* Posts by Eclectic Man

1688 posts • joined 4 Jun 2010

Chocgate: The fallout. Partially taxpayer-funded £6k+ staff luxury treats land ICO in lukewarm water

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Re: Value?

Peter2: "The way almost everywhere works is the carrot and the stick."

According to a managerial friend of mine, the stick is used to push the carrot further up your a^*e. (We all know how management hate getting her hands dirty.)

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Hotel Chocolate?





(No, I don't get commission.)

Texas cops sue Tesla claiming 'systematic fraud' in Autopilot after Model X ploughed into two parked police cars

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I thought that this situation is exactly what people are required to get driving insurance for. I can only assume that the precedents for an insurance claim against the drunk 'driver' means that less money would be received and also less publicity about the Tesla 'self-drive' capability.

Actually the day I'm looking forward to is when the family of Nicola Tesla sues for bringing the name of that great inventor into disrepute - in America pretty much anything seems to be litigable so it could happen.

Fake 'BT' caller fleeces elderly victim of £30k in APP app scam

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Re: Amazon iPhone 7

I've always wanted to say:

"Umm, look, do you mind if I ask you some personal questions?

Basically I was wondering how you got into the telephone fraud business. Do you make a lot of money scamming people out of their savings? Are the hours ok? I'm at a loose end at the moment and could do with a bit of work."

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Amazon iPhone 7

A few weeks ago, while I was visiting my father he got a phone call purporting to be from Amazon, saying that his order of an iPhone 7 was on its way. He hung up, eventually. It was, of course a recorded message, so presumably the scammers just cannot be bothered to update it to a more recent model.

(I have to say that if anyone is still ordering an iPhone 7 for £695, it is news to me.)

Amazon delivery staff 'denied bonus' pay by AI cameras misjudging their driving

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Re: AI driving assessment

In the UK*, if someone sends you an unsolicited item, if you tell them then they have six weeks to arrange return / collection or it becomes yours. If you don't tell them you have to wait six months. before it is legally yours*. Generally for small items the cost of return and processing is so much that it is uneconomic.

*Please check with your local Citizen's Advice Bureau before taking the work of an internet commentator/troll on any matter of law.

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Re: AI driving assessment

Oh, you mean like how many times the players in white passed the basketball?


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AI driving assessment

The denying of bonus payments to drivers who are 'cut up' by other drivers seems harsh, although a lot of vehicles are fitted with dash cams nowadays. So there ought to be an effective appeals process. Of course if the car cutting them up is a Tesla on autopilot ...

I remember driving a motorbike around Leeds when I was a student. The number of times I was cut up by careless car and van drivers was scary. 'Sorry mate, I didn't see you'. Really? It is broad daylight, I am wearing a bright yellow reflective tabard and my headlamp is on. How much more visible do I have to be? Eventually I gave up as I considered that other road users made it too dangerous.

UK government isn't keeping track of the risk posed by legacy systems, says Central Digital and Data Office

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I've got a little list

I once interviewed some local government civil servants about their IT systems that they wanted to outsource. They did not know any of the following in detail:

What systems they had.

What hardware they were using.

What applications they were running.

Who had access to their data.

Their network topology.

The constraints on other organisations' staff using their data.

The constraints on using data provided by other organisations. (In fact they did not seem to understand that there might be constraints on their uses of data received form other organisations.)

Their current OS's, and patch status.

And yes, I was talking to their senior IT team.

The idea that HMG could possibly get together a list of even the most important 10% of their (outdated) legacy systems with any accuracy is frankly mind-boggling.

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re: Contractors

Well, Dido Harding* is available, and has experience of Excel spreadsheets. (What could possibly go wrong?)

*I apologise for swearing this early in the day.

Want to feel old? Aussie cyclist draws Nirvana baby in Strava on streets of Adelaide because Nevermind is 30

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The now adult young gentleman on the cover of 'Nirvana' is rather upset that pretty much the entire population of the Western world has seen his infant willy, and is suing for compensation. Can't say I blame him really, as it must be it embarrassing trying to ask someone out and getting the obvious questions and comments.

Nothing works any more. Who decided that redundant systems should become redundant?

