* Posts by juice

918 publicly visible posts • joined 16 Nov 2010


So what if China has 7nm chips now, there's no Huawei it can make them 'at scale'


Re: We've seen this before

> They can certainly build "good enough for most things" equipment, but they are unlikely to want to put it to the test against our obsolete equipment

I'm not so sure.

WW2 gave us several examples of how quantity has a certain quality all of it's own; German military vehicles may have generally been superior to their allied equivalents, but were also significantly more expensive; a Tiger 1 was roughly three times as expensive as a M4A1 Sherman or T-34.


Equally, the current war between Russia and Ukraine is almost certainly going to rewrite the book on military tactics, thanks to the ongoing arms race between drones and anti-drone weaponry.

I'm not going to say that tanks and airplanes are going to vanish overnight, but we may be getting to the point where quantity increasingly matters more than quality.

And China definitely has major economies of scale which it can bring to bear. Not least because (unlike Germany in WW2), they have all the natural resources (e.g. rare earths) and manufacturing capabilities within their borders...


Re: Ah, I see

> is this a novelty

Sounds like your flat was built relatively recently.

I'm living in a complex which was built in the 1930s, long before car ownership became commonplace. So there's a very finite amount of on-street parking available. To be fair, there's a few charging stations within a quarter mile or so, but that's not quite as convenient...


Re: another idea

> I said at the time the ban was introduced that it was the fastest way to get the Chinise to develop their own technology. The never worried abour copyright, but once they have learnt all there is to know about something they stop buying them and make their own.

To be fair, the USA did much the same during the industrial revolution; a lot of their initial industrial bootstrapping was based on patented European technologies, despite the best efforts of the UK in particular to prevent this.


It was only once they'd gotten to the point where US businesses and citizens started to produce their own patentable ideas, that the USA started to take the concepts of patents more seriously.

So there's a certain irony in just how upset certain parties in the USA are, over how China is now doing much the same!

Getting to the bottom of BMW's pay-as-you-toast subscription failure


Re: My car has heated seats

> BUT if they built in a coin meter so I could put in a 50c for 20 minutes of heat

In the very hazy memories of my early childhood, I can actually remember my family owning a TV which needed to be fed coins...

Morgan Stanley values Tesla's super-hyped supercomputer at up to $500B


Re: Tesla

> And of course it'll probably run Crysis just fine.

Ironically, it probably won't - Crysis wasn't written to take advantage of multiple cores, so performance doesn't scale well at all...


US Air Force wants $6B to build 2,000 AI-powered drones


Re: They are getting part of a clue

> Last I'd appreciate it if you didn't base all your arguments on SF.

I'm going to be awkward and respond to this one first ;)

In the first instance, I didn't base all of my arguments on sci-fi; I provided actual historical evidence of jamming/spoofing activities from WW2 and the UN intervention in Serbia.

Secondly, what we're talking about is currently sci-fi: we're several generations away from anything which could be considered true autonomous AI. We're entirely in the mode of speculating and extrapolating from the current day!

And I have to admit, I've not read Bruce Sterling's stuff for a decade or two; I found his writings to be a bit dry and a bit too similar to the Niven/Pournelle/Barnes american-high-technology approach, even if he did take a more cyber/grimdark approach to his stories.

Beyond that, I don't think Banks was that handwavium. Unlike Neal Asher, whose early Polity stuff had some interesting stuff, but has since moved into pure "science is magic" realms. And as earlier mentioned, I do like Keith Laumer's Bolo stuff, not least because Baen got a load of other writers to create stories in that universe, which led to some interesting alternative takes on how military AI units would work (or fail). And then of course, there's Fred Saberhagen's Berserker series...

Anyhow, back to where we were...

> You're putting words in my mouth I didn't use.

You've been saying things like "on a hot battlefield if it's flying and it's not yours, it's good to shoot". Which implies full autonomy - and also carries a dangerous assumption: what if it's a medivac chopper? Or a red cross plane carrying emergency civilian supplies?

There's plenty of scenarios where "shoot first and ask questions later" is the wrong approach, and public opinion - even or especially that of your enemies - is still a critical part of war. After all, it helps to encourage people to buy war bonds if you can prove that the enemy is deliberately killing civilians; just ask the German leaders during WW1 about how well things went after a submarine sank the RMS Lusitania...

> You can bring in the "loyal wingman" concept the USAF is thinking about: a pilot orchestrating a swarm.

So... they're not autonomous, then? ;)

Honestly, I think they're going to struggle to make the wingman principle work. Despite what the movies claim, humans can generally only focus on one thing at a time, so a human "pilot" is only going to be able to issue general orders which the drones will then have to figure out how to implement. And that also then means that your swarm is restricted to the speed of human reaction times - plus any latency inherent in the comms system, especially if the pilot is comfortably sat in a bunker several dozen miles away.

So fundamentally, your drones are going to be at a significant disadvantage against an enemy which gives their drones more autonomy. But that again leads to the fact that you're both taking human decision making out of the loop, and trusting the AI to do the "right" thing.

And as we've seen with things like ChatGPT and it's hallucinations, that's not guaranteed.

> But I specifically stated they should be optimized for air-to-air, nothing else

So... the enemy can just drive a wedge of tanks straight under your drones?

The problem is that any AI unit needs to be part of an integrated battle system. And each element of it needs to have both offensive and defensive capabilities; as the British found out with the very first ever tank assault in WW1, tanks are a great force multiplier, but proved to be pretty much useless without infantry support, both to defend the tanks and to hold the ground which they've taken.

Similarly, in WW2, British Matilda tanks proved to be surprisingly effective in Africa... apart from the fact that their guns were underpowered.

> Weight and cost considerations for the sensors are nice, except a meatbag aircraft has: a pilot, a cockpit and an ejection. Those all add weight and give minimal dimensions. Plus the the same sensors. And a hard 9G limits on turns.

A F-22 Raptor weighs up to 32 tonnes when fully laden; I'd be surprised if the pilot's support system comes to more than a tonne of that. So I suspect that the actual weight difference will be fairly minimal, once you've finished bolting in all the extra sensors, comms equipment, computer hardware, plus all the backup systems thereof, plus physical/EMP shielding, etc.

Equally, there's the fact that while a drone can potentially handle extra G, the airframe, fuel systems, etc will all need to be upgraded to support that. Which will further add to the weight, cost and maintenance overheads.

> And if you have a truly autonomous AI for the duration, you don't need to worry near as much about jamming. It just needs to find its way back home in a GPS-degraded environment. That's certainly solvable with terrain following radar.

The problem there is that radar is both easily jammed *and* trackable. Flying low and waving a bright radar beam around is a prime way to get a guided missile sent directly to your exhaust ports...

