* Posts by tojb

160 posts • joined 11 Oct 2010


The Battle of Britain couldn't have been won without UK's homegrown tech innovations


Re: The war is over, the empire is gone

Nazis are everywhere... worldwide more and more people are held in camps under appalling conditions for the sake of the political capital to be made by abusing them, or the fortunes to be made (in some cases) by appropriating their territory and assets. Uighurs, Mexicans, Sirians, Rohinga, Palestinians, I can't even be bothered to list them. Tyrranical and racist police states never went away and are in resurgence right now.

Unexpected victory in bagging area: Apple must pay shop workers for time they spend waiting to get frisked

Big Brother

Re: Good

It seems that most of the theft is done *from* employees, by Apple.

Brown pants moment for BlueJeans: Dozens of AV tools scream its vid chat code is malware

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2020 Bluejeans really is malware now

Having uninstalled this app using synaptic, and rebooted, I find *four* processes running under the name "BlueJeansHelper --hidden". Looks like malware to me.

Move over Ceres! There's a new, smaller dwarf planet in town called Hygiea


Re: Carbon-rich: role of VDW forces instead of gravity



Carbon-rich: role of VDW forces instead of gravity

As a C-type (soot and hydrocarbons) body, Hygiea could be stabilised by collective quantum dispersion forces acting at a level comparable to the tiny gravitational force associated with such a small thing.


On earth it is often a massive ball-ache when powders spontaneously clump and jam, the physics behind the whole thing is quite finely balanced and tricky.


Watch as 10 cops with guns and military camo storm suspected Capital One hacker's house…


Re: Smells.

I've had plenty of housemates who would think nothing to setting you up for ten years inside in exchange for leaving the lid off the marge.

Geiger counters are so last summer. Lasers can detect radioactive material too, y'know


Might have saved Litvinenko

As I remember, the Russian assassins who did for Litvinenko didn't make any attempt to transport their polonium in an airtight lead box, so it would have showed up on one of these scanners. It would also have showed up on a Geiger counter, as the isotope they used is more than just a bit radioactive, but I guess maybe they aren't installed in British airports right now anyway.

Boffins don't give a sh!t, slap Trump's face on a turd in science journal


Re: Yeah...

Trump is always suing or threatening to sue. You had indeed better be careful about mocking him, if you have anything to lose.

Grumbling about wobbly Windows 10? Microsoft can't hear you over the clanging cash register


Local patch testing, 3rd-party antivirus & malware, real work all done in vms

We have windows 10 on some machines at work. To support this we need a dedicated server to host updates pushed from microsoft, a near-full-time staff member to test the patches and make sure they don't break anything, plus third party software galore (individually downloaded, not automagically pulled from a repo) to make the machines useful and keep them secure.

90% of users for these machines then do their actual work in a linux VM.

Uncle Sam gives itself the right to shoot down any drone, anywhere, any time, any how


Drones are creepy and annoying

It needs to be underscored here that nothing ruins a picnic or a nice trip with your kid to the playground faster than a buzzing nuisance, with or without visible pilot. Without a visible pilot it becomes creepy as well as irritating.

Sopra Steria exec on warpath as its UK Government profit crashes ... by millions


the Carillon of paper shufflers

Otherwise known as the French answer to crapita.

A web where the user has complete control of their data? Sounds Solid, Tim Berners-Lee


Antidote to digital tyranny?

Will this protect us from digital tyranny-type scenarios, such as the Chinese approach of escalating from bad seat assignment on the train up to organ harvest, based on who you have been associating with and what they have been saying?

Mortarboard because the satellites are watching me

Google Chrome 69 gives worldwide web a stay of execution in URL box


Re: With M$ Windows dead as a dodo

But when I turn on windows 10 it spends 20 minutes displaying a message that it is "making my experience better"! Soon the experience of win10 users will surely be amazing!

‘Very fine people’ rename New York as ‘Jewtropolis’ on Snapchat, Zillow


Re: "Working to track down the culprit"

Fake Jews!

Lo and behold, Earth's special chemical cocktail for life seems to be pretty common


Bootstrapping actually seems to follow a maybe-necessary sequence

Biochemists (eg Kenji Ikehara https://ikehara-gadv.sono-sys.net/en/ and JT Wong https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1057181 ) have looked at the frozen-in evolutionary history of the genetic code together with the relative probability of (random synthesis/autocatalytic self-synthesis) for various amino acids and come up with a match - this shows that the arrival of the current ludicrously complex biological basics can be broken down into individually more probable steps, where a bunch of free-floating amino acids get pulled into a fragile self-replicating system which then develops them as as tools to make more of the same aa. Initial autocatalysis of poly amino-acids doesn't have stringent requirements on sequence or structure of the amino acid chain - a semirandom aa polymer can still have some catalytic activity to make more semi-random aa polymers.


