* Posts by Iain 14

26 posts • joined 22 Dec 2010

That's Numberwang! Google Cloud staffer breaks record for most accurate Pi calculation

Iain 14
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Re: Pi day

Probably showing my age, but I always knew Pi Day to be the 22nd of July.

It certainly worked for Mel Croucher, anyway...

Talk in Trump's tweets tells whether tale is true: Code can mostly spot Prez lies from wording

Iain 14

Re: Another possible explanation for the differences

"All the truthful tweets are written by someone other than Trump. So not detecting true/false so much as Trump/NotTrump"

Surprisingly, this doesn't seem to be something the boffins have considered, but is (IMO) quite likely.

It's certainly safe to say that a lot of his tweets are written by others - usually the more official/diplomatic ones, such as the recent tweet regarding the discovery of that lost Argentine submarine.

Even with just a brief skim through Trump's twitter feed (and I seriously wouldn't recommend spending more than 5-10 minutes there), you will find his followers attempting to identify tweets written by others. This is genrally based on a combination of spelling, puctuation (e.g. excessive use of "!"s), word use and tone. When they were tweeted can also be a factor, e.g. his early-morning burst of tweets while watching "FOX and Friends" is a regular source of hysteria and misinformation...

Iain 14

Re: Ignorance can be very powerful

"That said, I have a problem with the dataset. Only 30% were factually incorrect ? Really ?"

You have to remember that, as POTUS, a lot of Trump's tweets are purely "administrative", e.g. today's "HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!" tweet.

In that context, around 30% proven factually incorrect sounds reasonable. Also given the sheer scale of his tweeting (16 tweets in the last 24 hours), that still represents a LOT of lies...

Now Europe wants a four-million-quid AI-powered lie detector at border checkpoints

Iain 14

Re: flag 'suspicious' reactions

"travelers will also be asked questions by a computer animated "border guard" that is localized to the traveler's language and ethnicity"

Well, they say that, but I can't help wondering just how localized they will be in practise.

One example from within the EU that springs to mind is Bulgaria, where even basic reactions like nodding your head don't always mean what you'd normally assume they mean...

Bill Clinton's cyber-attack novel: The airport haxploit-blockbuster you knew it would be

Iain 14

Spitting Image got there first?

I'm sorry to say that I can't take the book's title seriously, as it keeps reminding me of the spoof mini-series "The President's Brain is Missing" (starring Ronald Reagan) that used to run within episodes of Spitting Image...

The eyes have it: 'DeepFakes' bogus AI-meddled videos outed by unblinking gaze

Iain 14

Re: I for one...

"...will be practising talking into a camera without blinking."

Sir Michael Caine discussed doing this in his famous masterclasses on movie acting.

Interestingly - given the context - his reasons for doing it were that it held the viewer's attention and made you look strong and authoritative. Blinking on camera makes your character look weak...

Every major OS maker misread Intel's docs. Now their kernels can be hijacked or crashed

Iain 14

Re: So all of this is just a case of...

The problem with "RTFM" is that it makes inherent assumptions regarding the quality of the manual and the ease by which the reader can correctly interpret it. The "polite" meaning of RTFM that I was always taught was "Read The Fine Manual", and I like this because it puts some of the onus back on the manual writer - i.e. if the manual contains material that's wrong or open to misinterpretation, it's not "Fine", and therefore you can't really blame the reader for any resulting fallout.

As someone who's currently having to rewrite someone-else's manual because an error in it caused an engineer to waste several days trying to work out why the hell his installation didn't work, this is a bit of a sore point at the moment - and I'm sure many here have had similar experiences...

Here we go again... UK Prime Minister urges nerds to come up with magic crypto backdoors

Iain 14

Magical Thinking

"The insistence by political leaders and prosecutors that there is a way to both have a backdoor and not have a backdoor has been put forward so frequently that experts have even come up with a term to summarize it: magical thinking."

Isn't there already a term for it? "Cognitive dissonance".

Just wait for those grapes to turn sour...

Uneasy rest the buttocks on the iron throne. Profits plunge 14% at Sky UK and Ireland

Iain 14

Swindon's too good for him too, but at least there would be the possibility of him getting stuck in perpetuity on the Magic Roundabout...

Users fear yet another hack as TalkTalk services go down

Iain 14


May not be relevant, but a couple of days ago I received a snail mail warning me of an impending network outage. That's not due until next Tuesday, though...

Brown kid with Arab name arrested for bringing home-made clock to school

Iain 14

So none of you lot wouldve been remotely concerned?

As a teenager I used to repair broken digital clocks for pocket money, and I imagine others here have had similar experiences, so no.

As has already been pointed out, it was only a clock. If there had been any signs of a "business end", or any indication that he was trying to obtain explosive materials, then that would be a different matter.

Thirty five Flash Player holes plugged (and there's one quick fix)

Iain 14

Re: Another update due soon?

...And sure enough, the latest updates have fixed it. IE is now running the standard (i.e. non-debug) version of

Iain 14

Another update due soon?

Surprised it hasn't been mentioned yet, but the the Flash Player update that has just been forced on Windows 8.1 and 10 running IE 10 and 11 is the debug version of

The Adobe help forums are already full of puzzled users wondering why they're suddenly being deluged with alert boxes. Expect a Windows update to follow soon...

