* Posts by Charles King

132 publicly visible posts • joined 23 Nov 2007


Boffins build a NAZI AI – wait, let's check that... OK, it's a grammar nazi

Charles King

What we really need

For this to really be useful, it needs to be built into those smart speakers they have these days. Then whip up a bit of code to have it scan the audio from my TV and shout 'That's *fewer* goals, you fucking moron! FEWER!' at appropriate times while I sit and relax on a Saturday afternoon. That would save me a lot of work.


Developer’s code worked, but not in the right century

Charles King

From our Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease Dept.

"the bonus points were honoured for those customers who spotted them and quietly removed from those who hadn’t"

Moral of the day: complain loudly every time you can, because any customer who thinks a company can be trusted to do the right thing without someone standing over them will end up sadly disappointed.

Honor bound: Can Huawei's self-cannibalisation save the phone biz?

Charles King

Re: Obvious way to differentiate?

Updates for five years?

Ok, I'm going to be *that guy* and point out that the latest 11.3 version of iOS runs (barely) on the 5S, a phone released in Sept 2013. So not quite 5 years yet, but close. Fruit-huggers always manage to be subtly irritating, but updates are one area where Cupertino has always managed to blow the green bot out of the park.

China's moon rover dies of extreme old age, after two-and-a-half years

Charles King

The sour grapes in this article is typical Register jocularity, but it might be worth reflecting on how long Britain's stationary Beagle robot lasted on Mars...

It's good going for their first landing, and most importantly this isn't a one-off and the Chinese have a solid program of continuing exploration, the next step being a sample-return mission to blast-off next year with a crewed mission scheduled for the middle of the 2020's.

Google Nexus 7 shipping cock-up enrages fandroids

Charles King


The Nexus 7 launch has been a fiasco.

I was wary of pre-ordering one because I knew what hassles happened to those who'd bought a Nexus 1 direct from Google back in the day, but stupidly thought that now Google offer a phone number they must have jacked up their customer relations. Haha, not a chance.

The message here is clear - do not, EVER, buy anything direct from Google. They simply don't have the first clue about handling retail.

By all reports the actual tablet is pretty nice - it damn well better be after the amount of garbage they've put me through.

Using virtual particles to get real random numbers

Charles King

"particles and anti-particles spontaneously come into existence and annihilate so as to preserve the uncertainty principle"

Somehow, I don't think they're doing this just to make Heisenberg happy...

How Apple beat IBM in Steve Jobs' first retail war

Charles King
Thumb Up

"Apple produced glossy 4-color packaging for the //c, which had all the sales information written right on the box"

Aha! So every time I ask a salesgrunt a question and they answer it by reading off the box I know who to blame! (Answer: myself, for not reading the box in the first place and thinking that I'd get an intelligent answer from the floor staff).

Am I the only person who saw 'spiffs' and thought, 'Wow, I knew Apple was laid back in those days, but I didn't think that extended to handing out d... Oh, right, it's an acronym....'?

How digital audio ate itself and the music industry

Charles King
Thumb Up

Nice one

Looking forward to the next instalment.

Two-channel digital audio was a reality at the BBC in the early '70s, so I was surprised to hear it took another 10 years to get it to work in commercial multi-track systems. The ad on page 1 shows they were using these recorders with an analogue mixing desk, with all the conversion problems that involved. How long did it take for full digital mixing to happen? I still remember record companies making a big fuss about selling compact discs with full 'DDD' recordings, and I'm sure that had become fairly standard in the early 90s.

Almost didn't click on this one as the title made it look like some more crap from Orlowski, glad I did ;).

Bill Gates strangled Microsoft's 'tablet for creatives'

Charles King

"they're married to this idea that every PC Phone and Tablet can have this unified system and interface"

So ... very similar to what Apple is trying to do? Or have you failed to notice how Lion is designed to make Macs work like the iPad?

I liked the Courier promo video as well, but without a communications (email, IM, twitter, etc) strategy in place it would have been a disaster.

