* Posts by jrd

76 publicly visible posts • joined 6 Dec 2010


Elon Musk shows what being Chief Twit is all about across weird weekend


Re: Quality Review

"I'm also not convinced that software engineers that are focused on automated car software, visual identification, real time control, etc. are the best fit for determining good programming of a social media application."

A good code reviewer can review any code in a language he is familiar with. It may even be an advantage if he is from a different field. Musk is basically saying he doesn't trust Twitter employees to verify the quality of their own product, which seems fair. It's like bringing in external auditors to check a company's accounts.

84-year-old fined €250,000 for keeping Nazi war machines – including tank – in basement


Re: If he had just kept the tank

A fully restored and working Panther would be worth a lot of money. There are about six known in the world. For value, it's all about condition. Not easy to get spare parts though, even of you have the requisite expertise.


Re: Did I miss something?

No. The powered wheels don't touch the ground.


Re: WTF?

If he's allowed to sell his collection, then a 250K fine is reasonable. If the authorities are just going to confiscate it all, then the fine seems punitive.

Dratted 'housekeeping', eh? 150k+ records deleted off UK’s Police National Computer database


Re: Backups

My understanding is this is why databases have transactions logs. So there will still be a record of every change made since the backup (including the erroneous ones) which can be selectively applied. Databases are good at this sort of thing...

Google, Amazon pass on UK Digital Services Tax by hiking ad prices, fees at same rate the government takes


"And you’ll probably end up paying, too, because advertisers build the cost of ads into the prices they charge for their goods and services."

Rubbish. The prices they charge are based on market analysis to generate the highest revenue, market share and/or profit. Costs are irrelevant unless the company has a monopoly.

'iOS security is f**ked' says exploit broker Zerodium: Prices crash for taking a bite out of Apple's core tech


Re: "Zerodium said for the first time that it would pay more for flaws in Android"

> both decent operating systems when configured correctly.

Which is a bit like saying nitroglycerin is perfectly safe when handled correctly. Both statements are true, but you only get to hear about it when "human error" enters the equation.

Sky Broadband is not the UK's cheapest, growls ad watchdog


Re: Disappointingly

The problem is that it is almost impossible to compare products by anything except price. Companies lie about every other aspect of their product apart from the most basic 'facts'. And company 'reputation' doesn't count for much as most products are built in the same third-world hell-holes anyway. Currently, on-line reviews offer a bit of independent advice, but the companies are gaming that system now too.

Most people have realized you might as well buy cheap shit because it's so hard to be confident that what you're buying isn't shit. And people would rather buy chap shit than expensive shit.

'A' is for ad money oddly gone missing: Probe finds middlemen siphon off half of online advertising spend


Re: Victimless crime?

"but the bottom line is the product manufacturer is charged more, who then passes the cost on to the consumer."

You seem to be claiming that reduced return on spend in advertising leads to higher prices.

So, by inference, if the cost-effectiveness of advertising improved, manufacturers would spend less on advertising and reduce their prices?

I don't think so. I think they would increase their advertising budgets and raise their profit margins.


Marketing execs ripped off by agents, intermediaries and fraudsters. Arguably as close to a victimless crime as you'll find.

I struggle to find any sympathy for companies that find a large share of their advertising spend is worthless, or to think of any way in which my life would be improved by their advertising being more cost-effective. I guess I'd see it differently if I worked in Marketing though.

Remember when Europe’s entire Galileo satellite system fell over last summer? No you don’t. The official stats reveal it never happened



Hold on - are they really saying the availability target for a GPS system is 75%?

I would imagine most users would be expecting something closer to 99.99%.

Especially if you're using it to navigate aircraft and the like.

If I had a ballpoint pen that only worked 75% of the time, I'd throw it away.

Remember the Uber self-driving car that killed a woman crossing the street? The AI had no clue about jaywalkers


Re: Surely

Even more serious bug: if you can't recognize something, assume it is safe to ignore. The whole reason to identify objects is so you can predict their behaviour. If you fail to identify them, sensible defensive programming practice says you should assume the worst case for now - say, as an object which can move quickly in any direction without warning. Which is entirely reasonable, if it is an animal the software hasn't encountered.

Driving software has to Fail Safe, just like any other software controlling dangerous equipment. This is such a basic requirement that I can't believe Uber isn't facing criminal prosecution over this.

YouTube's radicalizing Alt-right trolls and Facebook's recruiting new language boffins


Re: Alt Right is PC for Rascist, lets call them racist to be clear

"Stop using the euphemism alt-right to refer to racism, that just enables the racist."

