* Posts by Kinetic

37 posts • joined 6 Feb 2011

Weather forecasters are STILL banging on about 5G clashing with their sensors. As if climate change is a big deal


Why not use 4G/5G?

I'm genuinely curious, why not just replace the existing transmission system with a cellular 4G/5G system, at the network's cost. The networks get some early adopters to test their system, and the weathermen get their data. It seems obvious enough that I assume there's some fatal flaw in this plan.... any ideas?

Rights group launches legal challenge over London cops' use of facial recognition tech

Black Helicopters

Re: A fine distinction

Because (if it was any good) it could be used to continually monitor everybody, and generate a graph of who is seen with who, where they go, what they do etc.

Want to see who attended a political rally, it's just a query away. Want to see who they went to the rally with, sure, easy. Who are their friends? What about people who went to a demonstration about police brutality? Where do they work? Hmm interesting, I wonder if their work knows about their radical political views, or their wife knows about the pretty young woman they went to the demo with.... and <clickty, click> have spent a number of evenings with in various travel lodges "away on work" with. Maybe we should ask them...and then..again about their opposition to our policing methods...

You know everyone is up in arms about cookies tracking you online? This is basically it in real life. The rub is that the cookie is your face .... want to opt out, easy, just change your face.

Atari accuses El Reg of professional trolling and making stuff up. Welp, here's the interview tape for you to decide...


I can't believe the Ref didn't stop the fight!

Seriously, that was rather one sided. It wasn't even sporting. Next time we need a handicapping system. Say the reg journo has to use words with a maximum length of for letters? That should go well....

Uber's disturbing fatal self-driving car crash, a new common sense challenge for AI, and Facebook's evil algorithms


Re: You've missed the scariest parts

"Here's another thought. What about all those handicapped people unable to drive themselves yet unable to access vital necessities due to lack of timely public transit?"


I know, mind blowing, right?

Added benefit of having a real live meatbag in the car with you if you have some kind of problem.

And in your hip, right-on tabloid example, they wouldn't be allowed to drive one of these because the human has to be able to take over in all sorts of situations.

These things aren't solving a problem, they are a dangerous flash futuristic toy for the rich.

Windows Mixed Reality: Windows Mobile deja vu?



They waited until there were two established player's in a market big enough for probably 1 and a half. They made sure that anyone with enough interest and disposable income had already got a headset and controllers, then launched. Launched claiming to be something different, which people wouldn't recognise. To make sure every base was covered, they had a bunch of oem's produce indistinguishable hardware to confuse everyone. The samsung headset was the best with slightly better resolition, so obviously it was released last. The Microsoft home thing is half arsed, and a rubbish concept anyway.


The inside-out tracking worked nicely though. They should sell that to Oculus and HTC in the fire sale.

The KITT hits the Man: US Congress urged to OK robo-car trials


Re: The old "my satnav is crap therefore autonomous cares will be unsafe" argument

There's no way in hell you'd rely on a central data feed to notify you of things like lane closures. You have to do that in real time based on environmental feedback. Yes if a road is closed, a data update to reroute all the traffic to another route is a good idea. If you rely on central updates, what happens when someone breaks down on a road and blocks a lane - you just going to run into the back of him / wait behind him because you think it's a traffic jam?

The more genuinely autonomous we can make these vehicles, the better. Ideally they'd be completely disconnected from any central update / control system, so no coordinated hack can hold everyone to ransom.

Personally I don't see the attraction of them, but if we are going down this path they have to be able to handle everything the world throws at them. After all, before long no-one will be able to drive, so who's going to get the car out of trouble ?

When clever code kills, who pays and who does the time? A Brit expert explains to El Reg


Re: *A* Brit Expert

"Because no one can predict what the AI will become or do in the future. Particularly regarding decisions that no human can understand, as happened in the latest Go competitions."

Yes, in which case it's doubly important to hold the companies in question to account. Maybe, just maybe they should have explored the unexpected consequences... if they decided they were too unpredictable then, pulled the product and I dunno, not risked killing everyone.

There is a glut of positive thinking going on in the AI and robotics space. Seen the latest Killbot-lite video with fully autonomous drones that successfully "Hunt" humans through dense woods using computer vision? It's okay, because they are just filming their owners. Weaponisation in 3-2-1.... Ooops

Don't get me started on Boston Dynamics, those guys saw Terminator 1 and cried at the end when Arnie got killed.