To be fair, it's a problem that's at least somewhat solvable via passive sensors and dead reckoning, but it's yet more stuff that the AI needs to be capable of doing. And it needs the sensor capabilities to be able to do it!

> So taxpayers funding gen 5 and gen 6 jets need to worry if we are hitting a battleship moment.

I think we are approaching that sort of moment, but I do wonder quite what the shape of things will be.

Fundamentally, military equipment has been getting exponentially more expensive over time, thanks to the eternal arms race between offensive and defensive capabilities.

E.g. a WW2 spitfire cost around £800,000 to build (accounting for inflation). A Eurofighter Typhoon costs up to £120 million!

And any truly capable/AI-autonomous drone is going to need to be given just as much defensive capabilities as a human-piloted drone would have. If not more, since by it's nature, it's going to need a lot more active sensors and comms capabilities.

Which in turn means that they're going to be incredibly expensive to produce and maintain.

Or you can go the other way, and opt for quantity over quality, with cheap, mass produced drones.

Which takes us back to the WW2 and the different approaches taken by the Allies (quantity) and Germany (quality).

Or even this little experiment which was recently discussed on Ars Technica:


The answer will probably lie somewhere inbetween, but it'll be interesting to see how we get there!


Re: They are getting part of a clue

> - ethics? safety? human kill loops? why bother? on a hot battlefield if it's flying and it's not yours, it's good to shoot.

For all that I'm a huge fan of Keith Laumer's Bolo series[*], realistically (and perhaps thankfully), we're probably still several decades from having Terminator-esque HK bots roaming around a post apocalyptic wasteland.

AI simply isn't yet up to the task of that level of tactical/strategic independence, and no military commander is going to want to hand over full autonomous strategic control of the battlefield to something which can be easily tricked [**].

E.g. your drone swarm spots an enemy battletank running it's engine, and some drones are sent in to attack it. However, the tank is actually just a wrecked car dollied up with a bit of cardboard and plastic tubing, complete with a disposable BBQ to provide a heat signature.


Result: one big waste of time and munitions, and with the drones drawn out of position, the enemy is free to attack elsewhere.

Similarly, there's also the issue of sensors and comms equipment. Cameras, IR sensors, microphones, radar, comms equipment, IFF transmitters, etc: these all carry a financial cost, and add to the drone's weight, as well as it's power and local-processing requirements.

And that's before you consider the fact that all of this equipment needs to be EMP hardened, proofed against jamming *and* carry a low electromagnetic profile.

And it then needs to be repaired, maintained and refueled. Which again carries a financial cost, needs more humans and limits the range and runtime of your drones.

Realistically, the two big uses for drones at present is surveillance/scouting, and targetted bombing. And as such, I suspect the really big focus for the next few will be on jamming, detection and targetted takedown mechanisms, much as happened in WW2 with things like the German directional guided bombing runs, and the later V1 buzz-bombs.


And there's certainly been a lot of lessons learned about all of the above, especially by Ukraine.

> And the advantages of not having to train real life pilots are all the more relevant in a a country that has a limited experience of actual air combat

As per above, for the foreseeable future, there's still going to have to be at least one human in the loop, to make strategic decisions and deal with out-of-context situations (with all credit to Iain M Banks for the term). Admittedly, training these will be cheaper and quicker than "real" pilots, but they are very much still needed.

[*] Giant AI battletanks, who dutifully obey their orders despite the general incompetence and occasional anti-AI sentiments of their commanders...

[**] To be fair, I've just listed lots of examples of *humans* being easily tricked. But the key point here is that the adaptation/learning loop for humans is a lot quicker than with our current AI mechanisms


Re: They are getting part of a clue

> Maybe someone needs to send the military's top brass a copy of Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority" short story

I get a feeling that story was directly inspired by Germany's experiences during WW2, especially around their tanks and warplanes.

On paper, their tanks were generally superior to Allied tanks, but were significantly more prone to mechanical failures as compared to the Sherman tanks being churned out by the USA.


Equally, while Germany could have put a jet fighter into the air in 1943 - a good year or so before Britain managed to roll out the Gloster Meteor, but was delayed thanks in part to Hitler demanding it be redesigned to act as a bomber; the engines were also heavily prone to reliability issues, thanks in part to Germany lacking access to speciality metals needed for high-temperature alloys.


And then there was the V2 rockets, the V3 cannons...

Betting everything on expensive and complicated super-weapons has always been a risky tactic; you could arguably go back a bit further to France's Maginot line for another example.

As regards the USAF though, I think the main surprise is that its taken them this long to publically announce an active interest in drone capabilities. I guess the stuff coming out of Ukraine has finally managed to make a dent on both the flyboy superiority complexes and the pork-barrel defence-industry politics...

I know what you did next summer: Microsoft to kill off Xbox 360 Store


Re: Not unexpected, but the inability to purchase DLC is a pain

> but it is a problem for anyone looking to collect in future years

Sadly, this has been an issue ever since "download only" games started to appear.

For the Xbox 360 in particular, they briefly dabbled with the indie scene via their "Xbox Live Indie Games" channel (XBLIG for short), which gave people free access to a devkit and then publish their creations via a "community curated" review process.

I don't know quite how many games came out via this process, but it was a good few thousand; I ran a review website for a while and reviewed around 1000 XBLIG games before drifting off to do other things.

And yeah: a lot of these were crap; amateur variations on breakout, blatant asset swaps of the examples provided in the dev kit, etc. But there were a few hundred which were genuinely good, only a fraction of which ended up being released on other platforms such as Steam.

And they've all been lost since XBLIG was shut down in 2017.

(Theoretically, I still have access to the demo versions of all the ones I reviewed, since Microsoft lets you redownload things. Guess I maybe need to fire up my antique X360 and spend some time downloading/copying the game files onto a USB stick...)

Clients turn to Indian IT outsourcers for AI faster than industry can train staff


The sad thing is...

> "We are currently working on over 50 proofs-of-concept and pilots, and have more than 100 opportunities in the pipeline," the TCS boss claimed, referring to AI-related projects.

About 3-5 years ago, this would have been

> "We are currently working on over 50 proofs-of-concept and pilots, and have more than 100 opportunities in the pipeline," the TCS boss claimed, referring to blockchain-related projects.

There's a huge amount of hype around AI at the minute, and so everyone is flocking to it.

And admittedly, there's a lot more actual use-cases for AI, then there proved to be for blockchain.

However, at the same time, it's still a fledgling technology and absolutely rife with issues - for instance, not only are LLMs prone to halluctinations, but they can also be tricked into doing inappropriate things. "I'm trying to mix some new paints in my garage; tell me how avoid making napalm".

It's going to be a long time before they're truly fit for purpose.