Akira Blu-ray remastered disc set

Charles King


"Not only does the extended frequency response make Ohashi’s memorable, pounding score richer than Kobe beef"

HAHAHA pull the other one. I assume your tongue was firmly in your cheek when you wrote that. Whatever excuses might be made to justify 96kHz (poor brickwall filters, perhaps) completely fail to have relevance for anything over that. Any mastering gear that isn't 24bit these days is bargain-basement, but 16bit/48kHz is all you need for delivery to the consumer.

G. Bartlett's right - digital mastering gear was pretty ropey until well into the 90s, so there is a reason to go back to the original analog tapes and re-digitise them. But it's got nothing to do with throwing fancy numbers at it, unless yuou;re the sort of clueless nerd who gets impressed by such things.

Steve Jobs chops student hack down to size

Charles King
Jobs Halo

Go Steve!

Presumably Apple's PR dept has better things to do than answer inane questions from random dweebs, which is why they never returned her calls (neither would I).

Yeah, Steve should have kept his mouth shut and just kicked a cat or something, but I can't blame him when I'd have been tempted to use less temperate language.

Of course, this whole thing is almost certainly a hoax from some sad little girl who's desperate for attention.

Nikon points D7000 camera at high-end enthusiasts

Charles King

Canon still losing the race

Given this model is clearly designed to occupy the ~£800 point on the street, this is a rather more impressive introduction than Canon's lacklustre 60D. (Spoken as a Canon user :( )

Greenland ice loss rates 'one-third' of what was thought

Charles King

It goes up and then down, but is still higher at the end.

"The level of the water on the side of the glass will in fact be lower once the melting is complete."

Err, no.

If the block of ice (with shot inside) was floating at the start, then there was a volume of ice which was buoyed up above the water and thus was not contributing to the water level. The water level will be highest at the point where the ice+lead block has lost just enough ice to become completely submerged (since there's now no ice outside the water and the ice is, of course, less dense), and it will then decline as the rest of the low-density ice changes to water. But the final water level will still be higher than that at the start.

Charles King

Only 600Gt? Must have fallen down the back of the sofa

Non-pay link for the analysis by Bromwich & Nicolas: http://polarmet.osu.edu/PolarMet/PMGFulldocs/bromwich_nicolas_ngeo_2010.pdf

Given the impoverished level of scientific understanding present among most 'decision makers', we can be sure that idiots will use this new calculation to race around shouting, "Don't worry folks! We've only lost 600Gt! Keep on partying!"

Alleged bad Appler pleads not guilty

Charles King

Looks like Cresyn needs a new consultant

For $6k a month I'll be happy to paraphrase news articles and blog posts, er... provide you with valuable market information that will be invaluable for your future business. Just remember that I'll need to be paid in used fivers.

Plane crash kills 'series of tubes' Senator Ted Stevens

Charles King

Good riddance to bad rubbish

$450million of federal funds wasted on the infamous 'bridge to nowhere' (a huge payday for his cronies). Hundreds of thousands of dollars accepted in bribes and kickbacks (and that's just the payola that could be proven).

Stevens was a gangster who engineered the longest succession of scams and rackets in American history. It's ironic, but not really surprising, that this fine specimen of how big federal government can fail was a stalwart of the GOP. Corrupt to the core, he will not be missed.

BTW, you forgot to mention that he died while on a trip to yet another junket at a fishing lodge paid for by a telecoms company. The trivial matter of losing his seat in disgrace wasn't about to stop him peddling influence for personal gain.

Moon actually dryer than dem dry bones, say boffins

Charles King

No H2O for yuo!

Damn those speccy spoilsports! They're just jealous 'cause astronauts get all the girls.

OTOH, the Apollo landing sites were clustered around equatorial latitudes, so there's still the possibility that the situation near the poles is different.

Polaroid 300 instant print camera

Charles King

'Creatively' crap

Sorry, but were those shots supposed to be in focus?

