* Posts by TheFifth

202 publicly visible posts • joined 30 Jul 2010

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Speed limiters arrive for new cars in the European Union

TheFifth

Re: Good

My car has both cruise control and a speed limiter (optional). I can switch it to either CC or limiter, so the limiter doesn't operate in CC mode.

I have never used the limiter and only ever use cruise control. I don't drive like a maniac and have been driving for over twenty years without ever getting a ticket. I have never felt the need for a limiter.

However, after reading through these posts, I'm thinking I may have misjudged the usefulness of the limiter. When I first got the car and turned it on it defaulted to 70mph. I always use CC on the motorway set to 70mph as that gives me the option to creep above 70 if I need to pass one of those wonderful people who drives slowly, but accelerates as you try to pass them. I can also just press the pause button if I need to let the car gently slow down without braking. I couldn't understand why I would want the limiter to be on at 70mph as it seems less useful than CC. So I kinda dismissed it from that point onwards.

However, reading the above I can actually see that it could be useful on lower speed limit roads rather than motorways. I don't generally have an issue keeping to the speed limit, but I have to admit that from time to time, especially if traffic is stop and start, it is possible to creep above a low speed limit when you finally get going. Especially on several roads near me where the local council have decided to lower the speed limit of some large out of town roads, in the middle of nowhere, far from any houses to 30mph from 40 or 50. It's so easy to forget the change.

Thank you fellow commentaries, perhaps I'll give the limiter a try. My only reservation is I don't want it to make me complacent about keeping an eye on my speed.

Elon Musk to destroy the International Space Station – with NASA's approval, for a fee

TheFifth

Re: "make sure the job is done right first time"

It was a joke Dave...

TheFifth

Re: "make sure the job is done right first time"

He has a pretty good record for burning things up in the atmosphere. Recently anyway.

Venerable ICQ messaging service to end operations in June

TheFifth

Re: Trillian

I also used Trillian and was in their tester group for a while during one of their major rewrites. Used to hang out on their forum and in their IRC channel too. Fun times.

I see they're still around but have pivoted away from multi-network support to using their own protocol. They had just introduced their own service as an additional network on top of the other providers when I stopped using it. Looks like they're targeting business and healthcare now with HIPAA compliance being a major selling point. https://trillian.im

A thump with the pointy end of a screwdriver will fix this server! What could possibly go wrong?

TheFifth

Re: 486 DX/50

When I was at school, we had a network of BBC Bs (initially E-Net and then 'upgraded' to Econet). There was one machine (2C if I remember correctly!) that would never turn on correctly in the morning. On initial power up, rather than being greeted with the iconic dual beep of the BBC Micro, instead the first tone would go on forever. If whilst the first beep was sounding continuously you lifted the front of the machine by around two inches and let it drop, the second beep would then sound and the machine would work perfectly.

You could switch it on and off as many times as you wanted and it would run all day perfectly. However, the following morning when it had been off overnight it would need percussive maintenance again to get beyond the first startup beep. It worked like that for years right up until the day I left school. Now and then I do wonder if it was ever fixed or if it was simply retired when the BBCs were replaced with (probably) PCs.

Giving Windows total recall of everything a user does is a privacy minefield

TheFifth

Re: Timing

Timing seems to be squarely aimed at freelance workers and not big companies tracking all of their employees. It even allows you to overwrite chunks of time with 'Tasks', so no matter what you were doing, it will mark it down against whatever project you say. It also allows you to start and stop time trackers manually, so you can manually add time to projects whenever you want. The data is only on your machines unless you share a timesheet, so it's not a lot of good for nefariously spying on someone's work.

So whilst I agree that there will be software out there that is designed to track every second of a worker's time, which is oppressive, I don't think Timing is that software. I'm sure it will be possible to use MS Recall in an oppressive way, but the whole reason I brought up Timing was to point out that tracking, if done right, can be a very useful thing for freelance workers.

Not affiliated with them in any way, just a happy customer.

TheFifth

Re: Timing

Not in prison here! As I say, I work for myself so have complete control over when I do or don't work. I also give myself a generous amount of time off each year.

This is all about ensuring I charge for every minute of my time. It's not about being beholden to my clients. I was amazed how much more time I was invoicing for when I started using Timing. All those little 10 to 20 minute jobs that would be forgotten come monthly invoicing can really add up.

I'm sure my clients wish I didn't track my time like this and instead went back to my old way of "perhaps I'll remember to start a timer, perhaps I won't".

TheFifth

Re: All I want to know

I'd agree with this and the OP's comment. Everyone's use case is different, so blanket statements are just silly.

Personally for what I do, Linux fits my bill perfectly. I need to run local dev environments and web / database servers to get work done. Everything I need is available on Linux, although day to day I do use a Mac as I also need to develop iOS apps for clients.

Linux was also perfect for my parents. All they did was light browsing, email and solitaire, plus maybe the odd document to print. The day I replaced Windows with Linux on their laptop, the support calls stopped as it all 'just worked' for their use case.

However I have regularly experienced the reverse argument when I say I want the option of MacOS on the iPad (note I say option, not to force it on everyone). I receive a barrage of abuse about how the iPad is perfectly capable of being a full laptop replacement and I'm just not using it right. They don't seem to grasp that unless I can run a local web stack, it's doesn't work for me.