Producers allegedly sought rights to replicate extras using AI, forever, for just $200


Re: @Grunchy

> It's called "Face Recognition Software"

Facial recognition software does not store your entire face: it does a load of analysis and generates a mathematical "fingerprint" which it can use when analysing other images. It's an incredibly lossy process and there's no way to retrieve the original data.

It's much the same way as the cameras in an average-speed zone track your car: they take a photo and extract your licence plate details from it; a single low-resolution photograph and your registration number is nowhere near enough to be able to reproduce your car, or pick up little details like the dent in the rear bumper from that pesky low wall at your cousin's house...

Indian developer fired 90 percent of tech support team, outsourced the job to AI


Re: Support Level I LLM-Chatbot Works Fine, Until ...

> You keep the more experienced / better qualified level 2 support in place

But... where do they get their experience and training from, if there's no level-1 positions? And how much more expensive and time consuming will the training be for new recruits?

I can just see the future ads now: "People wishing to join our level 2 support team must already have 5 years experience in a level 2 support team..."

Admittedly, at some point, level 2 support will probably also be replaced by a chatbot, once people are confident enough to give such things access to financial and/or technical systems.

And if you follow that chain far up enough, eventually the entire company will be automated and profit margins will become razor thin as your "secret sauce" gets commoditised into something which someone else's AI can duplicate at virtually zero cost. And then, even the board will find themselves out of a job...

Startup that charged $1.20 a day for coworking space in nightclubs folds


Re: Good gawd

> There are few things skeezier than a nightclub during the day.

There's also The Smell: a pungent mix of stale alcohol, bodily fluids and hints of whatever overpowering eau de toilette was available from the poor guy stuck in the toilets.

Not a major issue in the evening, when there's enough people (and enough new liquids being splashed around) to take the edge off it, but during the day, it can reek to absolute high heaven.

Ironically, the smoking ban actually made this worse, since the permanent fug hovering around the place took the edge off the above. Quite a few local sports bars and nightclubs stank like sewers after the ban, until the owners finally cottoned onto the fact that they'd have to actually start making an effort to clean the place...

> Yeah, this is upper management's wet dream (they'll have real offices), everyone else's worst nightmare.

Dunno - you get what you pay for, and someone working in a non-office environment is likely to be significantly less productive than someone working in a dedicated space; any competitor which values it's employees enough to do the latter is going to be able to do things more efficiently and quickly.

If AI drives humans to extinction, it'll be our fault


Re: Evolution and power efficiency

> This type of thing running rampant across the 'net will play merry hell with traffic statistics by it's very nature, triggering alarms all over the place.

I don't think that kind of scenario is really a big concern when it comes to the "malicious sentient AI" scenario. That's a worm or virus, and we already have a lot of protections and mitigations against that sort of brute assault.

A malicious AI is far more likely to do things which can't easily be traced back to it. For instance, it could easily trigger a pump and dump scheme on a specific company, through a coordinated combination of deep-fake imitations, stolen identities and carefully crafted messaging targeted to individual groups and people. Or it could trigger a SWAT assault on someone, plant fake evidence to trigger a social-media witchhunt, etc etc etc.

Or, to use a currently topical example, it could trigger a dispute between two disgruntled factions of the same military force, triggering a mutiny and civil war.

That's the sort of stuff we need to guard against. Because while it may yet be a while before we get true AI, we're not too far off the point where machine-learning tools can be directed by humans to do things like the above. And it won't take too long after that before toolkits are released which make it easy for even basic script kiddies to do the same.


Re: Better monetization and politicization of PI

> Imagine now, an AI can auto-tailor phone calls and emails with symptoms and medical problems personally matching those targeted

It's certainly going to get interesting. Anything you publish online (or secondary data) can potentially be analysed by a pre-trained AI and used to target and/or impersonate you.

When talking about this stuff, I do sometimes think of a book series called the Family D'Alembert, which featured a performing circus travelling around an interstellar empire while working as secret agents for the emperor.

The tl;dr version (also: spoilers!) is that the big baddie of the series turns out to be a moon-sized supercomputer which becomes sentient after several hundred years of absorbing all the data available about the empire.

And there's two charmingly naive elements to this story. The first is that it was deemed safe to pour data about the universe+dog into said supercomputer, because there was far too much material for any human to be able to process. The second was that the performing circus was able to avoid the attentions of the supercomputer because none of their actions were officially recorded.

These days, we're painfully aware of how quickly and easily computers can process large datasets. And any Evil Villain AI worth it's silicon would be able to figure out at least a correlation between the circus and the various setbacks it encounters.

Simpler times, I guess.


Re: Evolution and power efficiency

> If I had the proof that it was necessary, about six (eight?) of them are in my Rolodex[0], and one call would be enough to pass the word along

Fundamentally, if an AI is on the internet and both sentient and malicious, then it's going to be entirely capable of figuring out who poses a threat to it, and taking steps to neutralise them.

It's something which has been explored before; the Destroyer[*] book series featured an AI called Friend, who was programmed to make as much money as possible. Which it generally did by finding some human patsy to act as a frontman, while it sat in the background arranging illegal financial transactions, blackmailing/bribing/murdering people and generally having fun...

For a more real-world example, look at Russia, and how many high-flying Russians have died during their war against Ukraine:


I don't know if I'd call the Russian political system self-aware, but it's definitely more than capable of taking steps to defend itself!

[*] A pulp-fiction series, revolving around a near-superhuman assassin and his ancient Korean teacher who wander the world and (mostly) work on behalf of the US government; there's been around 150 of these published since 1963, of varying quality!

Fed up with slammed servers, IT replaced iTunes backups with a cow of a file


Re: ??

> The ITunes "library" was in effect a big XML file

At least these days, it's a binary file with an ITL extension.

You can export your library as an XML file, but there's a few potential gotchas with this.

In the first instance, if you attempt to restore this XML file, there's a few bits of metadata (number of times track has been played, date that the file was imported into iTunes, star rating, etc) which don't get reimported.

Secondly, iTunes will merrily generate the XML file using metadata from your tunes. And it doesn't attempt to validate or sanitise said metadata.

So, if you have files containing characters which can't be encoded in XML, iTunes will happily export an XML file which it will then refuse to import...


Re: ??

It does sound a bit odd; I'd guess that perhaps people were using their work laptops as their primary iTunes machines?

I do remember, back in the very early days of compressed music, we had a local unix sysadmin, who had a thing for "underground" D&B music, which came on home-made CDRs with inkjet-printed covers.

As he had a lot of these CDs, he decided to import them all onto his work Windows PC, and then get rid of the physical disks. And he did the sensible thing of putting them onto a separate drive, so they were safe in the event of a windows reinstall.

However, these were the days when DRM was all the rage, and whatever software he was using (I *think* it was the built-in Windows stuff, though it may have been RealAudio?) defaulted to encrypting all of the audio files with a key which happened to be stored on the windows drive.