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Re: Chuddies (sort of)

Belatedly reminded me of an exchange in 'The Big Bang Theory'.

In Amy's lab, Sheldon is trying to 'help'.

Amy: "hmm there is a drying mark on this beaker, please clean it again."

Sheldon: "It's clean!"

Amy: "This beaker last held urine from an elephant that died of syphilis. If it's sterile, drink from it."

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Re: Chuddies (sort of)

imanidiot: ""The 'underband' is in inches, minus either 4 or 5, depending on manufacturers' whim"

Actually no."

How DARE you SIR! You have impugned my honour! I demand satisfaction! This means handbags at Dawn.*

imanidiot: "And no, I won't go into why I know all that as a blokey-bloke"

Are you, perchance, a lumberjack?


*I understand that Dawn is getting a bit fed up about this, but it is the only recourse of gentlemen to settle an issue of honour.

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Re: Chuddies (sort of)

Evil Scot: "Dabbs is at the age where the Dr will give him the middle finger."


IN his excellent medical / comedy radio show on BBC Radio 4 last week*, Dr Phil Hammond recounted an experience of his when he started medical training. At the initial human anatomy class where he would start to dissect a real human cadaver, the lecturer stated:

"There are two things you must have to succeed as a doctor. First be disgusted at NOTHING". Whereupon he inserted a finger up the anus of the nearest corpse, and then into his mouth.

The assembled, and nauseated students then queued up and did likewise. Hammond said it didn't taste faecal at all, just a bit 'disinfectant' like.

After the students had all accomplished this task, the lecturer continued:

"The second thing essential to success as a doctor is OBSERVATION! The observant among you will have noticed that I put my index finger in the anus and my middle finger in my mouth."

Lesson well and truly learnt by all.


* https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000zmjl (log in required)

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Re: Chuddies (sort of)


My face is a red as a beetroot supernova!

Oh well, it is Friday, I suppose. Have a pint for a good spot.

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Chuddies (sort of)

I was listening to an edition of 'More or Less' on Radio 4 a while ago, and one of the statistical questions the came up was 'is it true that 80% of women wear the wring size bra?'

Rather a delicate subject for 9:00 on a Wednesday morning, but it seems that it is in fact the case. There is no 'standard' size measurement system for the female bra. The 'underband' is in inches, minus either 4 or 5, depending on manufacturers' whim, and the 'cup' size is related to the underband size, rather than volume. So a 33C from one company can be a completely different size to a 33C form another. Though I suspect this is not the case with chuddies or indeed, Y-Fronts.

So, Mr Dabbs, you are not alone in having 'difficulties' with your supportive (or otherwise) undergarments.

(On a serious note, if you have a sudden unexpected pain or size issue 'down below', you MUST see a doctor a.s.a.p., just in case it is not the chuddies which are at fault.)

Facebook overpaid FTC fine by up to '$4.9bn' to protect Zuckerberg, lawsuits allege

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Compo and Clegg*

I guess that after working for 'Dave' Cameron, Cleggy reckoned that being employed by Mark Zuckerberg would be the next best thing. I expect he is being paid quite well, but is it really enough for an immortal soul? Only time will tell.

*(A reference to 'Last of the Summer Wine', a BBC TV sitcom set in Yorkshire about some old retirees and their gentle japes and misadventures in their 'autumnal' years. Starred the late Peter Sallis as Clegg. He also voiced Wallace in the Nick Park 'Wallace and Gromit' Oscar-winning animations.)

UK's Surveillance Commissioner warns of 'ethically fraught' facial recognition tech concerns

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Re: Far simpler to ban them all

tiggity: "I'm the one not carrying a table leg, just to be on the safe side."

I don't think any AI system was actually used when Harry Stanley* was wrongly identified as carrying a shotgun (wrapped in a plastic bag) in a pub. In that instance as far as I recall. the police failed to check with the pub if anyone else reckoned he was carrying a firearm, the telephone call 'tip-off' was anonymous and the armed police officers who challenged him seem to have been convinced he was armed, rather than trying to ascertain what he was carrying. In my view (and I wasn't on the jury, so didn't see all the evidence) his killing was a serious failure of police procedure (not checking the tip off) and training (not considering that he might not be carrying a firearm).