Violent Hamlet 'bard' by British Library Wi-Fi filters

Iain 14

"So he's sat in the British Library, but trying to access a book on the MIT website, he didn't think about getting off his arse and fetching a real dead tree copy of the book off their shelves"

Others have already said, but the British Library doesn't work like that. Like other research libraries, you have to order a book and it's delivered to you in the reading room. The trend nowadays is to encourage the use of digital copies, as the physical books in collections such as the BL or Bodleian are often so valuable. After all, if you asked for Hamlet in the BL they would probably assume you wanted to see their First Folio, or other rare copies...

'Mainframe blowout' knackered millions of RBS, NatWest accounts

Iain 14

Re: Urban Legend ...

“I read something similar, only it was set in the ICU of a hospital and what they unplugged was the ventilator ...”

Yup - famous Urban Legend. The hospital setting dates back to a South African newspaper "story" in 1996, but the UL itself goes back much further.


Digital player maker 'incited consumers to break the law', says ASA

Iain 14
Gates Halo

Yes, but...

Backups are allowed, but only for computer programs (and only then for personal use, obviously).

This came about due to pressure during the early Home Computer boom, and was introduced in ( I think) the 1988 Copyright Act.

Dentist cuffed for using lost credit card to pay for pizza

Iain 14
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"-handed over wrong card, hence he signed HIS OWN NAME"

No, it doesn't sound like that's the case. According to the original story , as well as theft he's also being charged with forgery, impersonating and attempting to use the ID of another person without consent.

Facebook flick wins three Oscars

Iain 14

Facts can be awkward things...

Daniel Day-Lewis is a tricky one, as he has dual British/Irish nationality. Although born in the UK, he has been known to get upset at being called a "Britsh" actor, and as a result the news reports of his Oscar win were often rather cautiously worded...

Iain 14

No coincidence, but...

It's a bit of a "chicken and egg" thing. To be eligible for the Oscars, a film has to be released in the preceding calendar year, i.e. January to December. That shouldn't really be all that surprising or controversial. However, what it means in practise is that (allowing for a decent nominations period) the Oscars come after the big Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year period, when the studios, unsurprisingly, generally release their biggest films so as to earn the most from the holiday market.

Having said that: studios often deliberately delay the release of films they think might have a chance at the Oscars until later in the year, regardless of the holiday period. The reasoning is that if they're released too early, the Academy members will have forgotten about them by the time it comes for voting. A film released in Easter, for example, is unlikely to make the following year's awards shortlist, regardless of how good it is.

So: yes, the Oscars follow the main Winter film season, but they also help create it...

Conviction overturned for abuse images bought from bookshop

Iain 14
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Goiong back to the original trial...

The Telegraph report on this doesn't entirely clear things up, but it does shed a little more light on the matter.

It's not clear why the police were searching his home in the first place, but in addition to the books, they found 'an "extreme" pornographic DVD'. I' m guessing that DVD was the main reason for prosecuting, however Mr Neal was cleared of that particular charge "on the trial judge's direction".

The trial still continued on the book allegations, though, but the appeal judge has said:

"Against this background, it is a matter of surprise that charges were brought against this individual in respect of the pictures. It is legitimate to wonder if such charges would have been brought against him but for his prosecution in relation to the DVD".

'Tree Octopus' proves journos no smarter than 13-year-old Americans

Iain 14

Research? What research?

As has been mentioned elsewhere, the children were not asked to research the Tree Octopus. They were just asked to review the Zapato website, without being told it was a hoax.

There was therefore no need to nobble Wiki or anywhere-else, for the simple reason that the children were not expected to look at any other site.

Mid-Atlantic Ocean temperatures peaked in 1998

Iain 14
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That's funny...

"When the evidence says something that goes against their dogma they act like the most ignorant creationist and claim it doesn't count."

I find it ironic to see Climate Change advocates likened to Creationists, because all the Creationists I know - and I actually know quite a lot - are very strong Climate Change skeptics*.

This is partly because both Evolution and Climate Change ring "Distrust of Science" bells with these people, but it has to be said that it's also because a lot of CC research goes back over hundreds of thousands of years - and obviously Creationists don't believe the Earth is that old (I've always suspected this was at least one factor in George W Bush's unwillingness/inability to accept CC...)

* Obviously the reverse doesn't follow...

Who are the biggest electric car liars - the BBC, or Tesla Motors?

Iain 14

...and where's the demand?

"It stil highlights the fact that the infrastructure for more than a very small percentage of the population to drive e-cars simply doesn't exist and is unlikely to do so"

Quite so: and the reason that infrastructure isn't likely to improve soon is because one of the things the BBC reports highlighted most successfully was that a demand for even the current poor infrastructure simply doesn't exist at the moment.

One of the most telling comments in the BBC reports was that when they pulled up at a charging station, a small crowd would frequently gather. This was because the BBC car was the first e-customer they'd ever seen there...

Lawyers fear Assange faces death penalty in US

Iain 14
Black Helicopters

Technically correct...

but the US's record isn't quite as good as you (or they) might think.

Reporters Sans Frontieres rated the States as 20th on its Press Freedom Index for 2010 - well ahead of France and Italy (who have big problems at the moment), but behind Estonla (9th) and Lithuania (11th), and barely ahead of Namibia (21st).

For the record: the UK came in at 19, and Sweden was joint top...

National Identity Card holding chumps have buyer's remorse

Iain 14

Beta Testing

The thing is: the voluntary ID Greater Manchester scheme that Ms Epstein and others signed up for was a PILOT scheme. They were therefore fully aware when they handed over their £30 that the scheme might be pulled at some point before being rolled-out nationwide.

If they thought it was a good idea to actually pay full whack for the privilege of helping the government trial this piece of nonsense, more fool them...


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