I love the iPad's form factor and portability, and it has more than enough power to do what I need it to do, but it's hamstrung by the OS. I ended up buying a Surface Go and put Linux on it (for which everything but the camera worked out of the box), just to minimise what I carry around when travelling. It's a slow device and has crappy battery life, but at times when portability is needed, it wins out.

So for me the iPadOS vs. MacOS debate is equally as frustrating as the Windows vs. Linux debate. Maybe it's just people that are frustrating? ;)

TheFifth

Timing

I use an app called Timing for Mac. It works by using the MacOS accessibility functions to read what the current active app and open document is. It also tracks the website you're currently viewing, however it doesn't track private browsing in all the browsers I've tried it with.

It allows you to setup projects where you define what folders the content for that project is in and what websites you use for it. You can also setup keywords that are relevant to that project. Then when tracking, any time you open a file in those folders, browse a website on the project's site list, or have a window title that uses the defined keywords, the time is automatically assigned to that project.

As a freelancer who often bounces between multiple clients each day, it's been immensely useful for me to ensure I charge fully for my time. I've used all sorts of manual time trackers and I always forget to start and stop timers. This just times everything and assigns it to the correct project without any interaction beyond initial setup. It's really helps to ensure I charge for all those little 'can you just' jobs that clients ask for that can often slip between the cracks come monthly invoicing.

Now... I completely understand what an absolute privacy nightmare this could be. Many of the same criticisms of MS Recall can also be levelled against Timing. However, I have it installed on a Mac Mini I use exclusively for work, I'm the only one who uses that computer, it respects private browsing and, probably most importantly, it doesn't take constant screenshots of everything. It only logs the active app, document path, window title and website. Also, that data never leaves my machine. Timing do offer a cloud syncing feature, but I do not use it. All this obviously could still be a problem, but for me the pros outweigh the cons.

I think that many of the issues MS has here could be alleviated if they weren't taking constant screenshots. Surely MS can get most of the required info from APIs like Timing does? I guess that means they wouldn't be able to assess things with 'AI', which just isn't cool at the moment. On a strictly work machine, I'm happy to live with the privacy compromises of Timing, but I don't think I'd ever be happy with software that was taking constant screenshots of what's going on on my computer. What about all those passwords I enter into config files? API keys etc.? Too risky for me.

Meta, Spotify break Apple's device fingerprinting rules – new claim

TheFifth

Re: Particular bad example

Personally, I don't remember the last time I rebooted my phone, tablet or laptop (it was probably for a system update). They are just put to sleep after use.

The point I think you're missing is that this isn't the only bit of info they use and it will be combined with perhaps hundreds of other small bits of data. It was likely picked as an example as it's something everyone will understand.

Individually these small items of data seem harmless, but when you combine them they produce a remarkably accurate fingerprint of a specific device. The thing with producing the fingerprint from so many items of data is that it doesn't matter if one changes. If the rest still match, that's likely still a unique combination (or near as damn it). Frankly, for marketing purposes, if you get a 75% plus match, it's enough. Knowing this person is a 95% match for someone who's just browsed 'widgets' on another website still makes it worth showing you a 'widget' advert. It doesn't need to be exact. Each time a bit of data changes, that's just amalgamated into the whole and the fingerprint is updated.

As an example, taking a look at https://amiunique.org/fingerprint, my web browser fingerprint is completely unique among the 2.5 million+ fingerprints they have taken. If someone takes that as a baseline, even if I reboot my device or change another of those items of data, they can still be 99.9999% sure that it's the same device based on everything else.

I once did some work for a company that had hired a marketing specialist to help with their web analytics. Seeing the kind of data he could glean from fingerprinting was frankly scary. Even to the point where, if a user had entered their personal details into one of the websites in their network, they could put a name and address to that random person browsing your website. This was all pre-GDPR, so it would be illegal to do so now, but that doesn't mean an unscrupulous developer can't still use the same tricks. So a company with Google's reach definitely can and I wouldn't be surprised if internally they are linking these data sets.

TheFifth

Re: You can't go after the 800 pound gorillas off the bat

You really should. It definitely took them some time, but Apple Maps is now better than Google Maps

It was only about 8 months ago I last tried it and it was useless at finding things in Devon / Cornwall (which is where I need it 99% of the time).

As I said in my original comment, I do like the uncluttered look and the way it guides you, but if it can't get me to the right address, it's useless to me.

I guess it heavily depends on where you live, but as with everything in the UK, if you're outside of London or a few other large cities, things get patchy (especially in the wilds of Devon and Cornwall).

TheFifth

Re: You can't go after the 800 pound gorillas off the bat

I completely agree. When I bought a new car it came with CarPlay (which I love). As it was the default, I thought I'd try out Apple Maps.

I think it looks nice as you drive around and is clear and simple to read. The first time I tried to use it to actually get somewhere was to a farm in Devon that had been converted to a wedding venue. It took me to completely the wrong farm and several miles out of my way. Switched to Google Maps and it directed me straight to where I needed to go.

Haven't tried it since.