The problem was that in the inquest, all of the interest was on whether the police officers who shot him were guilty of 'unlawful killing', instead of questioning their training and the police procedures that night. Had I been on the jury I would have tried to insist that the training fo the officers and the failure to check with the pub were considered in the verdict.

If you were accosted in the dark in a street by armed men who shouted at you to "put the gun down!" what would you do?




We're all at sea: Navigation Royal Navy style – with plenty of IT but no GPS

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No need for paper charts

Just ensure you have Polynesian help:


"Polynesian navigation was used for thousands of years to enable long voyages across thousands of kilometres of the open Pacific Ocean. Polynesians made contact with nearly every island within the vast Polynesian Triangle, using outrigger canoes or double-hulled canoes. The double-hulled canoes were two large hulls, equal in length, and lashed side by side. The space between the paralleled canoes allowed for storage of food, hunting materials, and nets when embarking on long voyages. Polynesian navigators used wayfinding techniques such as the navigation by the stars, and observations of birds, ocean swells, and wind patterns, and relied on a large body of knowledge from oral tradition.

Navigators travelled to small inhabited islands using wayfinding techniques and knowledge passed by oral tradition from master to apprentice, often in the form of song. Generally, each island maintained a guild of navigators who had very high status; in times of famine or difficulty, they could trade for aid or evacuate people to neighbouring islands. As of 2014, these traditional navigation methods are still taught in the Polynesian outlier of Taumako in the Solomons and by voyaging societies throughout the Pacific.

Both wayfinding techniques and outrigger canoe construction methods have been kept as guild secrets, but in the modern revival of these skills, they are being recorded and published."

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Re: "two main reasons why the Royal Navy no longer uses [paper charts]"

They have obviously upgraded from Windows NT then:



A system failure on the USS Yorktown last September temporarily paralyzed the cruiser, leaving it stalled in port for the remainder of a weekend.

"For about two-and-a-half hours, the ship was what we call 'dead in the water,'" said Commander John Singley of the Atlantic Fleet Surface Force.


Don't forget to leave a rating: Amazon chairman meeting with UK prime minister to talk taxes

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Re: he will discuss the “challenges” of taxing giant tech corporations in a digital economy

or unless you want an opposing candidate to get lots of funding and other sorts of support at the next election.

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Philosophy of taxation

The philosophy of taxation has been argued over for, literally, millennia. Julius Caesar was assassinated in part because he wanted to tax the rich landowners more. More recently rich people who own companies have claimed they shouldn't have to pay tax on their personal income as they 'provide jobs' for lots of people who do pay taxes (and, in the UK, National Insurance). Then, of course there is the 'only the little people pay taxes' attitude of some rich folk.

I don't doubt that Mr Bezos is just as keen to avoid (rather than evade) as much tax as possible, so he can play with his rockets. And I don't doubt that Boris will be as unsuccessful at getting the rich multinational corporations to pay taxes in the countries where they do business as other politicians have been.

Now I must look into how much I can put into my ISA this year...

US Federal Aviation Administration issues draft assessment of SpaceX Super Heavy impact

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During the '60s the USA was in an ICBM arms race with the Soviet Union. NASA was doing important research for the DoD into rocketry, guidance and re-entry (it seems that orbital projectiles are the easy bit, the tricky bit is not burning up on re-entry). So there would have been no chance to Mercury, Gemini or Apollo being cancelled or curtailed due to environmental concerns. After all JFK even got the USA voting public to accept a tax increase to pay for Apollo as part of a national pride exercise. (but see 'Whitey on the Moon' for an alternative reaction https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goh2x_G0ct4 .)

Clegg on its face: Facebook turns to former UK deputy PM to fend off damaging headlines

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Incapable or unwilling?

The article says that the US politicians believe that FaceBook is incapable of holding itself to account. I don't agree, I think they are perfectly capable of holding themselves to account - they just find it more profitable not to, and so I'd say "unwilling"

Is it OK to use stolen data? What if it's scientific research in the public interest?