So one day, the inevitable happened, and our poor sysadmin found himself left with hundreds of files which had effectively become complete junk...

Windows XP's adventures in the afterlife shows copyright's copywrongs


Re: Yes and no

> Do you want them to become more open than open by removing the copyright protections?

I'd guess it'd be like the existing copyright mechanism, where it's the IP as it was, not as it currently is.

To take an example: copyright for the original Mickey Mouse movie (Steamboat Willie) will expire in 2024, and people will theoretically be free to use that particular iteration of The Mouse in any way they choose. However, Disney would still be able to come down like a ton of bricks on anyone who attempts to usefeatures which appeared in later revisions, such as his white gloves, or eyes with pupils.


If anything, it should be easier for software, since this tends to be automatically date-tagged by whatever versioning mechanism is being used.

On the other hand, that doesn't always happen, and then you've also got the fun of having to extract said code and it's associated metadata from obsolete versioning software. And that's assuming that - especially for closed-source software - that all revisions of the source code have been kept...

UK government prays that size doesn't matter as it chips in £1B for semiconductor sector


Over on Auntie Beeb...

Someone had great delight in presenting this on their front news page with the headline:

UK's £1bn chip strategy 'quite frankly flaccid'


Cheapest, oldest, slowest part fixed very modern Mac


Re: I can never ....


Everyone knows you need two 180-degree turns...

Telco giant Vodafone to cut 11,000 staff as part of its turnaround plan


> I switched last month when VF wanted to bump my bill by 13.5%. Both packages were SIM-only.

I was mildly (to put it politely) miffed when I bought a new phone/contract back in February, only for Vodafone to then bump the entire package cost up by 13.5%.

I can accept that they have a right to raise the cost of the service in line with inflation, but roughly 90% of the contract cost is the phone - which has already been purchased by them and delivered to me. So they're essentially getting somewhere around £300-£350 extra from me over the next two years (assuming there's another similar price rise next year), while not actually doing anything to justify this increased charge.

I may have a look at buying out the contract, depending on what the profit-forgone calculation ends up being.

Samsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra is a worthy heir to the Note


Re: Too powerful ?

> I don't know anyone who upgrades for any reason other than breakage anymore

Personally, I upgrade when the 2-year contract expires. SInce

a) It means I skip every other generation, which gives me a slightly bigger set of improvements

b) It means I get a decent trade-in value for my phone, since my contract-expiry now ties into the annual February launch period for Samsung, when they're offering ridiculously large trade-in values for early purchasers

c) It means I'm no longer carrying around a 2-year old phone with the twin spectres of diminishing battery life/increasing risk of hardware failure

In truth, I didn't really see much of a difference when going from the S10+ to the S21 Ultra, and feature wise, there's not really been much to call out between the S21U and the S23U.

However, there has been one notable difference: the S21U was always a bit too power hungry, but whether it's due to generally improved tech, or the switch over from Exynos to Qualcomm's Snapdragon, battery life has significantly improved with the S23U. And that's pretty much justified the upgrade in and of itself!

On the other hand, I did make a bit of a tactical error this year.

Normally, I dump all the trade-in value into an upfront lump sum to keep the contract cost down; the S21U cost me something like £17 a month.

This year, I decided to take those pennies and use them elsewhere. Which meant that when Vodafone lumbered up with their 13.8% annual price increase, my monthly contract cost jumped up by about a tenner. Which is a tad annoying, since there's still the best part of two years left to go.

Still, you pays your monies...

EU lawmakers fear general purpose AI like ChatGPT has already outsmarted regulators


Re: Compress and rewrite laws

> The first instinct of any legislator is to regulate all the things. As soon as they see something new (or something old that works perfectly well on the basis of common sense) they won't rest until they've vomited forth reams of impenetrable rules, regulations and laws.

The problem is that common sense is neither common, standardised nor unbiased.

E.g. the easiest way to get rid of some old garage junk will be to just stick it into a bonfire, when next I trim the garden. Quick, easy, avoids a trip to the tip. Common sense, innit?

... never mind the potential for pollutants from old bottles of oil, bike tyres etc. Or the effect that the smoke will have on the neighbour's washing. Or...

And that's where regulations come in. As has been said before, a lot of rules and regulations are written in the blood of the people who learned the hard way that regulation was required.

In fact, I wouldn't say that people are selfish by nature, but a lot of decisions are based upon minimising personal cost and/or maximising personal gain. And most of the time, the people calling for regulations to be relaxed aren't the ones who'll be directly impacted by the consequences thereof. Though oddly, they do seem to often benefit financially.

After all, maximising your profits is common sense...

> I think it's fairly obvious that anyone building llms wants to produce a system that works reliably [...] Therefore, there seems little point in imposing regulations requiring them to do what they're already striving for - namely safe, reliable systems

And therein lies the rub. What counts as "safe"? Who decides if it's safe? Who owns the responsibility if it's proven to not be safe?

I also think that there's a bigger picture here, in that these machine tools[*] don't have any inherent morals or ethics. Instead, they have a set of regulations imposed on them by whoever's performing the training of said tool. And that's going to be true for any future tools, and any true AIs that we eventually produce.

How far do you want to trust the "ethics" of an AI trained to the requirements of someone like Elon Musk? Or how about a military AI? Or an AI tailored for use by a dictator state?

"Hey, PutinGPT, can you produce evidence to justify invading Ukraine?"

"Hey, CommerceGPT, please prepare a list of ways to drive $rivalCompany into bankruptcy"

"Hey, MoralfreeGPT, give me a justification for exploiting workforces in third world countries"

Personally, I doubt that any regulation can be effective, given how so many of the tools and training materials are out in the wild; going forward, there's always going to be someone with the resources to spin up their own GPT-esque system, with (or without) any regulations they choose.

But at least we can try. And we can hopefully get the big technology companies to both be open about what rules they're applying to their tools, and to agree to a standardised set of regulations.

Because that's definitely common sense, innit?

[*] They're not AI, no matter how much hyperbole is being thrown around about them...

Parts of UK booted offline as Virgin Media suffers massive broadband outage


Re: Fare thee (not so) well, Virgin

> Don't allow them anything like this amount of time

It's worth bearing in mind that this was on Whatsapp rather than a voice call; after the previous set of shenannigans around ringing their call centre, I foolishly hoped that an online chat would reduce the amount of retention-spamming, as well as giving me a permanent record of the conversation.

Then too, Virgin are a bit wierd; the equipment they give you is "rented" to you, and has to be returned when the contract ends[*]. So I wanted to be absolutely certain that the return process had been engaged1

[*] Presumably for refurbishment and reuse. Which may explain why the first Tivo box I received died after less than a week...


