* Posts by CynicalOptimist

40 publicly visible posts • joined 9 Mar 2010

Lawsuit: We've got the stats to prove Twitter ax fell unfairly on older, female engineers


not here to defend Musk, he's obviously a wrong'un and given he was sacking people left right and centre if they dared to question is wisdom in public, its hard to imagine the process was in any way fair. However, the statistical analysis is weak. Stats 101 for this type of analysis is to "control your variables" - meaning using statistical treatments to remove the effect of other factors. Hypothetically, those factors could be such things as women being over represented in the types of roles being made redundant or more senior roles being lost compared to junior roles, and older people being over represented in the senior roles. I don't know if either of those hypotheses are true, but neither does the 'statistician' coming up with their probability figures.

Windows XP activation algorithm cracked, keygen now works on Linux


there is a fun video on youtube which reverse engineers the algorithm that checks if a Win 95 product key is valid. It's titled "Why 111-1111111 is a valid Windows 95 key".

Chip shortages still plague carmakers despite weaker semiconductor demand


Previously, I'd read that Toyota (the inventor of 'Just in Time') were less affected by this issue in 2021 because they did keep a larger stockpile of chips, as a result of lessons they'd learnt from 2011 Tsunami / earthquake in Japan. So, I'd be interested to know why they are now impacted. Did they also cancel order or are the bottlenecks so bad now, that everyone is impacted, regardless.

Linus Torvalds suggests the 80486 architecture belongs in a museum, not the Linux kernel


Re: No loss of hardware support

As a kid, I remember my Dad upgrading a 486 SX2 50MHz to a 486 DX2 66 MHz. The new chip required a small heat sink. We also increased the ram from 4 MB to 8 MB, after which Transport Tycoon Deluxe ran like a dream.

Brexit dividend? 'Newly independent' UK will be world's 'data hub', claims digital minister


They should be called the scratched record party.

Their everlasting attack on what they characterise as "red tape" is so unbelievably boring now. Growth cannot be achieved by setting fire to regulations and tweaking the dials of the tax rates. There are fundamentals in an economy that you have to maintain and improve - long term strategic investment in infrastructure and education, access to finance, stability of country, lack of corruption, functioning healthcare, law and order etc.. but these things cost money and take time and they don't make good newspaper headlines or catchy soundbites.

UK.gov's decision on Newport Wafer Fab ownership delayed for third time


It is because we have a trade deficit that we also have to have a fairly open economy where foreign investors can buy UK based businesses (and hopefully inject money in them to fund their growth). According to the theory, high foreign investment counteracts the negative effect of money flowing out caused by a trade deficit.

You can only really be more protectionist about ownership of companies if you also try to re-focus the economy to be export driven.

Anyway, I am just off to drink a delicious glass of tap water supplied by Thames Water, which is 8% owned by the Chinese Investment Corporation (although the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System own a lot more).

That emoji may not mean what you think it means


This article sneers at the idea of not replying to all messages with a written response. Just the volume of messages these days makes that impractical. Plus for me, I'm not that great at quickly crafting an appropriately worded response to every message I get that - I don't fret as much about getting the tone wrong with an emoji (but I still fret a bit)... but as the article points out, I am reliant on the recipients having the same understanding of the emoji and the context it is used in as me - I think our shared understanding is getting better though. As an example, in the early days, I interpreted the thumbs up as a bit snide or sarcastic - but I've come to accept that it is almost always used genuinely. I used to get a bit put out by people texting me instead of calling me - but that now seems like an hilariously antiquated point of view.

Big Apple Apple Store workers hope to form union


Good luck to them. I doubt even $30 per hour leaves much spare at the end of the month in New York city, especially if you have dependants.

Google Chrome's upcoming crackdown on ad-blockers and other extensions still really sucks, EFF laments


As an alternative to ad blocking extensions in the browser, you can try a curated hosts file such as https://github.com/StevenBlack/hosts

It worked well for my laptop - not but easy to get to it working on a mobile device.

Eventually, I moved to Pi-hole running on a Raspberry pi zero (which uses the same block list as above). It's been up for over a year now and blocks most ads on any device connected to my network at home. If you want to extend this to working outside of your home network, I believe you can also configure Pi-hole to act as a VPN.

Windows 11 will roll out from October 5 as Microsoft hypes new hardware


I've been reading El Reg stories and the reader comments about new versions of Windows since I first started work in 2007 and discovered this corner of the internet during my lunchtimes. I'm a person who likes stability and predictability - other than the sun rising and setting, there is nothing more certain and predictable than a Windows release that causes anger, confusion and just sheer bewilderment. Every time, people marvel at the ingenious ways Microsoft have found to irritate and confound their users..

.. and long may it continue.