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Past crimes

In 1828, Burke and Hare murdered people and sold the corpses to Robert Knox, who taught human anatomy to medical students in Edinburgh.* Undoubtedly some of those students educated on the corpses or murder victims went on to save lives, and benefit 'society' as a whole. They were caught when one of the corpses was recognised as a young lady who had recently been reported missing. So pretty much anyone alive today in the West who has benefitted from medicine in any way has probably benefitted for the murders committed by Burke and Hare either directly by having surgery from someone educated in a direct line of medics to those taught using the corpses, or indirectly by benefitting from someone who benefitted either directly or indirectly.

The problems with benefiting from historical crimes are that you don't get the choice and in some ways it can be taken as validating the crimes, which can mean that people today justify present day crimes by Machiavelli's dictum "the end justifies the means". In the 20th century there is a whole history of illegal medical experiments conducted on unknowing victims, often on black people**.

Using illegally obtained data for beneficial research is probably not as contentious as conducting often fatal medical experiments on innocent victims, but the ethics of doing so are, in my mind related.

I don't have an answer that I find comfortable. On the one hand, crimes are crimes because they should not be committed, but scientific advances benefit people and the environment, possibly including me.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burke_and_Hare_murders

** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unethical_human_experimentation_in_the_United_States

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Re: when is collected data stolen? - Folk Songs

The song 'Scarborough Fair' (aka 'Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme'), recorded by Simon and Garfunkel, and is actually a song of the Anderson family in NE England. Simon and Garfunkel attribute it to P Simon and Art Garfunkel.

This is AUKUS for China – US, UK, Australia reveal defence tech-sharing pact

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Re: The only credible regional threat Australia faces is China

I am so stupid. Of course the new Aussie subs won't be nuclear armed, they will have cruise missiles loaded with native Oz fauna. So any hint of aggression from the PRC and they'll be 100 funnelweb spiders on their way to Shanghai, accompanied by some Eastern Brown Snakes and Tiger snakes.


I'm ordering my bicycle clips right now.

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Re: What are they calling chips downunder?


I understand that McDonalds 'French Fries' are actually made of cornflour. 'Chips' refers to chopped up potatoes which have been fried. So McDonalds has to refer to their offering as 'Fries' otherwise they would be done for misrepresentation.


NASA's Perseverance rover nabs two Martian rock samples for scientists on Earth to study one day

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Re: Finding them again

I think that Persey will keep them all on board and the collection mission will be a rendezvous. So just a location beacon should be adequate.

(Of course that assumes that the martian police don't step in and do a 'stop and search', and confiscate them first.)

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I expect that the weight constraints of landing something on Mars capable of lift-off and returning to Earth orbit means that including a rover element as well, that can trundle out collecting its own samples means that it is more efficient to separate the missions into one that collects and one that returns the samples.

The other issue is that landing a rocket on mars with the ability to return involves a canister of rocket fuel, with the potential for rapid disassembly were anything to go wrong. In that event it would be far better to lose merely the return mission than the whole analyse and collect mission too.

I too hope I'm still around when the samples are returned.

On another matter, I hope I'm still around in 2037 when Hubble or something else observes a supernova again:


Gravitational lensing means we have got lots of warning of a delayed view.

BT hails hollow-core fibre trials as 'critical advancement' for secure communications

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Empty space may lack atomic defects, but the hollow fibre is probably 'filled' with air. Even so this makes it far better at transmitting light than glass.

Right to contest automated AI decision under review as part of UK government data protection consultation

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Re: Be afraid, be very afraid.

I think it is a combination of (2) and being entirely confident that these AI systems will never make any decisions about them. They are wrong about the latter, of course, but if, for example, a flawed AI system* was used for crime fighting, it is unlikely to affect 'Millionaires Row' as much as it does areas where 'poor people' live.

Bu then, if a cabinet minister cannot tell the difference between an England Footballer and a Rugby Union player, what chance has AI got?**. (And no, Mr Williamson, Black people do not 'all look the same', or indeed sound the same.)

*https://www.theregister.com/2021/08/25/shotspotter_chicago_report/ ,


** https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/gavin-williamson-marcus-rashford-maro-itoje-b1916299.html

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Yes, Minister?


The UK government is proposing to implement “a more flexible and risk-based accountability framework which is based on privacy management programmes”.