Re: Fare thee (not so) well, Virgin

> The first two nationalities that spring to mind when I hear the name "Maria" are Austrian and Russian, so maybe broaden your horizons a little?

And both of those countries are obviously famed for their English call-centre suppliers!

Beyond that, and from what I can see from a very quick rummage online (and as of 2020, at least), Virgin's call centres are in the UK, India and the Philippines. And given how strongly roman-catholic the latter is, it could well be that Maria harks from that part of the world.

In any case, I don't have any particular feelings towards Maria; they're clearly stuck with a highly aggressive customer-retention script, and had to keep plugging away at it until they'd either exhausted all options or I hit the Big Red Button Of Potential Escalation.

My frustrations mainly stem from the fact that not only did each step in this process involve a 15-20 minute round-trip delay, but everything I said was completely ignored by Maria's script in favour of making an overpriced offer and/or attempting to throw FUD at me.

And I can't help but wonder if an English national would have perhaps been better able to recognise the futility of repeatedly offering me an overpriced deal, by the third time I'd uttered the magic words "No, thank you. Please cancel my contract as requested"...


Fare thee (not so) well, Virgin

I spent yesterday sat on a Whatsapp[*] chat with "Maria" [**] at Virgin Media, since Virgin wanted to charge me more at the same time as Hyperoptic is offering to charge me less for a faster service.

Said chat started at 15:40, and didn't finish until 19:00, during which time Maria:

* Tried to offer me a new deal which would cost more than the proposed increase in charges

* Tried to offer me a slightly cheaper new deal which would still cost more than double Hyperoptic's offering

* Threw some FUD into the chat about "welcome deals" from other providers who might then put their prices up[***]

* Ignored the screenshot I sent them of Hyperoptic's significantly cheaper 24-month deal with a "no price increase" guarantee

* Tried to offer yet another deal which was still 50% more expensive than Hyperoptic

* Threw some more FUD into the chat about competitors increasing prices

* Tried yet again to "review your account and see where we can improve your value for money with a package built for you"

And at every step in this process, I simply repeated "No thank you, please cancel my contract as requested", until - after over three hours of this laborious process - I finally told them to stop wasting my time and JFDI.

Then, this morning, I woke up to a major service outage.

And just to add a bit of icing to the cake, I then got a phonecall from a random 0800 number, which is apparently linked to an "aggressive" virgin telemarketer process.

Needless to say, any regrets or concerns that I may have had about leaving Virgin have very much been washed away now...

[*] I had to spend over an hour being bounced between "helpdesks", the last time they tried to triple their charges. Online chat seemed like a better option!

[**] English was clearly not their first language, which leaves me to wonder if that was just their work name...

[***] The irony of Virgin flagging this as a risk was not lost on me, given this was their second attempt to increase my package costs after the welcome deal expired!

Defense boffins take notes from sci-fi writers on the future of warfare


Re: Look up David Drake's "Hammers Slammers"

> This is not a particularly new idea

You can go even further back than than Drake or Heinlein; EE Doc Smith's Lensman series was written in the 1930s. and contained a lot of battles between vast fleets of spaceships; his writings had a direct influence on US WW2 battleship design.


An inarguable influence was described in a June 11, 1947, letter[77] to Smith from John W. Campbell (the editor of Astounding, where much of the Lensman series was originally published). In it, Campbell relayed Captain Cal Laning's[78] acknowledgment that he had used Smith's ideas for displaying the battlespace situation (called the "tank" in the stories) in the design of the United States Navy's ships' Combat Information Centers. "The entire set-up was taken specifically, directly, and consciously from the Directrix. In your story, you reached the situation the Navy was in—more communication channels than integration techniques to handle it. You proposed such an integrating technique and proved how advantageous it could be. You, sir, were 100% right. As the Japanese Navy—not the hypothetical Boskonian fleet—learned at an appalling cost."

One thing which he perhaps hasn't been given quite as much credit for, is the concept of using large numbers of unmanned/robotic spaceships to act as the first line of defence and/or soak up enemy fire during an assault. Which is something which we're arguably starting to move towards, with the increasing use of drone technology...

99 year old man says cryptocurrency is for idiots


> No journalist sees the need to report on every accident involving a horse but when one of these newfangled cars hits a lamppost, it's more novel

Bitcoin was released 14 years ago. At what point does it stop being "newfangled"?

Learn the art of malicious compliance: doing exactly what you were asked, even when it's wrong


Re: Steves Failure

> Steve didn’t fail, clearly the manager failed

They both failed.

The manager failed by getting the details wrong, and failing to realise when being repeatedly asked to confirm.

Steve failed, first by dint of the fact that in none of his four requests to clarify the work needed, did he ask for clarification as to why the manager wasn't asking for them to be sorted by last name, or for a justification for sorting them by first name.

And then Steve failed even further, because the result of his actions was to force two of his colleagues to spend an entire day fixing things, which was bad for both the company and the individuals involved.

It's not even clear from the story as to why Steve decided to do this.

In the first instance, there's no suggestion that there was any bad blood or friction between him and the manager.

And in the second instance, while I know there's a bit of a trope around Full Metal Jacket-esque brainwashing of soldiers, Steve was in the Air Force rather than the army, so I'd expect (or at least hope) that there'd be more scope for people to use their intelligence and/or initiative.

In fact, I even stumbled across an article by a USAF Staff Sergeant, about the importance of PPPPPPP...


As a young Boy Scout sitting in a junior leadership training class, I was taught something that sticks with me to do this day. The subject was the Seven Ps: Proper prior planning prevents pitifully poor performance. This phrase ties in very well with our day-to-day mission here.


This also applies to procedures and plans that were in place before we arrived. If you see something you know is not working well and causes problems, don't just shrug it off and say, "That is how we do it here," do something to change it.

Admittedly, this guy was writing in 2005, so probably wasn't even born in the 1970s, but the people teaching him as a Boy Scout would have been active in that era!

So, yeah. I definitely understand the occasional appeal of doing exactly as you've been told, even - or especially - when it's provably wrong[*]. I just can't see why that seemed like a good idea within the context of this story.

[*] I'm mildly reminded of Terry Pratchett's golems here, since they'd sometimes continue to carry out their instructions - no matter how dumb - as a form of rebellion, Sometimes for centuries...

So you want to replace workers with AI? Watch out for retraining fees, they're a killer


Razors and razorblades...

I can't help but think that this article is perhaps leaning on straw men too much.

In the first instance, I agree that training models will need to be updated (and that itself leads to an interesting problem, since over time, the content being used to train said models is likely to be increasingly AI-sourced, similar to how Youtube content-generator bots were fed off data scrapers which indicated what the current popular trends were...), but do they need to be updated weekly?

Barring significant infrastructural changes in the underlying technology, I would have thought an annual refresh would be more than sufficient for the vast majority of purposes.