Re: So, why don't we still have dinosaurs?

The code seems very redundant but the code table as it is gives certain very specific structural features which make (at least) recombination easier for certain specific sequences. In modern organisms this minor advantage is unimportant but in simpler beasts it may have been decisive in bootstrapping some of the complex but vital machinery such as ribosomes and recombinases. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033583517000130


Early earth wasn't like current earth

One thing this article doesn't mention is that earth at the origin of life was very different than today, it had very little free oxygen, and was probably abundant in cyanide and other chemicals we consider toxic.

The current abundance of oxygen, as well as the details of the carbon cycle and numerous other bio-geo equilibria are down to the excreta of various mostly-tiny organisms. This is not necessarily some benevolent gaia-system: when oxygen became abundant in the earth's atmosphere it was toxic to the vast majority of the extant biota, and broke the greenhouse effect, causing a planet-covering super glaciation which lasted for millennia. Planetary chemistry could have followed many different paths, and certainly started in a very different place to where it is today.


Re: So, why don't we still have dinosaurs?

Everything alive on Earth today shares the same basic molecular machinery, implying a common ancestor. But yes, any of the previous mass extinctions could have been a full stop for some completely different lineage. Interesting thought. Dirty keyboard icon in case a new, more effective, ribosome has just evolved on it thus marking humanity's doom.


Re: So, why don't we still have dinosaurs?

New proto-living chemical systems capable of starting off a de-novo evolutionary tree may well be continually starting up in the tide pools and subterranean vents of Earth's oceans, and being enthusiastically eaten by the the teeming swarm of microbes which already live there.

What can you do when the pup of programming becomes the black dog of burnout? Dude, leave


Mucho very interesting literature here

The Tavistock in London has made a special study of burnout, at the individual level but especially with reference to the collective. The institute was directed to this task beginning with WWI, when it was noticed that entire units would lose the will to continue fighting, even as comrades in other divisions endured still worse horrors with a cheery grin.

This was an interesting start for me:


Android users: Are you ready for the great unbundling?


Re: stimulate innovation and increase choice for consumers

Haha, yes, with sony yes you pay extra but its not for control of the device, that is for sure.

I see a satellite of a man ... Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, that's now 4 sats fit to go



Executions for blasphemy in the EU, last 50 yrs: 0

Executions for blasphemy in the commonwealth, last 50 yrs: Also none, but 62 murdered while awaiting trial.

Intel claims it’s halved laptop display power slurpage

Paris Hilton

no information here

There is no information in Intel's press release as to how this super-duper low power display should work, therefore no info in this reg article, or engaget etc etc. Annoying, as how is far more interesting that watt.

Microsoft Surface Book 2: Electric Boogaloo. Bigger, badder, better


glut of these on the second-hand market

Usually around Oct-Nov I see a lot of MS surfaces posted for sale on the campus noticeboards. Students get given one by an indulgent uncle and then find that when their prof says "type sudo apt-get install gcc" that they have nowhere to type it. Earlier versions were bootlocked, making it difficult to overwrite the OS.

Spare me the confected 'Innovation Theatre' that is hackfests and their ilk

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"Innovation is in our DNA"

Said the chief exec who kept his show on the road via one trivial and perversely registered patent for many many years.

So true Mr Burns.

Fewer than half GCSE computing students got a B or higher this year


Re: Isn't C supposed to be average?

Yes! 50% of students are below average. That is life.

Boffin supercharges FPGAs with timing signal tweak


middle author not culpable apparently

The IEEE's withdrawal note states that only the first and last authors (Imran Ali Qureshi and Ghulam Muhammad Shaikh) are culpable in the plagiarism. The middle one, Fahad Qureshi, is apparently not to blame.

Its entirely possible that he was added as a co-author to give the paper a greater appearance of legitimacy and never actually read it. (Against the rules: he probably signed something to say he had).

Its also possible that Fahad Qureshi was bought onto the Swedish paper after it had mostly been written, to reflect some genuinely useful contribution that was in the Pakistani paper, which was not enough to give it legs by itself but which was worth bundling with the Swedish work.

Whatever the sequence of events its hard to image that there is much love between the Swedish group and the Pakistani group right now.

Smiley face for the poor SOB who worked on this for years while others tried to snatch the credit.


Following the train of events

Its quite fun to try and reconstruct what happened here.

The apparently non-culpable author, Fahad Kureshi, did a thesis on FFT optimisation in the Swedish group supervised by the same prof (Gustavsson). In his thesis he lists 10+ publications with Gustavsson on FFT optimisation, including hardware-level tweaks. Therefore he is no amateur and has the full confidence and respect of the Swedish group.