Apple unveils M4 chip with neural engine capable of 38 TOPS, and some other kit

TheFifth

I also have an M2 Mac Mini that I use for development. I'd love to be able to use an iPad for work whilst away from home. I take the iPad with me wherever I go anyway for media consumption, so it's a pain also having to lug around a laptop just in case I need to do any client support. I actually bought a Surface Go (which is running Linux) simply to lower the amount of crap I cart around when going abroad. I leave the iPad and laptop at home and take the Surface with me. It's just about passable as a media consumption device (using Gnome for a better touch UI) and it's also a real computer if and when I need it. Battery life sucks though.

I watched the announcement yesterday with interest, but little hope of there being anything worth buying. If they lifted some of the iPadOS restrictions so I could run MySQL and Apache locally, I'd seriously consider one of the Pros. As it is, I think I'll just pick up the base model to replace my seven year old iPad (again, base model). It's getting very tired now and stutters and freezes every now and then, so it's due replacing. Thanks for lowering the price Apple, glad I held off on buying! The idea of a macOS app is interesting. The hardware is more than capable.

As it stands, Apple have lost a big chunk of cash they could have had from me.

Got an old Raspberry Pi spare? Try RISC OS. It is, literally, something else

TheFifth

Re: I loved working with RISC OS

I think that there are more than one, and I think they are paying to keep the OS alive and maintained on hundreds to thousands of machines in production use.

This doesn’t surprise me at all. I bet there are many machines still chugging away in important roles. I know the BBC used to use Optima for offline editing back in the day, but I’m pretty sure they went all in with Avid in the late 90s. It’s a shame there’s no-one keeping Optima alive out there, although it wouldn’t have clue what to do with widescreen, no matter HD footage.

I must admit, I do miss the stability of modern memory-managed fully-pre-emptive OSes, but it's amazing that it works so well.

One thing that always amazed me with Optima running on RISC OS was how stable it was. It hardly ever crashed and if it did, when you restarted it just picked up again where you left off.

I remember when we moved over to Premiere and Avid on Windows 2000 (removing the need to online after initial editing). The number of days I lost to Premiere when it crashed and hosed yet another project I dread to think. Avid was better thankfully, but Windows and the drivers for the pro-level capture cards were an ever present issue. I remember the Pinnacle DC2000 being a particular problem (anything Pinnacle in fact!).

In the day when computerised audio editing ("SADIE" being the name which springs to mind) meant the latest '486 with as much memory as you could afford

I also used to use SADiE back in the 90s. I was always amazed at the price of it when there were free or very cheap alternatives out there that could do most of what it did (well, what we needed it to do anyway).

TheFifth

I loved working with RISC OS

When I worked as a TV editor back in the late 90s, I used RISC OS everyday. For offline editing I worked on an Eidos (yes, from Tomb Raider fame) Optima Video Editing system. It was a RISC OS based editing system (think Premiere, Avid etc.) that was super simple and super fast to use. We had a RISC PC with a stack of external SCSI drives sat on top and a Jazz drive for backup. Picture quality was crap, but being an offline system, it could spit out an EDL file onto floppy that could be used in an online system. From that one file you could conform from the original tapes. I've used just about every editing system out there and I'm particularly fond of Avid, but Optima still holds a place in my heart. It was without a doubt the fastest system for editing I've ever used (in workflow terms). This is exactly what I used to use https://stardot.org.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8337. Ah the good old days!

I did try RISC OS on RPi a few years ago and all my RISC OS knowledge came flooding back (even the weird drag to save stuff). I never went too far with it as I didn't have access to a network socket in my office, so without Wifi it was just a standalone oddity that was too much of a pain to do anything useful with. It's amazing how much we rely on networking to do anything these days. I think it's time to break out the Pi 400 again and load up the new release. Exciting!

Side note: I've been looking online for info about the Optima NLE and apart from a few mentions here and there, the info seems to not exist. Not even a grainy image of the UI, let alone a video. I did see a RISC PC with an Optima card come up for sale on eBay a few years back, but it was a ridiculous amount of money. Way out of my price range for something with no real used beyond a nostalgia journey.

Silicon Valley roundabout has drivers in a spin

TheFifth

Re: Turbo Roundabouts

I agree that although the lane markers will punish those who don't pay attention, they are a great idea for enforcing lane discipline. Watching that video reveals how simple a roundabout should be if people would only navigate them properly.

TheFifth

Re: Attraction

I remember driving in Swindon back in the 90s and panicking as I saw the signpost for the Magic Roundabout up ahead with no way to turn off.

After driving through it I couldn't work out what all the fuss was about. Follow the same rules as any roundabout and it works perfectly. I found it really simple to navigate. I'm sure the reputation comes from people over thinking rather than any inherent trickiness.

Zilog to end standalone sales of the legendary Z80 CPU

TheFifth

Re: MSX

I was flicking through a CPC 464 manual the other day and had lots of "oh, yeah!" moments as I remembered all the programming I used to do using Locomotive Basic. Definitely one of the best basics available on any 8-bit micro. I know everyone raves about BBC Basic, and it is really great, but I don't think the CPC's basic was far behind (and possibly ahead in some areas). The timers were something that really stood out to me when rereading. I had forgotten all about them.