Problem is, who gets to assign the labels and who gets to decide what they mean? I remember a time when people described themselves as "alt right" to mean they had right of centre views but did not align themselves with existing right-wing groups (such as the Republicans). These were often libertarian, free-market, minimal-government types, and there was no implication that they were also neo-Nazis or white supremacists.


Re: Radicalization

I am prepared to accept that some material should not be readily available. However the problem is always - who gets to decide? I don't trust Google to determine what material I should be permitted to view. Nor do I trust my government, because corporations and governments have a poor track record of acting as impartial arbiters of the public interest.



Buried in the article is this gem: "We use the consumption of Alt-right content as a proxy for radicalization." And I think this is a fundamental problem. I don't think it is reasonable to equate receiving propaganda with believing propaganda. I have watched many videos on youtube containing content that I disagree with. The nature of the "people who liked X also like Y" style of recommendations is that you will be exposed to content you might not otherwise have found, but that's just as true of amazon's book recommendations system and has nothing to do with "radicalization", unless you have some way of identifying what people actually think.

Speaking from personal experience, I watched a lot of Jordan Peterson's videos on youtube and, as a result of the recommendation system, have seen a number of "alt right" videos which I would not otherwise have encountered. But this is a GOOD thing - I am now better informed and more aware of some of the nastier views around. I have not become more "alt right" as a result, but I have become more aware of extremist ideologies and the dangers they represent online. The way to defeat ignorant and despicable ideology is through exposing and ridiculing it, not hiding it away and saying "this content is too dangerous for you to see".

Let's see what the sweet, kind, new Microsoft that everyone loves is up to. Ah yes, forcing more Office home users into annual subscriptions


Old timer

Still using Office 2003. Still works fine. Still does just about everything I want from a word processor/spreadsheet.

Also still using Photoshop CS2. Ditto.

Silly money: Before you chuck your chequebook away, triple-check that super-handy digital coin


Re: Bullion's where it's at

On the off-chance that you are unaware, if you're in the UK, gold sovereigns have the advantage that profits made on them are not liable to Capital Gains Tax (unlike bullion).

Loose tongues and oily seamen: Lost in machine translation yet again


Re: Brian is listening to music on Radio Blackpool

I suspect that if you know you are going to be speaking through a translation program, it is relatively easy to use simple sentences and avoid words and sentence structures which are likely to be troublesome. Which is pretty much what you'd traditionally do when speaking with someone not fluent in the language.

The Eldritch Horror of Date Formatting is visited upon Tesco


Use By dates

I remember one consumer/food programme where they measured bacteria in different foods kept in a fridge over a couple of weeks. Most foods were safe to eat several days after the "use by" dates. Amusingly, the bacteria count actually went down in some foods over time!

Sophos antivirus tools. Working Windows box. Latest Patch Tuesday fixes. Pick two: 'Puters knackered by bad combo


Well, I'm baffled. I run Windows 7 and Sophos Endpoint of my home PC and I haven't experienced any problems (I rebooted yesterday because I hadn't heard about this problem). Maybe I missed an update somehow?

Only plebs use Office 2019 over Office 365, says Microsoft's weird new ad campaign


I'm still using Office 2003. It still does everything I need.

It may be poor man's Photoshop, but GIMP casts a Long Shadow with latest update


Picked up a cheap second-hand copy of Photoshop CS2 some years back after failing to get to grips with GIMP. CS2 does everything. Not at all easy to learn, but there's such an established user base that I can type "cs2 how to ..." for just about anything and find an an article or video to help me out. It's also been rock solid (probably the most reliable non-trivial application I've ever used).

UK.gov online dating tips: Do get consent, don't make false claims or fake profiles


Gender balance

I have a male friend who has used dating sites on and off for 20 years. He says that the message/response ratio has completely reversed as he has got older - he's in his early 50s and he gets women contacting him first now and finds it easy to get dates (which wasn't the case 20 years ago). Maybe he's writing better profiles now but his appearance hasn't changed much and he's not rich.

Hold on. Here's an idea. Let's force AI bots to identify themselves as automatons, says Cali


The last thing we want is bots being programmed to sound and act more like humans. If I'm calling Tech Support I do not want to have to interact with a chatty "human like" bot programmed by someone whose life ambition is to make something that can pass the Turing Test.