In the thanks list, he acknowledges "My friends and colleagues in Pakistan for their help and care..." and then goes further to mention: My friends... ___Imran Qureshi___ ..... for their kind help in proof reading my thesis.

So the first author of the plagiarising paper (unless its another Imran Qureshi, there are a lot of Kureshis/Qureshis about)..... proofread the thesis of a guy from the group delivering the original work. He didn't do a good job, its still has quite a few spelling and grammar mistakes.

Lets make assumptions:

(1) Imran (Q/K)ureshi asks Fahad Kureshi is he can lift an unpublished chunk of the thesis that he's written, saying yes I'll credit you for the work you've done.

(2) Imran's paper still doesn't have enough meat so he just follows the threads that he already has from Fahad's work and ends up with a duplicate of what Ingmarrson ended up doing under Gustavsson's supervision.

(3) Imran goes to his supervisor, Dr Gulam Shaikh, who is busy with teaching, underpaid and very stressed from the difficulties of life in Karachi. Ingmarrson's paper isn't out, so they publish, claiming to have a legit collaboration with Gustavsson's group, although not actually Gustavsson, which is unthinkable to the hierarchically-minded aryans over in Linkoping.

(4) Gustavsson points out that priority comes from first submission to a journal, not first publication. Despite (maybe) only having been somewhat cheeky, the Pakistani group are obliged to back down. Their mistakes were (1) Treading on Gustavsson's toes by working in a field he was busy in. (2) Using information from his (former?) grad student to steal a lead.

Fahad Kureshi will get a telling off for leaking, but most likely be forgiven.

Imran Kureshi and his boss are going to come in for a lot of hate, I would be interested if either of them reads this post if they could tell me how well I reconstructed this...

How the Facebook money funnel is shaping British elections



It really winds me up when people say that some shadowy force (corporations, civil service, illuminati blah blah) runs the country so why bother voting. An MP in charge of a parliamentary select committee or sitting in the cabinet or at #10 can have a huge effect on outcomes for the country and the world. We didn't have to fight the Iraq war, we didn't have to bail out the banks in 2008. Those were political decisions that could have gone very differently, and did so in other countries with different politicians warming the benches.

Microsoft loves Linux so much, its OneDrive web app runs like a dog on Windows OS rivals


Re: Loved to Death

No need to assume anything AMBxx.... we can measure the lack of education, stats here:



Inferring unintelligence from a lack of education is of course dangerous with individuals, but holds very strongly when you look at statistics over larger samples.


Re: Loved to Death

*sigh* it was a factually correct comment though, education level is anticorrelated to trump support. Maybe it isn't sensitive to mention it, or to imply that lack of education is a bad thing.

What's that, Adobe? A Photoshop for faking voices?


software is actually rubbish

I managed to sit through the demo video (something must be wrong with me). Inflection and sentence rhythm very far from captured.

Also, American talky-people in the video are very very irritating

AMD will sell server CPUs at Happy Meal prices so you can supersize servers


Re: The Biggest Reason

Misconception, Zen doesn't lock anything out: microsoft is saying that they refusing to support it with their <10 windows versions. Probably they are just being dicks as usual and they'll change their mind if OEMs badly want to ship with win7 instead of 10.


Pair programming – you'll never guess what happens next!


Tried this by accident

I have a subordinate who buffed his CV a little and arrived with essentially zero knowledge aged 35 or so. I ended up sitting next to him at his desk typing in code for maybe 8 hours a week, and we developed a routine where he would correct spelling mistakes and remind me what file where things are defined in.

I'd credit him with supplying a 5% boost to my productivity, which is better than being of zero use (its not politically possible to sack him) as would otherwise be the case.

British trio win Nobel prize for physics


Sums up the history of UK science funding, and other things

Thouless moved to the US in the fifties to do his doctorate with the (German, somewhat Jewish) renowned nuclear physicist Hans Bethe.

The attractiveness of a venue for your research career is mostly determined by the environment: secure post, non-invasive bureaucracy, company of accomplished scientists you can hope to learn from.

Resources for research and a non-insulting salary are something but they are relatively unimportant. The UK is on a relatively good footing at the moment because the US has joined it in a race to the bottom in terms of a managerialistic ("work-like") culture.

Pass the 'Milk' to make code run four times faster, say MIT boffins


Sounds great call me when its in the OpenMP standard

This seems to address the big problem with OpenMP, which is that you can easily end up getting a net slowdown due to cores fighting over what is in the cache. If this is at all effective then the extra pragmas will/should get rolled into the standard very quickly.