Some serious accountability needs to get injected to start people reconsidering what their products can be re-purposed as, or how they might fail / go rogue.

'DJI Mavic' drone seen menacing London City airliner after takeoff


Re: Join a club

Yes, but the point of a Mavic and other popular drones is to act as a flying camera platform. No-one is looking to photograph the grass in that flying Club's field. If I wanted to fly just for fun, I'd buy a racing drone or suchlike. From what I've heard parks require permission from the local council, unless you have a list of parks that have declared themselves drone friendly?

Black Helicopters

"We will continue working together with regulators to help our users understand the safe and legal operation of aerial technology."

Oh good, they're going to come clean and admit there isn't anywhere you can use them legally. That's going to put a dent in their sales.

Seriously, look into it, anywhere in the UK you were planning to fly your drone is probably illegal; well, without getting the landowner's permission and/or filling in paperwork. I nearly bought a Mavic, but quickly discovered that the only way I was realistically going to be able to fly was either illegally, inside my house or at sea.

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


Wort bit is the upgrade/repair-ability

If the v2 is like the v1, you can't upgrade or fix the most basic parts, and neither can Microsoft. You send it in for "repair", you'll get a refurb back. Yay a stranger's laptop, i hope they took care of it.

They are hideously complex things - it's a miracle they work at all.

For £3k i expect perfection, non replaceable parts isn't it. I'll have a regular ultrabook thanks.

Level 5 driverless cars by 2021 can be done, say Brit industry folk


Positive thinking overload.... what about the flipside

We seem to have heard quite enough from the optimists about just how marvellous it will be to fall out of the pub at 2am and get the car home just like the good-ol-days, but what might go wrong with this cunning plan?

There's many minor glitches. These include getting people to trust that an old £100 Fiat automated banger in 20 years time. Trust that it will still function correctly and not kill everyone inside it, the first time it has a memory error. However, the big BIG BIG problem, is inadvertently creating a new weapon of mass destruction.

Yes, yes, down-vote at the ready, but think about it first. If this automated revolution is successful, and god knows there's enough people cheering it on, the streets will be full with millions of fully automated vehicles. These machines are capable of being reprogrammed, and because the optimists are in charge, it will doubtless be over-the-air updates at that. What you have here is a massive mobile botnet in waiting.

Now I can see you reaching towards your keyboard muttering about secure protocols and testing etc, but frankly that just isn't good enough. It's not even close. This is a massively distributed killing machine. It's the perfect weapon of mass destruction. It comes with pre-loaded hostages in case you were thinking about stopping parts of it. It has software carefully engineered to identify humans, which could be trivially re-purposed to target humans. It can navigate to target's kill them and automatically recharge and redeploy indefinitely. Best of all, it's already deployed all around it's targets. Basically you can hold the whole world to ransom. The best bit is you can do this indefinitely. Issue your demands, then allow things to continue as normal, as long as 10,000 people in each country remain as hostages in their cars. They won't be permitted to exit the vehicle until another enters a vehicle elsewhere. If there's an attempt to break the botnet, then (n) people will be killed a minute until the attempt stops. You can basically rule the world this way.

So back to my point about security. All security is breakable. All you are doing by adding more cryptography and checks is raising the effort level to a point where it isn't worth it for the attacker. Here the security would have to be perfect, as the payoff is basically infinite. Nobody must be able to compromise the system, not nation states, not the companies who make the vehicles, not the developers of the software. You would have to treat this system are more dangerous and secure than any nuclear weapons system.

This is not going to happen.

What if we go back to why we are creating this massive potential disaster. This is a solved problem, it's called a Taxi and it works very well. Yes, you have to pay someone each time you use the vehicle, but Uber seems to have made that pretty painless. I imagine someone has already taken the next step and created "season passes" that allow you to travel as much as you want within a geographic area. So what's the problem? Smelly humans driving the vehicles? Okay, legislation on hygiene and qualifications to be a cab driver. Bad vehicles used as taxis - stricter rules for Taxi vehicles. Worried about personal safety in a taxi, fit them with CCTV and 24/7 tracking. Bad driving? Then crack down on dangerous driving, not just speeding. What is the actual problem we are solving here?

Is it because we saw it in a Sci-fi film and it looked cool......... probably.