Scam-baiting YouTube channel Tech Support Scams taken offline by tech support scam


Scammers always need you to do something - because they don't have access to do it themselves. Your bank can put a block on any transactions in order to protect your account, but a scammer will ask you to transfer all of your money into a different account "to protect your money". So the question you have to ask yourself is "does it seem reasonable that I am being asked to take this action?"

Of course, the scammers put you into a heightened emotional state first by scaring you - your 'thinking slow' rational brain doesn't operate well in that mode and you are at a disadvantage.

You can level the playing field by keeping up with the current types of scams - that helps you to quickly recognise the patterns when you are contacted.

If the scam is very bespoke and highly targeted to a single individual - as I speculate the case is here - then it is more difficult to defend against. In this case, they weren't asking for money - so you have already lowered your defence a bit. The pattern of interaction with the scammers may have been very similar to previous legitimate interactions with YouTube support (for top creators). The video should be interesting!

Hyundai takes 80 per cent stake in terrifying Black Mirror robo-hound firm Boston Dynamics


Re: Random

Step five was the premise of the PC game Wargasm, released in 1998

This from the wikipedia article:

"The game is set in the year 2065, and the world's military forces have been transferred to the World Wide War Web in an effort to eliminate the loss of actual human life. Every country, whether they be a superpower or in the Third World, have been represented accordingly. Wars are fought through this system, and the winner of each battle takes the loser's electronic infrastructure. However, the system is flawed, and is prone to hacking. In this state of "wargasm," the world has fallen into a state of corruption. It is the player's duty to bring order back to the world."

FBI paid renegade developer $180k for backdoored AN0M chat app that brought down drug underworld


Excellent Value for Money

Obviously the total operational costs for the law enforcement agencies will run into the millions - but the fee paid to the dev - given the results, seems incredibly good value.

Preliminary report on Texas Tesla crash finds Autosteer was 'not available' along road where both passengers died


Seems like the local investigators might have been a bit quick to come to a conclusion that the driver's seat was unoccupied at the moment of impact.

Could the driver have not gone into the back after the accident because the front doors couldn't be opened for some reason? Damage, proximity to fire, remaining locked?

It's that last option that is most scary!

The world's first Apple Silicon iMac is actually a Mac Mini


I have the same era iMac - I painstakingly deconstructed it so that I could swap the processor - forgetting to put the optical drive back in during the reconstruction process! (it was behind me on the floor). The optical drive has now spent 5 happy years in my cupboard.

Cisco ordered to cough up $2bn – yes, two billion dollars – plus royalties after ripping off biz's cybersecurity patents


In chemistry it sometimes works like this:

Inventor A discovers new way to make product Y (e.g. high performance plastics, cancer curing drug) - a key part of the process being the use of molecule X in the chemical reaction. Molecule X is really the only novel part of the invention.

Inventor A wants to patent the overall process for making product Y because he/she considers it to be novel. Checks to see what variations of molecule X also work (such as, adding a little bit extra bit on the side). Files a patent describing invention and lists molecule X and as many variations of it as they could test. Patent is granted.

Inventor B looks at the patent and spots an obvious (to them) additional variation on molecule X that wasn't inlcuded in original patent. Makes and then tests additional variation - it works (hopefully the same or better). Now they file patent and they can take advantage of new invention too, without infringing on original patent.

If you have the resources to carry out your own research, then you can usually find a way round infringing on existing patent - or paying a licencing fee. Seems more difficult to do this in the world of software - at least, the assessment of what is and isn't an infringement seems much more difficult.

As Amazon pulls union-buster job ads, workers describe a 'Mad Max' atmosphere – unsafe, bullying, abusive


Re: There's a simple solution

I've not shopped at Amazon this year - and it's been fine. I've found plenty of online businesses that offer a great service - and sometimes these businesses have a smaller but better curated range (e.g. I like Howe Tools for power tools - I spend way less time reading possibly fake reviews and freting over whether I'm making the right choice).

It is hard though, as others have pointed out to completely boycott Amazon .. I have Netflix, and I'm sure they and many others host their service on AWS.

You can probably never be a completely ethical consumer - are you going to evaluate the supply chain right back to extracting minerals out of the ground? That doesn't mean we can't act on the information that is available..

Only EU can help us, pleads Slack as it slings competition complaint against Microsoft Teams


The most annoying thing about Teams is its name.. the application is called Teams and the 'groups' within it are called a Team. I regularly have conversations along the lines of: "Have you joined the X Team on Teams? And if you're talking about some group within your organisation, like a project team - you have to ask "does your team have a team in teams that I should join?"

Linus Torvalds banishes masters, slaves and blacklists from the Linux kernel, starting now


fml why did I invest 10 minutes of my life reading these comments.

LG's beer-making bot singlehandedly sucks all fun, boffinry from home brewing


Re: Why?

I think you've hit the nail on the head @AndyS

I would add a few more reasons

As a hobby:

3) It has a vibrant online community (and offline community if you live somewhere with a homebrew club)

4) It offers almost limitless possibilities for geeking out / developing your skills - from building your own brewing equipment to modifying the chemistry of your water - but at the same time, has a relatively gentle learning curve for those just starting out.