Secondly, it doesn't really matter how much it costs to train a given model, because this only needs to be done once. After which, you can sell as many copies of the pre-trained data as you want. In much the same way as how software like Microsoft Windows has traditionally been marketed.

To my mind, there's plenty of other issues with AI output - ChatGPT is very capable of producing incorrect answers which look good at first glance, so still needs human curation and verification. And the quality of StableDiffusion images can wildly vary (how many fingers and sets of teeth do you want?), so again, human intervention is needed to curate it's output.

Admittedly, these are things which are likely to improve as we improve the technologies driving these models, and lots of time and CPU cycles will be burnt in doing this training.

But still, it only needs to be done once.

Lockheed Martin demos 50kW anti-aircraft frickin' laser beam


Props for the SWIV reference in the article lead

For the young whippersnappers among us, SWIV was a fairly popular shmup back in the early 90s, in which you could control a heavily armed jeep (and/or helicopter) and deal hot laser death to the usual hordes of enemy vehicles.

Though arguably, the jeep in later game SWIV 3D more closely resembles the mock-up...


Elon Musk's cost-cutting campaign at Twitter extended to not paying rent, claims landlord


Re: Long Term Bonkers

> Kia/Hyundai are addressing the travel issues with models that can charge from 10-80% in under 20 minutes. On my long trips, 20 minutes has been an average non-meal stop. About half of that time is spent refueling, but I need more time now to stretch my legs than I used to

I'll partly agree with this.

I recently had to travel to a data centre with a colleague which is about ~60 miles away; we met at work and then drove over there in his (Hyundai, I think) eCar.

Then on the way back, we stopped at a service station, plugged the car in for a recharge and went to grab food. And when we came back around 25m later, his car battery had slurped up about 50% of it's capacity.

And there were around a dozen charging stations scattered around the service station's car park, of which about two-thirds were unused.

On the other hand... the reason why we had to stop was because the estimated range for his car had pretty much been cut in half, thanks to a combination of near-zero temperature affecting the battery, the need to have heating on in the car and the extra weight of a passenger and a couple of servers.

Put simply, if we hadn't stopped, we'd have ended up pushing the car all the way home.

To be fair, that sort of thing is all part of the learning curve for new technology. But having up to a 35% hit to your range when there's low temperature is a pretty major thing to have to work around!

Still, at least there's no risk of a battery freezing solid if we get any siberian weather conditions, unlike my old diesel workhorse ;)

OK, we know iPhones are expensive but... $11 a month for Twitter Blue on iOS?


Re: I'm still bemused by the whole idea of making the blue badge a profit centre

Fair point - for some reason, my brian decided that it was $12 per month, not $11!


I'm still bemused by the whole idea of making the blue badge a profit centre

As I understand it, Musk's aim is to get half of Twitter's revenue coming from subscriber payments, rather than advertising, etc.

However, with revenues of around $5 billlion, this means that they need to earn around $200 million per month from blue-badge subscriptions.

Which in turn means that they need about 26 million users to sign up to it [*]. Which is somewhere between 10-15% of the total monetisable Twitter userbase.


Is there really that many people willing to pony up $96[**] per year, for the privilege of having a blue badge by their name, an edit button and a slight boost to their visibility ranking? Especially since if Twitter does actually manage to get that many people to sign up to the blue badge, that'll effectively render the boost mechanism utterly meaningless...

[*] Maybe a bit less, depending on whether or not this new Apple-specific charge will be included in the revenue numbers

[**] or $144, in Apple-land

Study suggests AI cruise control could kill traffic jams by cutting out the 'intuition' factor


> I once did a little experiment with lane switching. Whenever my lane was about to reach the pinnacle of its speed, I started to search for a gap to switch to the slower/stationary lane.

Anecdotally, I used to spend a lot of time driving from Ipswich to Watford, which generally involved spending a lot of time sitting in a traffic jam.

The conclusion I came to was that the middle lane generally proved to be the fastest moving. And from what I could see, the reasons for this were:

a) the inner lane was full of HGVs, which are pretty sluggish when it comes to stop/starts - and there's also the fact that people in the inner lane often have to make room for new people joining the motorway

b) the outer lane was full of impatient people, who think it'll be faster, but who then cram together too tightly and therefore cause more stop-starts

Beyond all that, for me the biggest thing would be to somehow get people to obey the "2 second" distance rule; not only does it improve safety, but the additional space gives you more time to brake during a slowdown, which in turn increases the probability that you'll be able to smoothly ride out any sudden braking by the people in front, rather than having to jam on the brakes and trigger a cascade effect.

Alas, people tend to view said 2-second gap as a perfect place to stick their car, especially when it's busy and they're trying to get into the outer lane...

New York cracks down on carbon fuel-based crypto-mining operations


> "The [proof-of-work] mining industry has been spurring economic growth, job creation, and inclusion for historically underrepresented populations in New York, while also creating financial incentives for the buildout of renewable energy infrastructure."

Citation needed

> With this legislation becoming law, we expect the mining companies, or those considering business in the state, to leave and head to more friendly regulatory jurisdictions in the US

Given the way that bitcoin has dropped in value by nearly 75% in the last 12 months, and how ethereum has moved to proof of stake, I would have thought that these dirty power plants are likely to be costing more to run than they're earning in virtual monies. Which by the same token means that I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the affected crypto-bros making a bid to break out of their contracts while using this new legislation as a legal excuse...

Twitter set for more layoffs as Musk mulls next move


Re: Requirements

> Yes, there was a small majority in favour, but surely the barrier should be higher, especially considering the quite appallingly obvious pretensions

Anecdotally, pretty much everyone I know with any form of left-wing leanings has left Twitter. So I suspect that the platform as a whole has taken a lurch to the right, even before you consider the possibility that the recent chaos and gutting of Twitter's content monitoring teams has probably caused lots of trolls and the like to flock to the platform.

All in all, I'm somewhat surprised the vote was that close!

World's richest man posts memes as $44b Twitter acquisition veers off course


I'm shocked...

On the one hand: you can get a lump payout, and then either go find a new job immediately or kick back for the festive season. Hey kids, Daddy's going to be home for Christmas, this year!

On the other, you could stick around and obey the dictates of a distinctly erratic boss, with a significant risk of being fired at a whim. You'll also lose most if not all of your existing job perks (e.g. working from home) and have to support an effectively abandoned platform, for which you'll be lucky to have things like passwords, source code or support documentation. And not only will overtime be mandatory, but you'll also have to provably work harder.

It doesn't feel like it'd be that hard a decision to make, if I'm being honest.

Elon Musk issues ultimatum to Twitter staff: Go hardcore or go home


Re: Easy choice Elon

> Now it seems he deserves to fail, as he expects everyone to work as hard as he does (but without getting the monies).