“Under this framework, organisations would be required to implement a privacy management programme tailored to their processing activities and ensure data privacy management is embraced holistically rather than just as a 'box-ticking' exercise,” he said.



So soon after the data breach by McDonalds (https://www.theregister.com/2021/09/09/mcdonalds_database_credentials_blunder/). the idea of a 'holistic approach' to security sounds like an episode of 'Yes, Minister'.

As for a 'risk-based accountability framework', WTF is one of those? OH, hang on, we had one of those for dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic didn't we? So far about 134,000 deaths, although arguably the dominating risk guiding policy and decisions was Boris Johnson's popularity, rather than the risk to life for vulnerable people in care homes.

I need a drink.


Biggest takeaway from pandemic lockdowns for Microsoft? Teams stopped talking to each other

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I once had a desk in an open plan office at the junction of three separate teams who all shared the same floor. I must confess that there was some very distracting 'sharing' of results from two teams to me, being within earshot of lots of conversations.

I also had the 'experience' that the person sat immediately to my right was a heavy smoker. Every now and then he would disappear for 15 or so minutes and return literally stinking of tobacco smoke (sorry for the offence caused to smokers by this revelation, but I'm asthmatic so found this particularly irritating).

Some cross team sharing is not always welcome. Although hearing one of my neighbours say over the phone "don't get on your high horse with me", was a bit startling (he was speaking to his daughter).

On the other hand, every other Friday afternoon I have a conference call with my former colleagues at work, and catch up on all their gripes and worries, which is fun.

McDonald's email blunder broadcasts database creds to comedy competition winners

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Re: security.txt

But the Register does have ample links allowing you to contact staff. There is a 'corrections' link for each article, and checking elsewhere on the site provides e-mail contacts for various journalists and editors.

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Re: "We take data privacy very seriously"

"Those affected will be contacted to reassure them that this was a human error and that their information remains safe. We take data privacy very seriously and apologise for any undue concern this error has caused,"

Well, that is so reassuring. Though they are hardly going to say they don't give a toss about user data security in a country with GDPR enacted.

I rather like the term "undue concern" in the above message. They are not apologising for genuine reasonable concern caused by the breach, just "undue concern".

We're going deeper underground: New digital project to map UK's sub-surface 'assets'

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Re: HGV damage: One BT data centre that handles Critical National Infrastructure (such as 'Blue Light' services) is at the end of a cul-de-sac. Sometimes HGV drivers 'park' their lorries on the verge, not realising that it is not strong enough for the 40+ tonnes and collapses the duct ceiling protecting all those important cables.

I heard once that vehicles do damage proportional to the 5th power of the axel weight. So although electric cars are better for removing exhaust pollution, as they can weigh up to 1 tonne more than the equivalent petrol version, they do substantially more road damage. (The Land Rover iPace weighs in at 2 tonnes.)

Also the rat population UK (and here I mean rattus rattus, not the human kind) increased substantially after privatisation of the water utilities as previously under public ownership local councils had access to drains and sewers etc to place rat poison. Now they are privately owned, councils no longer have access and the rats have lovely poison-free homes to breed in.

Why does life have to be so complicated?

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Re: Prior art

Nonsense, its easy, I can find mine - they are in the middle of my arms :o)

Australia rules Facebook page operators are legally liable for user comments under posts

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Innocent until proven guilty

"Voller's case began after the Australian Broadcasting Corporation published pictures of him being hooded and shackled to a chair by police workers, highlighting the brutal treatment meted out to juvenile criminal suspects."

I have to say that I sympathise with anyone photographed in that circumstance. It must be very humiliating for Voller not only to have images of himself treated like that, but to have, presumably unsympathetic, comments made about him as well. No I don't know what he was / is accused of or whether he is guilty, but the general principal of fair trials is that the defendant should be treated as innocent until proven guilty (at least in most countries).

Council culture: Software test leads to absurd local planning SNAFU

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How is it that a system publishing legally biding council responses was not strictly account managed and protected with (at least) passwords, and, hopefully two factor authentication and a mandatory check for authorisation?

Everything that is published on an official web site that is legally binding should be validated by a second person before publication, or at the very least only be accessible to someone with the appropriate authority and responsibility.

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Re: this process could cost the council £8,000 in taxpayer funds.