I remember I wrote a poker game in basic on my 464. It had an 'AI' (not really) computer opponent and everything. OK, graphically it was simple, but I remember 13 year old me being very pleased with it. I really wish I had held on to those tapes and disks, however they were sent to the tip when my parent's moved house whilst I was at uni. Didn't think to ask for them to be saved. I was more worried that my Mum had given all of my Star Wars toys (a Millennium Falcon, an At At and loads of figures) to my cousin!

X's Grok AI is great – if you want to know how to hot wire a car, make drugs, or worse

TheFifth

Re: Sueball incoming in 3... 2...

Came here to say exactly the same thing.

"You broke the terms of use!"

Twitter's lawsuit against anti-hate-speech crusaders gets SLAPPed out of court

TheFifth

Re: Costs

Businesses who advertised there won't have cared much about the motives behind the research. They would purely have looked at the facts.

Were their ads being shown next to hate speech? Yes.

That's all they care about. They were told it wouldn't happen, it did happen, so bye bye Twitter. Their only consideration would be brand safety and is the platform a good place to advertise that won't tarnish their image. Twitter has no one else to blame.

So throw all the lazy buzz words you like at the motivations of those doing the research, but the fact is they just revealed what was already happening. Twitter was and likely still is not a safe place to advertise if you value your brand image.

Kremlin accuses America of plotting cyberattack on Russian voting systems

TheFifth

why bother, why not just shup up and get on with life

Honesty, from my experience in Russia, this is what most people do. They just want a quiet life so they keep their head down and don't rock the boat. Even at a local level corruption is rampant, so you don't want to get noticed even there, no matter on a national level.

From what my Wife says, certainly in small towns and rural villages, many don't bother voting. As you say, why bother? Although it may be different in cities. When she was at uni in a city, they actually took everyone out of lectures, put them on a bus and marched them into the voting offices. Don't know if that is common elsewhere. Certainly when Putin has a rally, it's part of someone's work day to go. So their work will take them to the rally. Who wouldn't cheer if you're given a paid day off?

This year will be interesting though. There's a plan for people to all turn up at the polling stations at midday in memory or Navalny. The hope is to get thousands of people outside each one at exactly the same time, all across the country. It's a way of having a protest without having a protest. "I'm just here to vote, honest!".

TheFifth

There's a saying in Russia that essentially boils down to "even if they're corrupt, you're better off voting for the current guy as he's already stolen everything he wants. A new guy will make things worse by stealing more stuff" (that's how my Wife summarises it anyway). I guess it's the Russian equivalent of 'better the devil you know'.

My Wife spoke to her mother (who is in Russia) on the phone yesterday. She said the above reason is why most people she knows will vote for Putin. So I guess he will still get a lot of votes anyway.

IP address X-posure now a feature on Musk's social media thing

TheFifth

Re: Xitter indeed

I had exactly the same experience when I logged in for the first time in over a year a couple of weeks back. I had the pleasure of a video of a drug lord being murdered, a dad beating the crap out of his daughter for having an OnlyFans account and a fight on the Tube. I follow tech news, science news, retro tech and some comedians. Don't know how anyone can cope with Twitter anymore.

Palantir boss says outfit's software the only reason the 'goose step' has not returned to Europe

TheFifth

Re: They could have spent the money on legal migration instead and would have not died.

Annoyingly, we missed the 2 year route by less than a year if I remember rightly.

The newer five and ten year routes are far more complex though. There were a tonne of new requirement added, like income thresholds, 'Life in the UK' exam, healthcare supplements and several English tests, among a myriad of other little bureaucratic tweaks. When we started our route, there was a lot of fuss about how much more complex it had become. Even phoning the immigration helpline was no help at all. No one wanted to take any responsibility for giving advice and their stock answer was "you need to provide whatever it asks for in the question". As I am freelance, I needed to provide accounts. They insisted that you have accounts drawn up by a qualified accountant with a professional accreditation, but didn't say which accreditations they accepted. There were horror stories online of applications being refused for the accountant having the wrong accreditation. So I called to ask which were accepted and they just said "whatever is asked for in the question". Useless.

The English tests were a joke. My wife is a qualified English teacher and she still had to take them. The questions were of the level "can you point to five on this list of numbers?". The English exam cost hundred of pounds and was valid for two years. The Visas were valid for 2.5 years, so it was all designed to ensure you needed a new one for every visa (because when you're living in the UK, you're definitely going to forget how to speak English). You also had to show progress with your English, so each time you had to take a more advanced exam, which was obviously more expensive each time. It was ridiculous considering my wife has advanced qualifications in English, but they'd only accept the Micky Mouse ones that they wrote especially for the visa route. It's a scam.

The worst bit was that if you failed a visa application, even if you just forgot to provide a document, they could send her home. If you appealed and they accepted that appeal, they would move you onto the 10 year route (basically a punishment). If they didn't accept the appeal, tough. Thankfully we got through OK and always provided an excess of documents to them.

TheFifth

Re: They could have spent the money on legal migration instead and would have not died.

This 'they should have spent the money on legal immigration' line always makes me laugh. It shows how utterly ignorant most people are of how difficult and expensive the UK (and most other western countries') immigration system really is.