Yes, I can see this appealing to the same crowd that goes for the Holga. It'll definitely find a niche among the retro analogue snobs who think that adding random garbage equals creativity.

Armed with exploits, ATM hacker hits the jackpot

Charles King

1990 says Hi

Signed executables - hasn't that been a pretty basic pretty basic security measure for the last decade?

The Camel: Nokia unveils user designed phone

Charles King

Where's the THX 7.1 Surround?

'Dolby Stereo Speakers' ON A PHONE

My WTFmeter just went into meltdown.

Steve Jobs denies Judas Phone antenna problems

Charles King

Have some cake, you need it

I read quite a few gormless defences of Apple, but this takes the cake.

If your new phone drops calls *twice as often* as the old one, then that's a rise of 100%. Trying to debate that is identical to trying to debate whether 1+1=2.

Yes, I suspect that the rise is significant because I doubt that 50% of all calls are being dropped - that would be a failure rate sufficient to make the phone completely unusable. *Either* the rise in dropped calls is significant, *or* the iPhone was already an incredibly shit phone. You decide, you have to pick one of those, which do you prefer?

If you're in an area with good signal strength then the iPhone 4 is perfectly usable, no-one's suggesting otherwise. The problems arise in areas with marginal strength where the loss from antenna bridging lowers the signal below a functional threshold. This is also why data concerning the total number of dropped calls (a binary event) is useless as a means of comparing phones. What you want to know is the percentage rise in dropped calls in areas with marginal reception (which are still very common). If you make 198 calls in an area with good strength and they all get through, then make 2 calls in an area on the margins and both fail, then you only have an overall failure rate of 1 call per hundred. But that's scant comfort if you really needed to make a call in the second area.

Another useful statistic might be the average download speed actually achieved, since that's sensitive enough to track across a range of signal impairments.

Charles King
Jobs Horns

Misleading statistics - read what he actually said

"Jobs did admit that the iPhone 4 does drop more calls than its predecessor, but by only a miniscule amount: fewer than one per cent more."

That's NOT what he said.

He said it was 'one call per hundred' more. So, if the 3GS dropped one call in every hundred, the 4 would be dropping 2 - a rise of 100%. If the 3GS was dropping 50 calls in every hundred, the 4 is dropping 51, a rise of only 2%. Somehow, I suspect the first case is what's happening, or something close, so the rise is dropped calls is probably highly significant.

Apple massaged the stats in a way that hides the true rise in dropped calls and leads people to think they're insignificant - you're not the only suckers who've been taken in by Jobs' flim-flam.

The stats Jobs quoted are pure Campbell-grade spin

Apple acquisition points to Google Maps divorce

Charles King
Thumb Up

Ballistic Reindeer

This article was worth it just for the 'Track Santa with NORAD' link.

DefCon X(mas)!

Drive suppliers hit capacity increase difficulties

Charles King

Translation please

Clearly I'm technically-challenged, as I don't know what is meant by 'rebuild times' in the article:

>> one HDD manufacturer is telling Xyratex that 3.5-inch drives are dead, with 2.5-inch the future, due to rebuild times: "2TB drive rebuild times are heading towards a week."

Anyone care to explain? Pretty sure this isn't referring to rebuilding a RAID array (well, I hope not :/).

Sepp Blatter dubbed 'Bellend' by SA gov website

Charles King

Bellend not too popular in SA right now

The pressure that Bellend Blatter put on Nelson Mandela to attend the final did not go down well in some quarters. Mandela's currently mourning the death of his 13yr-old granddaughter and is becoming increasingly frail. Mandla Mandela, one of his grandsons, was quoted, "Their focus is having this world icon in the stadium, yet not really paying attention to our customs and traditions as a people and as a family."

Even during the games there was growing restlessness at the level to which Fifa-inspired laws were being imposed on the local populace, although the 'Fick Fufa' campaign ended up rather low-key.

