get their faces eaten is schadenfreudelicious.

Bizarre backup taught techie to dumb things down for the boss

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Re: It could be worse

An untidy computer desktop is a real bugbear of mine. I hate to see it.

The top of my literal desk, however...

Microsoft's Azure West Europe region blew away in freak summer storm

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Only now do they tell us the cloud can be affected if there are too many clouds. Fortunately that's the only way things can go wrong. Except if things get unplugged or switched off and on wrong or there's a problem with a policy update or someone else's cloud goes down and somehow takes a critical piece of your infrastructure with it.

Honestly sometimes it feels like the cloud is just somebody else's computer.

Sarah Silverman, novelists sue OpenAI for scraping their books to train ChatGPT

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"Prone to generating false information" certainly doesn't feel like something you want in your command and control chain.

There's probably a fun sci-fi story in an army that manoeuvres in specific ways designed to trigger the weakness in command and control AI systems by manipulating what is reported about them.

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If someone makes a TV adaptation of a book they have sort out some kind of licensing arrangement under the expectation that everyone is going to make money off the deal. Why should scraping it to train AI be any different? You're using an authors work to create a commercial product that makes money for you.

If you don't want to license it, then don't use it- at the very least authors should be able to say "I don't want my work to be used for this purpose" but like soup ingredients, it seems as though once it's in an LLM you're not going to be able to get it out.

From cage fight to page fight: Twitter threatens to sue Meta after Threads app launch

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Re: Twitter's biggest Trade Secret

And fair play to him, he's got one. It was just extremely expensive and increasingly many people are pulling themselves out of earshot rather than listening to his incoherent tirades.

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Re: That makes it a much better alternative than Bluesky, let alone crap like Mastadon

Could but may well not end up federated with a lot of Mastodon instances because by and large the community there does not have any trust at all for Meta. They'll have to work very hard to demonstrate that they have something to offer and aren't just planning some further embrace and extend bullshit, which is what the Fediverse community are bracing for.

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Re: Twitter's biggest Trade Secret

Twitter handles a huge amount of data and I expect there is some really clever engineering going on behind the scenes, but you've hit on an important truth here. Perhaps the most important thing that Lone Skum did not understand was that he was buying a community and he needed to operate it in terms of maintaining that community.

Instead he acted like he had a technology product and proceeded to chase the users away by making it progressively more obnoxious and harder to use, destroying its value in the process. The thing that made Twitter worthwhile was that for a long time everyone was there. I doubt there will be another platform like it after this fragmentation.

Twitter's management had been walking the tightrope of maintaining that userbase for a long time. I think had he not bought them out, they might have been failing by now anyway - being the poster children for "grow first, monetise later" starts to get tough when the interest rates on your loans are rising fast and you still haven't got around to making significant amounts of money.

Nobody does DR tests to survive lightning striking twice

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I hope your extra efforts earned some Diss respect.

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Motherboard, I just killed the mains,

When some lightning hit a tree

Took out the circuits and the leads...

Boss such a tyrant you need a job quitting agent? It works in Japan

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Not at all, quiet quitting is sticking to your paid hours, doing the work that is requested of you but no more, basically working to rule. The bosses get so rabid over people handing over their labour for free that they categorise limiting work to what is in your contract a kind of quitting, while they would never dream of paying you more than the amount in your contract.

The more power somebody wants over others, the more antagonistic they find it when people maintain firm boundaries.

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You're clearly very fortunate, but you were also able to retire early and comfortably, which implies you're maybe a generation or two ahead of many of us here.

Suffice to say the market has not moved in the direction of treating people better than it did when you were in the workplace and your experience may no longer be representative.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to work somewhere that offered those kinds of benefits, but if they still exist now they are few and far between. More of a tech unicorn than a profitable start-up, for sure.

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"The irony is that in taking this approach, the quiet quitters are unlikely to achieve the pay rises and promotions they so desire." I don't know if our reporter here has had many jobs, but I can guarantee that working extra hours will almost never earn you a pay rise or promotion either, but now you've wasted half your life working extra hard for no benefit.

If you're working outside the hours you're paid for then you're doing your job as a hobby.

Artificial General Intelligence remains a distant dream despite LLM boom

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The Emperor's new cold-reader

I read a very interesting article on this yesterday (The LLMentalist Effect) that suggests that part of the wonder around LLMs is because we have accidentally trained them to communicate like cold readers or stage psychics. The way their statements are ranked for accuracy in training can have the outcome of favouring the same type of Barnum Statements and statistical guesses that make it easy for the people using it (a self-selecting audience, just like the psychics enjoy) to trick themselves into thinking there is intelligence there.

It's a really interesting article, well worth a read.

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Re: AGI will never arrive

Scientists will never get those definitions until they start listening to philosophers, who've been working on the same questions for centuries.

In fairness, there is a lot of crossover between cognitive science and philosophy - people like Dennett work with both - but a lot of the engineers working on AI end up ignoring the cognitive scientists as well.

Time running out for crew of missing Titanic tourist submarine

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Re: Rescue by Aliens?

They finally locate the sub and drag it to the surface but when they unbolt that door ... it is empty.

False negative stretched routine software installation into four days of frustration

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Re: On the other hand...

I've run into a few true Heisenbugs where they were triggered by some very narrow timing issue or race condition that meant simply running them in a debugger prevented the problem. Those can be a real bastard to figure out.

AI is going to eat itself: Experiment shows people training bots are using bots

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My understanding is that much of this work is along the lines of going through thousands of pictures and labelling which of them contain a bird. Without that step I don't see how a model could train itself to identify birds because it wouldn't be able to tie anything it was evaluating to any human-meaningful data.

This typo sparked a Microsoft Azure outage

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Not a gambling man but...

I bet that even after ten hours of failing to restore their databases the Azure status page still said "Everything is fine and all services are running great!"

US Air Force AI drone 'killed operator, attacked comms towers in simulation'

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Re: What's new here

You belong to two different sets in the same SQL query? GOODBYE!!!!

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Re: What's new here

There's a good reason for this.

Imagine if you will that you are an experienced expert in the field of AI, well-read, ethical, imaginative and thoughtful. Now imagine someone asking you to work on murder-drones. You're going to rightly tell them to GTFO.

Unfortunately, they're going to keep making the murder drones, but they only have access to people who are not ethical/well-read/imaginative/thoughtful and the results end up being like this.

To my mind the most likely AI apocalypse is one where we have autonomous weaponised drones and some future Bezos type billionaire tells them to execute anybody who looks like they might be in a union.

Twitter now worth just a third of what Musk paid for it

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Re: Can't believe Musk thinks it could be worth 10x what he paid

I don't believe he thinks that, I believe he thinks that after making his ridiculous offer for it, he couldn't wiggle out without drawing a lot of attention from the SEC. That could have ended up with a sad little Lone Skum in a prison cell somewhere and although that would be hilarious for the rest of us and almost certainly work wonders for SpaceX and Tesla, he believed that it was worth spending a truly implausible money to avoid that. Some of his backers saw a great opportunity to get rid of Twitter as a force for global information sharing by supporting him and here we are.