When I got married to a non-UK native, all of my family were shocked that she wasn't just allowed to live here. They were gobsmacked at the five year process that cost over £14k, with the constant threat of her being sent home if we didn't dot every i and cross every t to perfection during those five years. That was 10 years ago now. Looking at the way the prices have gone up, it must be well over £25k these days. The FLR and IFR visas are almost double what we paid at around £3k (you'll need four+ of these dependant on the immigration route), and that's excluding additional fees like the Healthcare Surcharge charge (£1,035 per year). Note these fees are per person, not for a family.

And if you are not the spouse of a UK citizen and have no work place to sponsor you, then you're gonna need tens of thousands of pounds in the bank as collateral and the entire process is going to take 5 to 10 years and cost a further tens of thousands of pounds. And note, you can't just use the money in the bank to pay for the visas as you must have said collateral available each time you renew your visa (every 2.5 years). As soon as the cash in the bank drops below the required level, your visa will be denied.

So yeah, that family that have sold absolutely everything they've ever owned to scrape together £1k to pay people traffickers should definitely have used the money to pay for legal immigration. It wouldn't even cover the first meeting with an immigration specialist.

Musk 'texts' Nadella about Windows 11's demands for a Microsoft account

TheFifth

Re: If he thinks that's bad he should try MacOS

OS updates aren't in the App Store and haven't been for a long while now. You don't need to have an account to get security patches or major version updates, they are shown in the system settings. A link on the web for a MacOS download may open the App Store, but it then just redirects to the settings app and doesn't ask for a login. That's my experience with the last few versions anyway, it may be different with older MacOS versions. There are also KB articles with each major MacOS release that have links to download the installer (or there used to be anyway, not checked that in a while).

Any app store where you purchase online software will ask you to create an account in order to allow you to redownload the software at a later date. Apple is no different here from what I can tell. Granted, an indie dev may allow you to redownload using a license code without logging into their site, but all app stores that provide access to software from different companies always require an account (the ones I've used anyway).

You can complain about that if you like and it might well be a valid complaint, but it's odd to make out it's an Apple specific thing. Seems pretty much industry standard at this point. If you don't want to use an Apple ID, download the software direct from the vendor. A lot of (maybe most) MacOS software is also available outside of the App Store.

Also, unless I try to use iCloud or any service that requires an account (not sure how a cloud syncing service would work without an account), I don't get nagged to sign in. Not like the constantly reappearing OneDrive icon and nag screen that pop up almost every time I update Windows*. Obviously if you open Apple Music and go to the 'Listen Now' section, it's going to ask you to sign in as you are trying to access the Apple Music streaming service. When is it nagging you to login?

I have a few VMs of older versions of MacOS that I use to test software. I run all of these without accounts and I can't remember ever been asked to sign in using an Apple ID beyond my refusal during initial setup.

* I'll admit I still only have Windows 10, maybe this has changed in 11?

Work for you? Again? After you lied about the job and stole my stuff? No thanks

TheFifth

The company I used to work for was actually pretty good (they were the only company where I was told to go home when I was ill and not to work through it), however, when work dried up redundancies inevitably came. Being a senior member of staff I was expensive and they could simply no longer afford to pay me (even though I had taken a pay cut to help out).

When I left, the job I was currently working on was given to me to complete as a freelancer. The client was one I had found and nurtured, so they gave the project to me as a parting gift. I was the third person into the company when I joined some 12 years earlier, so we'd been through a lot together. We parted on good terms and everyone all round felt sad about it.

The project was only a simple ASP based online data store. I completed it quickly as I knew the client was desperate for it. I sent the code in and duly invoiced for the amount we'd agreed before I left. I received back what can only be described as a bollocking, with them claiming they 'never told me to do the job yet!'. I can only assume they couldn't afford to pay me. After a long wait, they did however pay up.

Around six months later I received what can only be described as another bollocking because 'you haven't completed the agreed project and the client is demanding to know where it is! We were relying on you!'.

I pointed them to the email I'd sent six months earlier. I did not hear back.

It's a shame as it soured my memories of what had been a really good job and a (mostly) fun 12 years of my life.

X accused of taking money from terrorists by selling checkmarks to US enemies

TheFifth

Re: In the real world.

I used to enjoy scrolling through Twitter over coffee in the morning. I had a lovely curated timeline of retro tech, science and computing which was fun to peruse and often linked me to interesting, more in-depth articles. I never experienced the hateful, cesspit side of Twitter that many complained of. It seemed to me that if you were careful who you followed, with judicial use of the block / not interested functionality, you could create a pretty interesting timeline.

Within weeks of Musk taking over, my feed was infested with nut ball US right-wing politicians (which as a UK resident I had no interest in), anti-gay hate-mongering, anti-semitism, and of course Musk himself (who I definitely did not follow). It was just impossible to keep on top of it and get back to what I previously had, so I gave up and moved to Mastodon.

I hadn't logged into Twitter in over a year until earlier this week. There's a company I needed to get hold of (that's another long and frustrating story) and Twitter seemed the only way to do so. I logged in to send them a message (which I couldn't do in the end as only verified users could DM them), but whilst I was there I glanced at the timeline. The first post was a video of a drug lord being tied to an anchor and thrown overboard a ship by a rival gang, the second was CCTV footage of a father dragging his daughter around by her hair and kicking the s**t out of her for having an OnlyFans account, and the third was a very violent fight on the Tube. All these were posted by 'verified' accounts. I didn't look any further.