Microsoft thinks time crystals may be viable after all


Its not complicated

Just a system which spontaneously settles into collective oscillation (like the quartz crystal in your digital watch). As far as I can see from the article the cool part is that any "clock drift" will self-correct, and that energy leakage will be approximately (not exactly) zero. So much woo-woo about time-loops and tardises sheesh

Nest offers its thermostat in three new pretty colors!


such hostility

The functionality is useful. Concerns about offclouding photos of your house are very legit, but most people really cannot be bothered running a home server and economies of scale are a thing.

Maybe the answer here is to design zero-maintainance home servers that can sit next to the boiler and take care of all this shite. Its not the path that nest seems to be taking, but already the average wi-fi router is also a NAS (its cheap enough to add a few gig of SS storage that many routers do so even in the expectation that 90% of customers won't even realise its there) and a few other things.

The first company to go down the route of designing low-cost low-fail high-security no-drm home servers for this stuff (home automation + NAS) should be a win. Cloud backup can and should be strictly optional, and strictly encrypted.

Trustmarque has been sold yet again – this time to Capita for £57m

Big Brother

monopoly, conflict of interest

Capita was recently delighted to announce that its near-monopoly on running the NHS has been still more strongly consolidated:


in particular, it has a contract to advise the "commissioning groups" which decide what IT services to buy, while one of trustmarque's businesses is selling managed windows boxen to the NHS.

I wonder, having collected its advisory fee, which business capita will advise the NHS to buy/rent its PCs from?

It's not us, it's you: Boffins ditch supercomputers in lust for new materials


spinglass the board game


No need to simulate spinglasses with confusing and expensive quantum computers: just give the rules of the board game to a small group of ten-year-old children. Schmeiss die beste Party!

The 'new' Microsoft? I still wouldn't touch them with a barge pole



on my mum's lappy I had to kill a bunch of processes by hand that weren't being stopped and restarted as they should have been by the updater. I also had to take it out into the cold night air to stop it going into emergency shutdown from overheating. That was a fun 6 hours work for no particular benefit that I or Mum noticed.

Cavium snubs MIPS, picks 64-bit ARM for next-gen network SoCs


Re: 8,192-bit keys

the password is:


Watch: SpaceX finally lands Falcon rocket on robo-barge in one piece


+99 for culture reference

The drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You". Awesome

'Panama papers' came from email server hack at Mossack Fonseca


Re: Given the scarcity of items on our cousins in the material released...

"fear of something" you mean "fear of being murdered as has happened before"

Microsoft did Nazi that coming: Teen girl chatbot turns into Hitler-loving sex troll in hours


Re: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

Theres a graph, looks legit... but they can't be that dumb right?

Why should you care about Google's AI winning a board game?


Re: Poker

Bridge is an active and interesting AI topic, because it relies on having a theory of what your partner is going to do, intuition about the temperament and intentions of others is a tough one to crack.

How to build a plane that never needs to land


Re: Much more useful when batteries improve

Pretty much all new houses where I live are built to the vaguely nordic "passivhaus" standard of energy use, i.e. near-zero for heating and water (zero may be impossible to achieve if north-facing in a valley bottom). Solar panels are a financially attractive add-on for those who can make the investment, thanks to generous subsidies (paid through other suckers' electricity bills, which are ludicrous).

The clever bit about the passivhaus stuff is controlled ventilation, with heat exchangers at the inflow and outflow. That and a very airtight building with very thick walls and windows pretty much solves your heating problem. Power diverted to the fans is minimal compared to what you save.

Imagination Tech's chief Hossein Yassaie quits, shares slide


value of chief execs much exaggerated

Hossein is a lovely bloke, but it is the corps of battle-hardened programmers and engineers (many at the Watford HQ have been there since they left Acorn back in the eighties) which makes the company valuable.

The last time Earth was this hot hippos lived in Britain (that’s 130,000 years ago)

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Milankovitch cycles, interesting

Thumbs up as I was prompted to read about gradual changes to Earth's orbital parameters (~20k years to notice anything), which I had previously been unaware of.

Caused by interactions of the earth-moon system with larger but distant bodies such as jupiter. Orbit is not circular or even reliable eliiptical but actually very bonkers and semi-chaotic spirograph.

All of which is at best tangential to the contemporary climate-change debate.

Five key findings from 15 years of the International Space Station


other cooler stuff than these five

This list is a bit buzzfeedy in that content has been sacrificed for comprehensibility. Other very interesting zero-gee science has been done, I could mention germination of plant seeds as one thing, or critical fluctuations around phase transitions as another: its tough to test a lot of physics theories in gravity, because the theories leave it out....



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