Not "Tiger", "Leopard"*.


*HHGTTG, Series One, Fit the First.

Italian stuntman flies aeroplane through two motorway tunnels

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Re: Up for a challenge?

This chap was not so sensible:


"A man has been jailed after driving a car down a railway track, causing eight-hour passenger delays.

Aaron O'Halloran was caught on CCTV driving down the line for half a mile between Duddeston and Aston stations in Birmingham on 9 May.

Police said the 32-year-old, of Proctor Street in the city, caused damage totalling more than £23,000."

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Re: I suspect there's some software involved

I suspect grant the pilot just needs to concentrate on the light at the end of the tunnel and fly towards that. They were straight tunnels, so as there would be zero crosswind, once you're in the centre you don't need to monitor your wingtips, just concentrate on flying straight.*

*Harder that it sounds, from my personal experience of 'open air' flying, so congrats to the pilot for keeping it all in one piece.

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Re: I suspect there's some software involved

stiin: "They dodge trees, power poles, barns, etc, while flying at speed just above the crops."

Yup, crop dusting is for pilots who are scared of heights.

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An RAF Wing Commander I once had as a client told me a story of an Air Commodore who, on a training flight with a young pilot, on a whim, decided to fly the Chipmunk light aircraft through a hanger. When he emerged he was busted to Pilot Officer.

Report details how Airbus pilots saved the day when all three flight computers failed on landing

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The actual issue here seems to be that a COM/MON issue that caused the main computer to fail was passed on to the first backup computer in the knowledge (well if the designers had thought about it, it would have been in the knowledge) that it would also cause the first backup computer to fail, and would then be passed on to the second backup and cause it to fail too.

The conflict of rudder operation between airborne and landing rules in the circumstances of a wet runway, and presumably some crosswind or a less that perfect three-point landing should have been foreseen and covered. Certainly shutting down a flight control computer due to incompatible input and sending that input directly to another computer which the same input would also shut down is poor design philosophy. The 'fix' should cover all situations like this, not just this specific one.

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Unfortunately that is not always the correct response. Sometimes, such as when the end of the runway is approaching all too quickly the correct response to ERR is 'full throttle" and let's hope we can clear the trees.

But, as you say, Kudos to the pilots.

US Air Force chief software officer quits after launching Hellfire missile of a LinkedIn post at his former bosses

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Re: Putting mid-level lackies into significant positions of power

That is one of the major points made in the excellent (but scary) book "The Blunders of our Governments" by Anthony King and Ivor Crewe (ISBN 978-1-78074-405-6) about failures by UK governments.* Comparing the competence of ministers who move jobs frequently in the UK to ministers who are in post for several years in some European countries (such as Germany).

One comes to the conclusion that, worryingly, no-one is actually running the country, no-one has a general plan, and pretty much everything is done for political expediency rather than long term benefit (because there is always the chance that the next government will get the credit for your hard work).

*Both Conservative and Labour governments are considered, although everything is, of necessity, in hindsight, so there is little consideration of the competing events and decisions calling on ministers' attention.

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Re: To be fair ?

In many professional organisations, such as accountancy firms, legal practices, and especially financial organisations such s stockbrokers partnerships, one of the partners will have authority over each of the 'housekeeping' functions, like building maintenance, IT, catering etc. They will not have personal expertise in that area (apart from actually using the results), but they will have the authority to make decisions and fire people (underlings and non-partners) under them who do not perform.

Strangely there is some confusion over 'having authority' and 'having control'. The former indicates that you can make decisions, the latter indicates that you have some actual understanding of the results of the decisions you make in the real world. If only I could think of an example in real life at the moment to sow you what I mean ...

Also, apologies, I missed off the \begin{sarcasm} and \end{sarcasm} from my final paragraph. Sorry.

Apple stalls CSAM auto-scan on devices after 'feedback' from everyone on Earth

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"Apple – rather than actually engaging with the security community and the public"

Nonsense, I'm certain that when Tim Cook read the Register's article (https://www.theregister.com/2021/08/17/corellium_apple_bounty/) and the comments on the associated forum he IMMEDIATELY had second thoughts.

Chalk this one up as a victory for the Register and have a beer :o) -->


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