How in the hell could these posts possible be recommended to me given what I follow? Twitter truly is just a 4Chan clone now. XChan maybe?

Apple Vision Pro units returned as folks just can't see themselves using it

TheFifth

"The primary functions of this MK I AVP is to communicate a road map and to show Apple's commitment, whilst giving 3rd party devs something to play with."

I'd agree with this. I'm not convinced this was ever designed to be a mass market product. It's more of a tech demo at this point and shows the direction Apple are going. It's going to be many years before this is anything useful.

Until the headset is more like wearing a pair of glasses, I can't see it taking off. Perhaps if we get to the point where we have very high res, truly transparent screens, then it might be possible to make something for the mass market. Having cameras that project the outside world onto screens in front of your eyes is never going to be small enough to be practical and headaches / eye strain is always going to be an issue until you're just viewing the outside world directly though the screen.

It sure is interesting tech though, but it's years away from being practical in my opinion.

Apple makes it official: No Home Screen web apps in European Union

TheFifth

Thanks Apple...

Definitely seems like malicious compliance to me.

Could they not use Safari for PWAs and allow other browsers for normal surfing? Granted, this may not be seen by all as full compliance, but at least PWAs would still be working. I'm sure the courts would OK this if Apple committed to allowing PWA support in third party browsers at a later date.

When MS were forced to introduce browser selection screens into Windows, there was no mention of forcing the replacement of all the in-app, embedded browsers that used IE. Not the same thing I know, but at least there is some precedent for forcing third party browser support whilst keeping the first party browser for some system / app functions. Surely, in the short term, an agreement could be reached where third party browsers are allowed, but Safari deals with PWAs?

I know this won't happen though, as Apple doesn't want it to. They are making a point and the consumer is the one suffering.

I guess here in the UK we don't have to worry. Could this be that elusive Brexit benefit?

Apple has botched 3D for decades. So good luck with the Vision Pro, Tim

TheFifth

I don't get it.

With all Apple product releases in the last 20 years I could see the market. I may not have been the target, but I got it and could see that it would sell. The Vision Pro not so much.

I can see it will have niche uses in certain industries, like building walk throughs, or showing what a room will look like with changes to decor or fittings. Maybe simulation and training. Games too, obviously. But beyond that I really can't see the mass appeal. I notice that many of the big business apps out there are creating Vision Pro versions, but I'd bet that anyone in an office will use them for five minutes for the novelty value, but once that wears off they'll realise that it's just easier to use a mouse and keyboard. The thought of having a heavy weight strapped to my head for long periods really doesn't appeal to me.

From what I can see it'll be relegated to niche industry use and a gaming toy for rich kids. Maybe once the tech improves and it becomes more like wearing a pair of glasses it'll take hold. Long way to go though.

Maybe I'm missing something?

The New ROM Antics – building the ZX Spectrum 128

TheFifth

Re: Love it!

"Proper home computer, not that cheap Sinclair shit!"

Do we have the same parents?!? That's pretty much exactly what my Dad said shortly before we got an Amstrad CPC for Xmas.

How Sinclair's QL computer outshined Apple's Macintosh against all odds

TheFifth

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNh-iw7gsuI

The week in weird: Check out the strangest CES tech of 2024

TheFifth

Re: Wehead, a bizarre head-shaped version of Alexa

A pre-production unit was reviewed on Short Circuit (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDS5Re6RW0s).

I assume it'll become more bespoke, but the unit they had was just four Samsung Galaxy phones mushed together with an HP bluetooth speaker.

Mandiant's brute-forced X account exposes perils of skimping on 2FA

TheFifth

Re: Brute forced?

This is the first thing I thought about. I spend a lot of time developing web apps for businesses and one of the first things I implement is rate limiting against brute force attacks. It seems mad that Twitter doesn't have some form of automated system to detect them.

I understand that with a service the size of Twitter, it must be constantly receiving incorrect login attempts and password 'guesses' for high profile accounts, but surely a brute force attack that successfully cracked a password must have been battering the server for it to be possible in any sort of reasonable time?

COVID-19 infection surge detected in wastewater, signals potential new wave

TheFifth

Re: "the only figure that really matters is hospitalisations"

It is like flu *now*. It is true that the Alpha variant was nasty, and killed people. Subsequent strains followed the usual pattern for these viruses and became less dangerous.

It was the Delta variant that led to the most severe disease, so it's not always a downward trend towards less dangerous. Initially Covid became more virulent and more contagious as it mutated. It was Delta that led to scenes of scores of people dying in the streets outside of hospitals in India.

Although it's true that the trend is generally downwards, it's not impossible that we could be unlucky and a mutation that increases virulence could occur again. Hence why monitoring is likely still a good idea.

And unfortunately I know two people who died of Covid and also someone who has life changing issues after being in hospital with Covid for several weeks. He's not what I would call old either, only in his early 50s.

China's SpaceX wannabe recycles a rocket after just 38 days

TheFifth

Re: McDonnell Douglas DC-X

It was also designed to be cheap and use off the shelf parts. Unfortunately, as with many things NASA do, a change in the political wind can change priorities and budgets. Imagine where they could have been now had the funding not be axed.