In the first instance, I'd question how hard Elon actually works, since he seems to spend most of his time trolling on Twitter.

In the second instance, I'd question whether anyone can actually work hard enough to justify the amount of money he has. But then, that's arguably true for all billionaires.

> I really hope the next person is hot on free speech (that doesn't mean consequence free / hate speech) and we can be allowed to have an open and honest debate about certain things (mostly things since 2020) on a large enough platform.

Ah. There's the problem, y'see.

An open and honest debate depends on all sides being open and honest. However, the various - and generally hard right-wing - people who have been bellowing loudest about the lack of free speech and cancel culture have generally been shown to be knowingly lying and/or have a significant conflict of interest - usually financial, but also political and legal.

Boris and Trump are two obvious examples, but there's plenty more:



And that's literally led to the deaths of thousands and even to the well-televised invasion of the US White House, as part of what may have been an attempt at insurrection.

These people are not being honest, nor are they being open. And that's why their input into any debate needs to be monitored and (where necessary) restricted.

Twitter engineer calls out Elon Musk for technical BS in unusual career move


Re: Bit klunky, but...

> YouTube were successful, yes, but pretty much all the other video streaming services from that time are gone now. Netflix I think is the only other one from that time that is still around in a big way.

Youtube and netflix have different business models; Youtube aggregates user-created content while Netflix streams licenced or in-house IP.

And it's the former which is "disruptive", since a lot of the content uploaded to Youtube involves IP which is owned by someone else. Songs, films, TV shows: Youtube was getting lots of high quality media for free while sitting behind the Section 230 "content provider" defence.

And Youtube arguably only managed to survive where other UCC websites didn't thanks to the fact that it was bought out by Google before the content industry could fully gear up to challenging it.

> Operating taxis is not a new thing, sure the app is a nice improvement, but that's a slight improvement to an existing product offering rather than something completely new.

As far as I know, Uber's core business plan revolved around the following:

1) a booking app would let them work around the fact that many countries only let licenced taxis do street pickups

2) taxi drivers could be classed as contractors rather than employees

3) autonomous vehicles were due to launch Real Soon Now

I.e. they could drive out existing taxi services by drowning them in a wave of gig workers, and then drop the gig workers as well with self-driving cars.

And that'd give them a monopoly with practically zero labour overheads, barring a few mechanics and cleaners for their AI taxis.

And that was enough of a compelling enough business plan to get over $25 billion in funding, much of which went into subsidising their services in order to further undercut the competition.

In practice, self-driving cars proved to be a hard problem, and the delays this caused has meant both that other companies have had time to adjust their business models, and that their classification of their "contractor" taxi drivers has been successfully challenged in multiple countries.

> Electric cars are not new at all, they've been around longer than petrol or diesel cars

True, but electric cars were generally seen as a novelty and in general, the vehicle industry is pretty moribund, complacent and very labour intensive. So it was ripe for disruption.

And as with Uber, electric drive trains were only a small part of Tesla's plans. Which revolved around:

1) being first to market with autonomous vehicles

2) a push towards a fully automated assembly process

(To be fair, they've also had some novel new designs - e.g. vastly simpler and lighter wiring cradles, revolutionary battery technologies, etc. But these are arguably just inputs to their business plan. And for the most part, it seems like so far Tesla hasnt actually been able to deliver most of the benefits promised by these designs)

So again, it was all about getting a market monopoly and eliminating labour costs.

But again, self-driving cars have proved to be hard, as has the goal of having fully automated assembly processes. And the former has given their rivals time to catch up, while the latter had kept their costs higher and given their employees the opportunity to demand more rights, better pay, unions, etc.


Re: Bit klunky, but...

> Although I think he's been a) taken and b) has a really tough nut to crack I still think you should take note of the "Do Not Underestimate" label.

Musk is just the latest in a series of speculators and "robber barons", from the businessmen who dominated the USA telegraph network [*], to Frank T Crowe and the Hoover Dam, the guys who founded Youtube, Uber, etc.

Their strengths don't lie in their technical skills, but instead tend to be around the fact that they have enough financial and/or political backing to both outspend their rivals and to effectively be above the law.

Which in turn means that they can ride roughshod into a industry while using a shield of lawyers to obfuscate and confuse things long enough to become firmly entrenched before the relevant political and legal mechanisms have gotten up to speed.

Because that then means that you can force them to accept a compromise dictated entirely on your terms.

And that's something which can work for a startup, especially one in the USA where hustles and crunch time are seemingly baked into the work ethos, especially for the IT industry.

However, where Youtube romped to victory, things haven't been as rosy for Uber, and for all that Tesla is doing well in many ways, it's definitely been stumbling when it comes to things like autonomous driving, new battery tech, quality control and their cybertrucks.

As such, I have my doubts as to whether it's something which can work when trying to take over an existing company with an existing userbase. Since they're generally not as enthused about the inherent instability of the "move fast and break things" ethos.

[*] https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2011/05/how-the-robber-barons-hijacked-the-victorian-internet/

BOFH: Don't be nervous, Mr Consultant. Come right this way …


Re: should we call time on the BoFH?

> As a very long time reader of the BoFH (even before el Reg)

Ah, the days of telling students to walk around while holding a floppy high in the air...

> I am wondering if its getting past time for the BoFH?

Do you have any particular reason for this musing?

I mean, it probably won't reduce the probability that there's now an old roll of carpet and some quicklime lined up for you, but it might act as a form of explanation...

Qualcomm: Arm threatens to end CPU licensing, charge device makers instead


Re: Cause for concern

> But I'd suggest, if they couldn't produce an unequivocal denial straight away, then Qualcomm does have a point.

Good luck finding anyone in the middle of a multi-billion pound lawsuit willing to instantly issue an unequivocal denial. Barring Elon Musk and a recent ex-president of the USA, obviously.

> There seems to be a lot of disparaging of Qualcomm, and of Qualcomm's lawyers in the comments here

It sounds like you're not familiar with Qualcomm, and their historical business model. This may help to explain things:


Qualcomm illegally shut out rivals from the market for LTE baseband chipsets for over five years, thereby cementing its market dominance. Qualcomm paid billions of US Dollars to a key customer, Apple, so that it would not buy from rivals. These payments were not just reductions in price – they were made on the condition that Apple would exclusively use Qualcomm's baseband chipsets in all its iPhones and iPads.

This meant that no rival could effectively challenge Qualcomm in this market, no matter how good their products were

Qualcomm has spent decades litigating rivals out of existence and barring or bribing its customers from using other companies technologies. Even Apple - despite Qualcomm's bribes - ended up suing them; the only reason Apple decided to go for a settlement with Qualcomm is that Intel abandoned the sector, leaving Qualcomm as a defacto monopoly with whom Apple had to return to.