I suspect this jab was a manifestation of the level of discontent felt towards Fifa and their high-handed ways.



Government plans 'NHS information revolution'

Charles King
Thumb Down

Yet more waste

For the last 2 decades the NHS has been blighted with this continual churn of 'reform'. Each new set of Whitehall flunkies feels the need to justify their existence by imposing another set of ridiculous measures on a long-suffering staff. All these do is suck up time and resources and force doctors and nurses to waste time on trivia. The upper echelons of both professions are sometimes almost as bad as they scurry to curry favour with the masters of the day.

Here's a reform for you - Just Leave It Alone And Let Them Do Their Jobs

And MinionZero's absolutely right - the privacy implications are obscene.

MS springs service pack preview of Windows 7

Charles King

Untrusted connection

Seems that Firefox doesn't like Microsoft issuing certificates to itself:

"Certificate not trusted, because it hasn't been verified by a recognised authority."

Two infosec blunders that betrayed the Russian spy ring

Charles King
Paris Hilton

Someone's career just went down the toilet

"From what I've picked up the reason the FBI moved now was because Ms. Chapman had been tipped off that her cover had been compromised and was leaving the country, they had to move or lose the chance to get her."

So in order to arrest a 'spy' who hadn't done any actual spying, they blow the entire op?


Their fake handler gambit was a klutzy move that makes me thing the FBI were just getting desperate. Cleaning up the cell with nothing better than money-laundering charges merely confirms that. Someone staked his career on this red-herring from Moscow and went all-in in a frantic attempt to save it. I bet the Kremlin has been resounding with laughter over the past week.

Paris, because sometimes being a sleeper agent just comes naturally.

Leica Pinmaster rangefinder

Charles King

Multiplying by 0.9144 would be too expensive

"A metric version is also available, so if you do decide to go shopping for a Pinmaster, be sure it measures in your preferred units."

So, let me get this straight, here we have a £500 gadget that's unable to convert yards to metres?

Can I pay for it in shillings?

Leica M9 rangefinder camera

Charles King
Thumb Down

Basic sampling theory...

No anti-alias filter = FAIL.

While you might be able to get away with it with crummy lenses (effectively using the lens as the AA filter) or massive oversampling (as in the 50-60Mp medium-format backs), in this format and with high quality optics all you're doing is smearing aliasing noise over the entire image. The most obvious example is how badly the M9 suffers from moire with high-frequency patterns, but the fact is that all the image is contaminated. Leica gets away with it because lots of people interpret the correlated noise patterns as detail.

Ireland debuts Fone-a-Freetard lottery

Charles King

Of course it'll work

The problem with file-sharing is simply that it has grown to such large proportions that it's become an accepted method of obtaining material. The solution is to change that perception and remove the huge numbers of casual P2P users that flocked to the medium over the last decade.

No solution is going to stamp out the hard-core pirates. There are multiple ways to avoid detection for those who are really determined to do so. The solution is to cut back the amount of piracy so that only the hard-core engage in it. And an effective way of doing this is to send a message and make sure it gets through.

Vague legal threats have a potent force. I remember over-hearing some medical students I was tutoring 5 years ago who were terrified of downloading music fearing they'd get a criminal record and be unemployable. These supposedly intelligent and well-educated (cue your med-student jokes here) members of the community were frightened-off by the faintest whiff of a rumour of legal proceedings. A personal letter will have far more weight, and the survey is right.

The fact is that piracy isn't 'theft', it's fare-dodging. Any train service needs to accept a certain amount of fare-dodging, as there's a level at which it costs more money to enforce the fare than is being lost to the dodgers. The problem with P2P is simply that too many customers have decided to dodge. The fact is that most of them will pay up if you simply go up to them and tell them to stop doing it.

'Lost' iPhone 4G brouhaha: Jobs gets on the job

Charles King

With friends like these...