Also, many of the DC-X engineers went on to work for SpaceX and Blue Origin, so they are benefiting from this knowledge.

Meta killing off Instagram, Messenger cross-platform chatting

TheFifth

Yay, interoperability!

I really hope the EU pushes all these services to interoperate. I currently have so many messengers installed on my machine because one client insists on using WhatsApp, another on Telegram, another LinkedIn, another Signal, another wants Slack, and on and on it goes.

I've just discovered Beeper, which is great for pulling all of these services into a single app. It's not true interoperability, but at least I don't have to hunt through five different apps every time a message comes in. Also, it behaves more like a proper native app than most of the other combination messengers I've seen, which normally are just Electron apps that display the messenger's web interface in a tab. Beeper is a good stop gap until I can use a single service that can talk to all of the others.

It's great until that one client who insists on only calling via WhatsApp and never by phone...

Duke Uni libraries decamp from 37Signals' Basecamp over CTO's blogs

TheFifth

Does Duke University Libraries have a contract with Nike to supply all their librarians with shoes? If they did, then maybe you'd have a point.

Ukraine cyber spies claim Putin's planes are in peril as sanctions bite

TheFifth

Re: "the civil aviation sector of terrorist Russia"

This is hilarious.

First you say you have a "a strong dislike of Ukraine's far-right politics and policies" and then you say "Who needs votes?" and prattle on about a volunteer army that was created by a right wing politician (Yarosh) when he withdrew from his party (Right Sector).

That's the same Yarosh who received 127,772 votes (0.7% of the total) in the 2014 presidential elections. The same Yarosh who after the 2014 revolution demanded to be appointed Vice Prime Minister for the law enforcement matters, but was rejected. He did manage to win a parliamentary seat in a tiny single member district in 2014 but, as with all right wing leaning candidates, was trounced in 2019. He definitely sounds like he's got his hands firmly on the reins of policy and power in Ukraine. This whole 'the revolution was driven by right wing Nazis' is again just a Putin talking point.

Then you list a load of stuff that happened in 2014 when they were desperately trying to pull together a unity government to calm the whole country down. So yes, people from all parties across the spectrum were given posts, far right and far left. I don't particularly like it, but in times of trouble, you have to try to create unity. It's not ideal, but needs must.

But do you know what? Come 2019, when the people had their say, they roundly rejected the far right. Right Sector, which itself is a coalition of several parties won only 2.15% of the vote and has no representation in parliament at all.

So maybe, just maybe (but not really) you could have made a point about the far right being in parliament in 2014. But they represented a tiny minority in a unity government lead by a reformer. From 2019 however that's just pure Putin propaganda. European countries like Poland, Hungary and even France (with Rassemblement National winning 89 seats in 2022) have much larger far right representation in government than Ukraine has now or has ever had, even in 2014. You don't see Russia invading France or Hungary to remove Nazis from power.

The far right have had no power over Ukrainian politics since 2019 and have had little before that. The fact that you had to change your tune from talking about "Ukraine's far-right politics" to "Ukrainian Volunteer Army" when challenged says that you are very aware of that.

Anyway, this time I really am out of this nonsense. Unlike you, I don't get paid to do this.

TheFifth

Re: "the civil aviation sector of terrorist Russia"

What a joke.

The fact that you say you dislike Ukraine's far right politics, yet defend Russia tells me everything I need to know. Either you are completely ignorant of Russia and its history or you are a troll.

I love Russia and I love the Russian people. I have spent a lot of time there. However, I also have a realistic view of the country and, after marrying into a Russian family, have made it my business to learn as much as I can about the culture and history of the region. I don't however love the Russian government and do not support them in any way.

As for Ukraine being far right, I think you need to brush up on your history. Historically the far right have failed to win any more than 5% of the vote in Ukraine since 1991. In 2019, the coalition of Svoboda, National Corps, the Governmental Initiative of Yarosh, and the Right Sector won only 2.15% of the vote. Only once, in 2012 has a far right party gained enough votes to be in parliament. This was true even during 2014, when nationalist sentiment was at its peak. Historically, since 1991, Ukraine has had lower far right influence than just about all Eastern European countries and massively so when compared to Russia. You're just parroting demonstrably nonsense Putin talking points.

Ironically, the regions with the most far right problems are the separatist ones. A report in 2016 by the IFRI (https://www.ifri.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/rnv95_uk_likhachev_far-right_radicals_final.pdf) said that "Russia’s use of right-wing radicals on the side of the 'separatists' in Donetsk and Lugansk provinces was more important militarily and politically than the involvement of Ukrainian far-right activists in the anti-terrorist operation." and that in mainstream politics, far right parties have been pushed to the margins. They add "Nevertheless, the DNR and LNR regimes have themselves assumed a conservative, right-wing complexion and different types of xenophobia play a considerable role in their official ideology and rhetoric." So you may want to look further East than Kyiv for a far-right party that has influence in Ukraine.