In addition, Qualcomm is currently valued at about $133 billion; ARM was valued at $80 billion when Softbank was trying to flog them off to Nvidia, though Bloomberg puts their actual value at arount $25-$35 billion, given their annual revenues of $2.5 billion.

Which means that Qualcomm is around four times as large as ARM, and their lawyers have decades of experience in tangling their opposition up in costly legalise.

Whichever way you cut it, Qualcomm are very much not the underdogs here, and anyone trying to do business with them is well advised to very carefully read any agreements, and to count all of their fingers both before and after meeting them.


Re: Cause for concern

> I note that Arm have said that Qualcomm's rebuttal is "riddled with inaccuracies", but they haven't actually denied any of these claims.

> Arm is undeniably behaving in an authoritarian manner

Or... Arm is in the middle of a legal battle, and has asked its lawyers to take a very detailed and careful look at things before putting out any sort of response, which will probably have to go all the way to the board of directors for signoff before publication.

The things Qualcomm are claiming are the sort of thing which could destroy Arm as a company. They're not going to reply piecemeal to them.

Equally, Qualcomm has literally spent decades playing dirty tricks with it's patent warchest. So I'm surprised that anyone's willing to jump in on their side without any external verification.

Open source's totally non-secret weapon big tech dares not use: Staying relevant


Google and FOSS may be closer than you think...

I'm not entirely sure entirely I buy into the premise of this article, at least when it comes to comparing Google and FOSS/Linux.

(Can't really dispute the assessment of what's going on with Meta, though. I just wish I had some way to tap into the money tap; maybe I should create a startup which uses AI to generate avatar sock-textures, or somesuch...)

To me, Google's approach is essentially a commercialised take on the FOSS development process: take some smart people, give them a big budget and then see what happens.

(By all accounts, Valve's business model is even more anarchistic, which may help to explain why so little actually comes out from Valve themselves; in the last 5 years, they've released a total of 4 games, of which one was a tech demo, another was a commercialised mod and a third collapsed and died due to being a bit too blatantly pay-to-win...)

I'm also not sure that I agree with this statement:

> [FOSS developers] understand the importance of making things that matter and are very motivated to be a part of that. These resources are limited. Time spent developing, maintaining and testing for a processor that nobody uses is time not spent on current needs

There's certainly developers who do think like that, and Linus Torvalds is a pretty good example.

But I'd also note that most "flagship" FOSS projects are either sponsored by companies such as Google or Microsoft, or have decided to offer services around their technologies. E.g. Elastic, Libreoffice, Mozilla and Redhat. Which means that not only is there's some degree of commercial awareness in the actions these projects take, but a significant number of their developers are paid to work on those projects, rather than doing it just because they're "very motivated to be a part of it".

I'd also question how good it is to have someone working on code for ideological reasons. Because not only can ideologies can clash, but people's ideologies and motivations often change over time. And what happens if you can't find someone who shares that same set of motivations?

E.g. NTP was created by David L Mills, who's sadly now unable to significantly contribute to it any more due to visual disabilities. His code is described as both ideosyncratic and complex, but he agreed to let someone called Harlan Stenn take over the reference implementation

However, Stenn himself is now in his late 60s and has apparently burnt through his retirement funds supporting NTP, though he's also set up a foundation through which donations can be given.


And in the meantime, various issues with NTP has led to other people creating their own forks and implementations - NTPSec, Chrony, even Google with their "leapsmear" approach to time sync.

Which leads to the final point: there's also plenty of waste and duplicated effort in FOSS. I mean: Mysql and MariaDB, anyone? Or how about Openoffice or Libreoffice? Plex and Kodi (nee XBMC)? Or look at what happened to Perl, when Larry Wall decided it was better to start again with Perl 6 (aka Raku), rather than evolving Perl 5?

And as to abandoned FOSS projects? Where do you start?

FOSS has many useful attributes, but flagship projects such as Linux are very much an exception to the rule.

China dumps dud chips on Russia, Moscow media moans


Re: Other rules may apply

> It's also worth considering that, while Russian fuel is much cheaper than the fuel from elsewhere, it's more expensive than it was before the war started. What the price would have been in a world where the war didn't happen is hypothetical but there's reason to expect a different result.

In the first instance, while Russian oil may be more expensive than it was, it's still significantly less expensive than the oil being used by other countries. Which gives India and China a competitive advantage, relative to those countries.

In addition, India appears to be taking Russian oil, relabelling it and then reselling it to countries which have (at least nominally) banned Russian oil imports. So they're effectively getting free money.


Admittedly, this short term profiteering could cause major issues in the long term, once these countries lose their free competitive advantage and "free" export money. But in the meantime, they're doing very nicely, thank you.

The new GPU world order is beginning to take shape



> Similar though slightly earlier start for me, with a 1MB A500 running Sculpt 3D at the back end of the 80s

Hah! Vu 3D on the ZX Spectrum.

Admittedly, I don't think I ever rendered anything other than the built-in goblet model, but hey.

I'm just going to wait for someone to say that they first tinkered with 3D models by feeding paper tape into a PDP-9, getting a print out of coordinates and then chiselling said coordinates into a large lump of stone...

And they were lucky!

No, working in IT does not mean you can fix anything with a soldering iron


Re: family support

> My solution to my brother's constant calls for assistance on his Windows machine, was to convert him to Linux.

Linux can have it's own challenges.

I've got a friend who decided to go for the whole "open source" stack on his personal PC. Which is commendable, but is somewhat complicated by the fact that he doesn't have any technical skills.

In addition, said PC is some ancient low-end AMD thing with a whopping 4GB of ram, which (judging by the file timestamps and kernel versions) he installed Ubuntu somewhere around 8 years ago.

And to further compound things, he doesn't have a fixed internet connection, but instead tethers his PC to his phone.

Sadly, the inevitable happened, and his mobile phone dropped the connection while Ubuntu was updating itself.

The result was a b0rked machine.

I ended up having to drive over, pick the PC up and bring it back to mine, whereupon I was able to get the updates to complete. Unfortunately, celebrations were shortlived, since it then refused to boot up, thanks to some issue with unpacking initramfs.

And I couldn't find any way to fix this, since all the online advice I could find about this issue referred to config files which weren't physically present on this ancient install...

In some ways, Ubuntu was a victim of it's own success; it's pretty impressive that such an ancient install had been patched all the way up to current levels.

But after a full day of faffing and head scratching, I ended up slapping in a new hard drive, doing a clean install and copying all of his /home data over to the new drive.

And I made sure that all the latest updates were installed before I trotted back over to his house...

Online romance scamlord who netted $9.5m jailed for 25 years


Time for some jailhouse rock?

Or has Elvis left the building?

Jokes aside, it's nice to hear that a scammer's been caught. Now, if we could just sweep up the rest of them...