"Please let me speak to a human"

"What makes you think I am not a human, Sir? Sorry, I think I'm going to sneeze. My hay-fever's really been playing up this year"

Date engraved onto net neutrality tombstone: June 11, 2018


Well, at least we'd never elect a government which would do something so stupid here in the UK.


For some reason, you lot love 'em. So here are the many ThinkPads of 2018


Re: Something to look forward to

You too, huh? Currently using a second-hand T420 which replaced a second-hand X60 which replaced a second-hand X30... And they're all still working machines :-)

10 PRINT "ZX81 at 37" 20 GOTO 10


Re: Nostalgia

Correct. You'd then write a small loader program which would allow you to enter hex machine code into the REM statement. You couldn't safely load machine code directly into memory as this would be cleared automatically when you typed RUN so hiding it in a REM statement was a common trick.



First, type in 1 REM followed by 620 zeroes...

--- on a keyboard with no repeat where the screen redraw takes a measurable amount of time and happens after each keypress...

No Windows 10, no Office 2019, says Microsoft


Windows 7. Office 2003. Photoshop CS2. All stable, reliable, and functional.

And when I can no longer get updates for Windows 7, I'm off to Linux.

Meet R2-DILDO: 'Star Wars' sex toys? This is where the fun begins


> Daily Mail ran this story on 6th December. Only 3 weeks late. Keep up.

I'm sure this story was unearthed by El Reg's team of hard-working and dedicated researchers, I refuse to believe they're just copying old articles from the Daily Mail (the shame of it!)

Report: Women make up just 17% of IT workforce, paid 15% less than men


Re: A good point - complaints are directed at 'good jobs'

> I can't off the top of my head think of a well-paid role that women are over-represented in, though.

Veterinarians in the US are 81% female and have a Median pay of $87,590/year.

Lenovo spits out retro ThinkPads for iconic laptop's 25th birthday


Re: I dont see the appeal...

Here's what I like about the business-class Thinkpads:

Keyboards are generally very good

Machines are usually easy to service, and upgrade

Good documentation available and easy to get parts for

Usually, Trackpoint and trackpad and decent buttons

Big user base means pretty likely to find a solution to any problem you encounter

Robust, reliable, well built and last a long time

Usually reasonable selection of ports

No one thing makes me think I must buy a Thinkpad but whenever I look at the alternatives, they always seem to be missing features I want, even if they have better screens, higher performance and less weight.


Another fan

Now on my third Thinkpad - a T420 I bought second-hand four years ago for £329. All three machines still work (the X30 runs XP and the X60 runs Linux). Solid, dependable workhorses and I love the nipple mouse. They have their flaws but I wish everything in my life was as reliable as my Thinkpads.

Everyone loves programming in Python! You disagree? But it's the fastest growing, says Stack Overflow


Re: Perl or bust!

Perl - a solution to every problem.

Unfortunately, never the best solution to any problem...

Terry Pratchett's unfinished works flattened by steamroller


Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

+1 for the Tiffany Aching series. I think they're among Pratchett's most enjoyable books. Don't be put off by the 'Young Adult' label.

Foxit PDF Reader is well and truly foxed up, but vendor won't patch


Re: Alternatives/ Replacement

FWIW, I have used PDF-XChange Viewer for over a a year without problems. Seems at least "good enough" for casual use.

Google and its terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week in full


"A 10 page manifesto about his workplace? Seriously, who has the time? If I was that upset about my work I'd find a new job. Although if it afforded me the time time to write 10 pages of drivel I'd probably just keep quiet and take the money..."

Well, he did it in his own time. So far as I can tell, he really loved working at Google and was trying to do his bit to fix what he thought was wrong with the company (though, obviously, we can only speculate about his true motives). Many hi-tech companies encourage their staff to come up with ideas to improve the ways in which their company works. Was James naive and over-confident? Yes. Was he an idiot? Possibly. Did he expect to get fired? No.


Re: "why Blacks are such fast runners?"

"Especially since there is nearly a 50/50 mix in other countries like India and China. The difference in the US is obviously not genetic, unless someone wants to make a case that the difference between men and women in suitability for tech jobs exists only in Caucasians."

James' argument is that distribution of personality traits differs by sex (this is well supported by science) which leads to different preferences in career. However, women are not equally free in all countries to follow their preferences in career. Women in affluent, egalitarian societies are more free to choose the careers which match their personality traits, which leads to the large gender differences we see in some professions in the West. There is a lot of literature on this subject (also known as the Nordic Gender Equality Paradox).