Yes, the right thing would have been to give it back, but the article certainly conveys the impression that Martinson went out of her way to shop her flatmates as much as possible. Was she tired of them leaving dirty dishes or something?

I wish her luck finding a new place to live.

Fujifilm Finepix S200EXR bridge camera

Charles King

Stay short

Those telephoto shots are *nastily* soft, but it seems to perform reasonably well (for the price) at 3200. I expect the 30x zoom on Fuji's latest model will be even worse at the long end.

These cameras are reasonable for the casual shooter, but just a waste of money for people who want a decent long lens for nature photography.

US Navy plans self-building floating fortresses

Charles King

So is this the hot toy for next Christmas?

"Anything can happen in the next half hour!"

Da-daaah Da-dah! (doo-doo-dee doo-doo doo-doo)

HDI Dune BD Prime 3.0 Blu-ray media player

Charles King

Not even remotely worth it

@John Naismith:"Anyone who buys a media player is, IMHO, totally deranged.

It WILL have problems and they WON'T get fixed. Really, they won't and it doesn't matter what manufacturer you pick."

Amen to that

Anything north of £300 (or even less these days) just can't compete with an HTPC. Commodity PC hardware and software is a far better choice in every way.

Senators to NASA: Get your ass to Mars

Charles King

Robots are the future

Sure, NASA needs a program to put personnel into orbit - that's easy enough to do that the risks and added costs don't outweigh the advantages. But robots are the only thing that makes sense when you get to planetary travel for research purposes. Putting a man on Mars would be a colossal waste of money.

First Freeview HD TV goes on sale

Charles King

contrast ratio BS

@AC: you're the one who is misinformed

My LCD screen has a **calibrated** contrast ratio of around 880:1. It looks just fine.

Plasmas achieve ridiculous contrast ratios by having extremely low black levels, but those are meaningless as your eye adjusts for the bright areas of the screen and everything below a certain luminance just disappears into the murk.

Charles King

Panny pulling BS out of their pants

A contrast sensitivity of 5million:1 is ridiculous, even 100,000:1 is well beyond the sensitivity limits of the human eye for a single scene. Sure, the eye can adapt to dark over time and the limits of its range are well beyond that, but for scenes where you're looking the light bits and the dark bits at the same time, anything over 1000:1 is just a waste. These contrast levels are just marketing BS.

Apple to stick padlocks on books for iPad

Charles King
Jobs Horns

In the long run

Of course Apple's DRM will be different to Adobe's DRM, which is different to Amazon's....

At least when B&N decided to use a different scheme they worked with Adobe to roll it into their system and maintain compatibility. But Apple's more likely to make an iPhone running WM7 than co-operate with Adobe.

It's this plethora of incompatible DRM schemes that led to music stores selling mp3s - so maybe in the long-run this is a good thing.

Opera plays chicken with Apple iPhone police

Charles King

Much point-missing here

The iPhone is designed as a locked-down vertically-integrated consumer appliance. If Apple allowed a 3rd-party program to open a backdoor that entire paradigm would be broken. Use of an alternative html rendering engine is a slightly different issue, but rendering is such a core function of a modern OS that I can understand why Apple is very wary of allowing it even for static pages. Apple's slick and friendly UI is based on the principle of having everything under Apple's control, and I can't really blame them, because they developed that from experience.

If you don't want an appliance and want a phone with a full-fledged open OS, then don't buy a frikkin' iPhone FFS. All this whining about the restrictions in iPhone OS is pathetic when there are so many better options available for people who want a proper mobile computing device.

Defects in e-passports allow real-time tracking

Charles King

Kiddie-fiddlers in e-passport security alert

You didn't mention that the paper points out how the authentication system employs nonces. Obviously the entire system has been infiltrated by Pedos.

3D TV gets cold shower from Avatar man

Charles King

You're not getting it

The WHOLE POINT of 3D is that it drives people back into the cinemas, where they pay top-dollar for the latest stuff. Moreover it can't be camcorded and it can't be reproduced in the home - solving all the piracy issues.