So no, I don't think it's a great idea. Would I love to be able to press a button on my phone and have my car come find me? Sure, that would be awesome! It's just that things are never quite that simple.

DJI: Register your drones or no more cool flying vids for you


This is the least of the problems with drone ownership in this country (if you are bothered about doing things legally).

So you can't fly:

*) In a conjested area (so nowhere near anyone else's property). For most of us this then means not over our own property. It also rules out cool shots of towns/cities.

*) You have to get a land owners permission before flying over it. Sure let me just lookup who owns this field and phone them...um yeah....

*)How about those lovely national parks? The national trust banned drones.

*) How about the forests? Forestly commission banned them (but they are considering their position)

*) Beaches? May be legal as long as there are no other people on it.

*)Obviously anything anywhere near any local or major airfields is absolutely out.

There have been reports of some people getting permission to fly in council parks, but they did have to fill out health and safety assessments before each flight.....

Basically if DJI were to implement this properly, it pretty much wouldn't let you take-off unless the owner of your current location logged into their portal and enabled your drone.

I actually had a DJI Mavic on order before I started looking into where i could fly it legally. I cancelled it after i realised there's basically nowhere to fly that isn't a buttload of aggravation.

EU security think tank ENISA looks for IoT security, can't find any


Re: please...

Rule 3) Mandatory bug bounty programs, with rewards inline with risk. So for a car say $50,000,000 for gaining control of a drive by wire system.

That should concentrate minds on both sides :)

User loses half of a CD-ROM in his boss's PC


No way that happened.

I call bullshit. Have you tried to break a cd in half with your hands? No way this could happen, and if you did manage to break it, the state of the disk would make it abundantly clear it was broken.

So, no, didn't happen.

'No deal better than bad deal' approach to Brexit 'unsubstantiated'


By definition a bad deal will be worse than no deal, otherwise it wouldn't be a bad deal. Honestly it's not hard to dream up a terrible set of terms that we'd rather walk away from than take.

Can we stop making things more complex than they already are please. There's going to be plenty to get upset about in the next two years, lets try to stop making it more difficult than it needs to be.

Microsoft's development platform today: What you need to know


Just say NO to Xamarin Forms

I'm a long time developer with Microsoft's tools, but unlike the linux fanboys here i love them. You don't need a licence for community edition (which is really good these days), and complaining about the £70 or so I spent on an OS 5 years ago seems a little tight. Yes, yes, privacy corcerns etc, they have been pricks about that and the upgrade process.

But Xamarin forms ...... oh my .... the only positive thing to say about the experience was that it's better than titanium. But then so is whipping up an app in machine code.

Dear Tesla, stop calling it autopilot – and drivers are not your guinea pigs


Fundamentally flawed.

Either it needs to be able to deal with all any any situations that might arise, or it's not ready. This idea that people are going to drive for hours on a motorway with their hands and feet hovering near the controls, ready to take over at any stage ... and not fall asleep / get totally distracted is nonsense. It's a manufacturer cop-out to try and sidestep responsibility.

I can see how some people would go for full automation, but this half-assed sort-of automation is just asking for problems.

To the people who keep parroting the line about them already being safer - lets see the stats breakdown on that one before buying the marketing, but in addition, that's almost not the point. When you have a crash whilst driving your car - you had some skin in the game. Quite literally your life. The guy who wrote the bad update code that causes the autonomous car you were riding in to crash would doubtless feel terrible about you being killed, then he would go on with his life. There may not even be a fine.

The distinction here is that by putting your life on the line, you buy in a certain amount of trust from the other road users. You have as much to lose as them. The guy 9-5ing it in a software house on the other side of the world who messed up and killed you and other road users hasn't "bought-in". He needs to be held to a higher standard with rigorous testing.

Here's another interesting thought experiment. Say we assume that the "AutoPilot" software is good enough. Then we say that we pass a law that stipulates that if the deaths per mile with AutoPiliot exceeds that of regular drivers, the entire development and testing team are executed. Now they have some skin in the game. Do you think the testing regime is going to stay the same or get much more thorough? If you think it will get more thorough, I thought the software was good enough? Good enough for strangers maybe, but not them!

UK needs comp sci grads, so why isn't it hiring them?


11.7% !! That's crazy low!

If my experience with the people on my CS course many years ago, and fellow coders since is anything to go by, it should be more like 50% or higher.