Brit inventor Dyson challenges EU ruling on his hoover's energy efficiency ratings


He could have strengthened his legal case if he’d teamed up with other manufacturers. Currently, he is operating in a vacuum.

Sheffield ISP: You don't need a whole IPv4 address to yourself, right?


Re: Sounds like...

a 'party line' was used as a plot device in the Doris Day romcom Pillow Talk to connect two strangers who antagonise each other at first but ultimately fall in love. Perhaps a 'party IP' remake is due. Better hurry up though, it will be an anachronistic joke soon (at least outside of the UK).

Bruce Willis didn't Buy Hard: His girls can't inherit his iTunes


obviously there is nothing stopping them copying the files - but clearly a man of great principle, our hero Bruce wants his wishes to be legally sound when declaring them on his last will and testament. Assuming he wins and is allowed to bequeath his digital music to his beloved daughters, they will then have to argue over who gets what. "Daddy would want me to have Angel by Robbie Williams" etc.

How talent-spotting boffins help Team GB bag Olympic gold


Tonnes of lottery funding for what are clearly well run programmes produces great athletes: perhaps not surprising. I would say this is despite the mixed quality of school sports infrastructure/teaching/support. My experience of secondary school sports was that of PE teachers who were bullies, a slavish adherence to the national curriculum which meant lessons often consisted of a couple of weeks learning about a random sport (e.g. volleyball) before moving onto something else without mastering even the basics and sports teams that were run voluntarily (albeit with more enthusiasm and less bullying!) by Geography, English and History teachers.

Insect vision a template for computer ‘sight’


I've heard there is a lot of buzz around these guys' research..

.. I'll get my coat

Developer leaks Microsoft product plans for next two years


after n posts..

For any story about Microsoft, what is the average number of posts before the discussion 'degenerates' into: why I love/hate the ribbon?

So, what IS the worst film ever made?


Nicholas Cage remake of The Wicker Man

Loyal NASA rover Opportunity enters 9th year of Mars boffinry


or 63 in dog years! Well done Rover.

NASA study identifies the ‘low hanging fruit’ in climate change


you can allow free roaming cows as long as you make them wear nappies

El Reg takes man for romantic weekend for two at Intel chip factory


healthy lunch?

I suppose baked chips are healthier than deep fried.

Cable employee admits replacing Superbowl feed with porn


in Germany, a cable channel employee once interrupted a porn film with footage of a sporting event.

Gay-bashing cult plans picket of Steve Jobs funeral


stop giving these loons the publicity they so desperately seek.

MPs label police IT 'not fit for purpose'


The public sector: putting the IT back into shit since time immemorial.

Dell Alienware M18x 18.4in gaming notebook


If it's portability you need just buy a desktop of equivalent spec instead and with the money saved you can hire a sedan chair + crew to transport you and your machine wherever you need to be.

World 3D TV sales to jump in 2011


Next Generation?

I have no need for a 3D tellie because the only programme I watch is Star Trek: The Next Generation on DVD (indeed, even bog-standard widescreen is unnecessary too). Some may consider it ironic that I shun new technology because of my obsession with the past's vision of the future.

Commodore 64 revivalist posts prototype PC pics

Thumb Down

Ben Heck

Not to be confused with Glen Beck.

This guy puts current and past tech in custom made boxes.. e.g. xbox 360 gubbins in a replica Atari case.


He releases a new episode of his show every fortnight and the results of his projects are impressive. What's taking C64 USA so long?

Fukushima's toxic legacy: Ignorance and fear


IT helpdesk

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

Photo loss blogger to Flickr: You're f*cking kidding



In theory, companies learn by their mistakes and improve their products and services as a result. But in the brave new world of the cloud, many more users of paid for (and free) web services will find themselves the victims of human error and weaknesses in system design. Still, in the case of flickr, with millions of unique users, you have to be pretty unlucky for something like this to happen to you (which is clearly no comfort if it does happen!).

Ms. Gates: 'Bill does not use a Mac'

Gates Horns


"There's nothing that the iPod does that I say, 'Oh, wow, I don't think we can do that.'"

This is a particularly meaningless statement. Essentially Apple did the hard work in terms of functionality, usability, style etc. and then Bill Gates said "yeah, we could copy that". Well done Microsoft, except that your attempt was poor.

Daily Mail reader out-tw*ts the Tw*t-O-Tron


Sharia Law.. it's too good for em'

I like how the Mail is simultaneously pro harsh punishments for criminals (death penalty, long custodial sentences, life-means-life etc) while being anti Sharia law. If the Mail was consistent, it would launch a campaign to have Sharia law introduced in Britain, instead of writing scare-mongering articles about it. But then if the Mail was consistent, rational or logical about anything it would have fewer readers than the Independent.