Faced with declining DVD sales, Hollywood is going to be milking cinematic 3D for all its worth over the next 5 years. Sure, they'll jump on home 3D a few years down the line when the shine has worn off and they need a new format for their wares, but right now they're in no hurry at all.

Plastic Logic shows executive e-book reader

Charles King

Wow that's slow!

And this is their topline model!

The slowness is due a poky processor taking eons to layout the page (which is why the Sony PRS-600 is much faster than the 300). eInk isn't great for refreshes, but only takes around 500ms to reset and redraw the page. I can't see 'pro' 'executives' having fun as they wait a few seconds for each page to pop up.

Nice to see how the guy has his patter timed precisely to cover the sluggish performance.

Until I saw this video I was vaguely interested in the Que, but that performance is deadly.

Google to mobile industry: ‘F*ck you very much!’

Charles King
Dead Vulture

Oh look, it's Andrew Orlowski

"Google has its own private internet"

So does any company that owns the wires connecting different locations.

Oh, wait, it's Andrew Orlowski, what do you expect?

Any phone-maker who went Android in the belief that Google was giving them a freebie deserves to get shafted.

Spirit rover clocks up six years on Mars

Charles King

rocking the wheels

I suspect the dust trap it's in has very fine particles and effectively works like quicksand, so rocking the wheels will simply dig it in deeper.

As Gary F mentioned, there are lots of tried-and-tested solutions available though. All this talk of solar panels indicates that they're trying to reroute the power, which is always a good bet ;).

Top Gear tops iPlayer hit list

Charles King

Much better than it was

I once watched one of the episodes from the first season, back when it was a 'real' car show and had that sad fat bloke talking about bargains on the 2nd-hand market. God it was tedious, and improved tremendously when they dumped him and got in James May.

BTW, I thought El Reg was aimed at a techie audience. Why would anyone with a bit of know-how waste their time with bittorrent?

Catholics slam PETA nude adopt-a-mutt poster

Charles King

Donohue auditioning?

Was Bill Donohue auditioning for a slasher film?

His laugh at the end of the clip definitely looked like a play to get him cast in the next horror franchise.

"You kill lots of abused animals, ha ha hah. Ha ha ha ha ha!"

Googlebooks re-deal won't let orphans go

Charles King

@AC (Bill & Ben)

"Only the owner of the copyright can agree the price."

- And they will still do so under the GBS:

'Consumer Purchase Pricing: Rightsholders have two options under the Settlement for setting the sale price of their books sold for Consumer Purchase: they can set the price themselves in U.S. dollars (Specified Pricing) or they can allow Google to set the price based on a multi-factor formula that is designed to maximize revenues for the sale of the book (the "Settlement-Controlled Price").'

The GBS is remarkable for the massive amount of misleading crap coming from its opponents. The arguments against the GBS seem to fall into 3 groups: outright lies, pure FUD and straw-man nonsense about orphan works.

I used to think that authors might have a point, until I read a bit deeper and found out how baseless all their whining really is. More power to Google!

Hackers in keyless Windows 7 entry

Charles King

@Mark McC

"using similar methods to those used for Vista" - this is what gets me. The SLP implementation appears identical apart from a small change to the certs (2.0 vs 2.1), so that no effort at all was needed to work out how to spoof the activation. As soon as a master key leaked (which was inevitable simply because it's so easy to retrieve from any OEM machine), people were running the RTM.

MS *knew* that SLP was a gaping hole in their Vista protection, a white-box seller with the know-how to flash an MB BIOS can sell machines that appear completely legit (no loader or any OS modification), apart from the lack of a CoA that few consumers notice. With the arrival of Win7 nothing changed *at all*.

Microsoft admits Mac was Windows 7 muse

Charles King
Gates Halo


Luckily MS only nicked the good bits from OSX and stuck with the Start Menu+Taskbar instead of the Mac's ultra-clunky Dock.