There is a good discussion about some of James' points at http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exaggerated-differences/

Google diversity memo: Web giant repudiates staffer's screed for 'incorrect assumptions about gender'


Re: Article by a former "Google Distinguished Engineer"

> In truth, I'm not sure about his title - someone else mentioned it. In any case, this is actually a considered response, in my opinion: "So, about this Googler’s manifesto"

Well, if by "considered response" you mean "I would have him fired immediately and escorted from the building"... I think this response well illustrates the sort of problem the original manifesto was attempting to spotlight.

Snopes.com asks for bailout amid dispute over who runs the site and collects ad dollars


Re: Rubbish notion

> So, people must learn not to just trust one source, but to seek out many sources and make their own minds up.

Which leads to precisely the same problem faced by students of ancient history - many of the historical accounts are derivative and they rarely identify their sources (let alone their biases or the biases of their target audience).

Brits must now register virtually all new drones and undergo safety tests


This is nothing new. Plenty of hobbyists have found their hobby suddenly becomes regulated when it attracts government attention, often because of an upswell of interest or serious incident. It's frustrating but I can't see a way around it, other than regulate/restrict the drones themselves. Which would upset the enthusiasts even more...

CoinDash crowdfunding hack further dents trust in crypto-trading world


Like all Ponzi schemes, the digital currencies all suffer from the same problem - early adaptors are the ones who make all the money if it's successful. So why not just start your own digital currency, rather than paying to join someone else's? According to Wikipedia: "There were more than 900 cryptocurrencies available over the internet as of 11 July 2017 and growing".

UK regulator set to ban ads depicting bumbling manchildren


Re: This is a good thing

"Women are under-represented in STEM careers. Showing girls playing with stereotypically boys toys (Lego and Meccano for example) can encourage them to work in fields that aren't traditionally seen as feminine. Same goes for boys who may want to work in traditionally female dominated fields."

I understand the theory but this just isn't supported by evidence. The Scandinavian countries have been implementing equality legislation based on this theory for decades and the result is they have fewer women entering STEM careers than countries with far less equality. It seems that the more "equal" peoples' opportunities are, the more they gravitate towards the fields they are interested in - so women go into nursing and teaching and men go into engineering and construction. There is plenty of academic literature on the subject.

NHS WannaCrypt postmortem: Outbreak blamed on lack of accountability


Re: But they had Sophos

If an infected file couldn't be cleaned, it would be quarantined (made inaccessible) instead, wouldn't it? Then the sysadmin can sort it out. That's how Sophos Anti Virus works on my PC, anyway...

NHS Digital stopped short of advising against paying off WannaCrypt


Re: Survival of the fittest

It seems plenty of Windows 7 machines were affected because they hadn't been patched. This suggests that having the XP patches available would not necessarily have helped much.

If an organization has poor security practices and unreliable backups, it's going to be vulnerable no matter what.

Head of US military kit-testing slams F-35, says it's scarcely fit to fly


Re: There have been planes like this before. -De Havilland Mosquito

Well, that's sort-of true, but it's like saying the sniper rifle is a very cost effective weapon so all our soldiers should carry them. The Mosquito was a precision weapon and the Lancaster wasn't. If we had sent Mosquitos on thousand-bomber raids over Germany, they would have been shot to pieces by the German air defences.

Infosec white-coats: Robots are riddled with software security bugs


Legal liability?

If an autonomous domestic robot injures someone, is the manufacturer legally liable?

Does this change if the robot's software has been hacked?

Trump's 140 characters on F-35 wipes $2bn off Lockheed Martin


Re: "Grounded by bad weather? A fighter jet? You have GOT to be kidding me"

> Military aircraft are always being grounded by bad weather.

Well, yes - but you'd hope avionics had moved on in the last 70 years. Civilian airliners manage to fly in (nearly) all weathers, after all, and most of them are not state-of-the-art aircraft.

Is your Windows 10, 8 PC falling off the 'net? Microsoft doesn't care


Re: Reboot pray repeat

It's stuff like this that makes linux users smile with perhaps a hint of insufferable smugness and condescension

Fixed that you you...

UK warships to have less firepower than 19th century equivalents as missiles withdrawn


I have no problem with us deciding we don't need a modern, combat-capable army, navy and air force, but I do have a problem with us having the fourth largest military expenditure in the world and negligible capability in all areas except massive nuclear destruction.

And, if we're only planning on taking on pirates and third-world militias, what's the problem with our equipment being "obsolete" anyway?