And yet again I'll point out a 2015 poll of residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions showing that 75% wanted the entire Donbas region to remain fully Ukrainian. Also, when asked if Russian-speaking citizens are under pressure or threat, 82% said 'no'. Only 7% 'somewhat' supported Russia helping rebels in the east and 71% did not. This lines up with what my Wife's Ukrainian relatives (who live in the East) have told me. Note that these results are after Russia had already supported rebels in the east and many ethnic Ukrainians had fled the area. So the ethnic makeup of these areas had shifted markedly towards ethnic Russians, and still the results of this poll don't support your assertions. Yes the poll showed that the East supported closer trade ties with Russia, whereas the West supported trade ties with the EU, but no region supported conceding the East to Russia. Ironically, one thing they all agreed on was Ukraine NOT joining NATO.

Now I'm annoyed for allowing myself to get dragged into this again. I promised I'd waste no more time on it. It's just when I read utter nonsense that bears no relation to established historical fact, or to the Russia my Wife and I know (she knows better than me!), it gets me riled up.

Right, I'm gonna bow out again (or try to anyway). Keep fighting the propaganda fight comrade, one day someone might believe you.

TheFifth

Re: "the civil aviation sector of terrorist Russia"

"I'm not sure there's much point attempting to reason with you"

Honestly I wouldn't bother. I'm married to a Russian woman who lived in Ukraine until she was nine. She has relations who are Ukrainian who live in Eastern Ukraine who I have spoken with many times before and after 2014 and they've told me exactly what life was and is like there (hint: it's not what Putin is saying it is). I've also spent a lot of time in Russia over the last 15 years and have first hand experience of how the culture works.

I've tried time and time again to correct the objectively false things he spouts on here. I've tired explaining that what he claims is not what the people who live there are telling me and not backed up with evidence from any research or polling. He'll just ignore any points you make that he can't deny or that don't fit his agenda and will pick at any tiny element of your argument that he has some handy propaganda he can counter with.

I've given up and just don't engage anymore. I wouldn't waste your time or energy.

FAA stays grounded in reality as SpaceX preps for takeoff

TheFifth

Re: Stage Two

Common Sense Skeptic has a good video breaking down the launch here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ka5id7ZQKL4.

He also uses footage from Astronomy Live that shows the top portion of Star Ship tumbling towards Florida after it exploded. That could be an issue for SpaceX as it's a major chunk of spacecraft that is falling uncontrolled towards a population centre.

X's legal eagles swoop on Media Matters over antisemitic content row

TheFifth

Re: Throw away the key!

Please be satire. A few years ago sarcasm was easy to spot, but these days...

TheFifth

Re: Interesting wording

From the filing:

"Media Matters then exclusively followed a small subset of users consisting entirely of accounts in one of two categories: those known to produce extreme, fringe content, and accounts owned by X’s big name advertisers. The end result was a feed precision-designed by Media Matters for a single purpose: to produce side-by-side ad/content placements that it could screenshot in an effort to alienate advertisers."

So basically they follow a bunch of hate and they follow a bunch of tech companies. Ergo, they get tech company adverts on their hate filled feed.

Twitter seems to be trying to claim that this is something that would never happen naturally (or rarely would), but this is just the way their algorithm works. Unless they are saying that no one who is into tech is also into hateful content, then it's hard for them to deny that these ad placements will sometimes happen. People with this combination of interests definitely exist (I've seen a few commentards who likely have a similar Twitter feed!), so it must happen.

Media Matters may have distilled the experience down a bit, as no one is likely to only follow hate speech and tech companies with no other content. So a real feed may have some cat memes mixed into the nazi propaganda (a little light relief I guess). But the fact is that they still placed ads against that content. That's enough for the advertisers to exercise their right to draw a line under their contracts. Twitter can claim they have robust measures in place to stop it all they like, but if all it takes to bypass them is to follow some hate and some tech, then those measures simply are not working.

Firefox slow to load YouTube? Just another front in Google's war on ad blockers

TheFifth

This is what I do. I block ads, but pay more out a month in Patreon than a YouTube premium subscription would cost me. I feel a lot better about where my cash is going though.

TheFifth

Just a note, the cut off for monetisation is a minimum of 1,000 followers and 4,000 hours of public watch time within a 12-month period or 10 million public YouTube Shorts views within a 90-day period.

YouTube will still put ads on those channels that fall below this threshold though, but not a penny will go to the creator.

So if the creators you watch are truly small channels, they won't be seeing a penny from the adverts you are watching.

Robot mistakes man for box of peppers, kills him

TheFifth

My Dad was a paramedic and retained firefighter, and my Mum was a nurse. This type of humour was dinner table conversation for me whilst growing up.

It's one of the only ways people who deal with the worst possible sights have to maintain their mental health.

I believe growing up like this has given me a far healthier attitude towards death and how harsh life can be. I have friends who are terrified by death and go white at just the mention of it. I believe openly talking about it is better, especially with a little humour.

YouTube cares less for your privacy than its revenues

TheFifth

"some of the smaller creators I follow have maybe 200 followers"

Just a note, the cut off for monetisation is a minimum of 1,000 followers and 4,000 hours of public watch time within a 12-month period or 10 million public YouTube Shorts views within a 90-day period.

YouTube will still put ads on those channels that fall below this threshold though, but not a penny will go to the creator.

So if the channel has only 200 subs, all you're doing is giving YouTube more income.

TheFifth

This is what gets me, it's the same 30 second un-skippable advert every few minutes. Without an ad-blocker, you'd go insane.

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