Seriously, 11.7% shows just how desperate companies are to take on developers. How many of these people were able to turn the PC on?

Microsoft acquires Xamarin: An obvious move not without risks

Thumb Up

Great, now fix all the problems in Xamarin!

This is great news as long as they roll up their sleeves and get fixing stuff fast. Xamarin as a concept is great, but there are a number of problems especially in forms.

Speed, more speed! The layout seems crazy slow right now.

A deterministic layout engine would be nice on Android. You can have a layout that works 3 out of 4 times. It's exactly the same code and data, but the fourth time you visit the page, it lays out differently. This seems to be especially true of text labels - WTF? How do you even go about creating a bug like that?

Layouts in forms, generally suck. Padding doesn't work the same on iOS as android, Grid layouts are particularly unpredictable. Nesting layouts (which you inevitably have to do) can produce unexpected layout issues.

Intellisense support for Xamarin forms XAML. It's basically unusable right now. We write everything in code, as we get intellisense support there, and with the long compile / install times you cannot afford the hit/miss nature of writing XAML without intellisense.

Create a decent paging system for Xamarin Forms, the existing ones sucks bad. When you change from one page to the next, everything visibly blanks/redraws and generally looks very unprofessional.

We are looking at binning theirs and creating our own in-page solution.


Generally, writing in C# in visual studio for mobile is a great experience, but there's enough problems right now that it's not the slam-dunk obvious recommendation that it should be.

Did I mention speed?

Stop the debugger failing to connect about 25% of the time, and the app crash on startup with a debugger about 10% of the time (with android).

Fix the use of partial classes - you get a weird bug where it sometimes can't hit breakpoints in code that's split across two files (haven't seen this for a week or so, so it may be fixed).

Fix the fast deploy system for android so that it doesn't miss changes you make and consequently waste half your day hunting for problems that don't exist!

Really hope they fix all this, as writing mobile apps in C# is a whole better experience than either Java or JavaScript+HTML in my experience.

We can't all live by taking in each others' washing


Re: Everything is the product of labour

Who built the Robot factory? If robots, who built them (and so on) what you end up with is a very shrewd investment of time and effort on the part of the guy who built the robots who built the factory that built everything. One assumes he owns it all, and therefore is getting a huge amount of money for it. He still put the effort in initially. He's just much smarter than the guy who goes and does everything himself - a better tool was designed and used, that's all.

Fixing Windows 10: New build tweaks Edge, sucks in Skype


Sorry, I've forgotten, why do I want this again?

This isn't actually meant as a snarky remark (well any more than usual around here).

What was the reason to go through the grief of upgrading? I have a working operating system that I'm perfectly fine with (7) ... I also have 8.1, which I've pretty much come to terms with (I'm ignoring all the unpleasant bits). I can browse, skype, develop, play games etc. All good.

So .... 10 .... why? I know it's free as in beer, but it's not free from grief and re-training etc. I need a reason to make me actually want this thing. TIFCAM apps aint it, that's for damn sure.

Probably the answer is - because Microsoft will stop selling 8, pull support for the others, and therefore generally shunt us into it regardless of us wanting it or not. I'm just hoping for a better answer...

Can we speak in private? Chat app intros end-to-end crypto tech


Utterly pointless and probably counter productive.

Wouldn't be surprised to find that this had been bankrolled by the security services. Even IF it's not back-doored (and that's a very big IF), they'll probably just take note of all the phones that do download this then treat them with much more interest than usual. Probably upto and including putting spyware on the phone and getting the conversation before it's encrypted. All you'd do by installing this is guarantee that MI6 will read it all.

'One Windows' crunch time: Microsoft tempts with glittery new devices


A boring little-customisable one size doesn't fit all interface? Ooh, yes please!

I want to know who thought this was going to fly with users. I suspect EPIC levels of wishful thinking were involved. I totally get why this would be awesome for Microsoft if it worked, but that's not the point is it? First it has to work. And for that I need to put down my Android phone + tablet, my Ps4, my Windows 7/8.1 and think:

Hmm, what I really want here is exactly the same experience on all these different devices, even though I use them for totally different things in different situations with different people.

Also, while I'm at it could I have some less choice in making my device less identical to everyone else's.

What I really want is the feeling of renting a device off a faceless corporation who will control what and how their device functions.

Ooh, ooh, and if you could catalog and go through all my personal information, track what I do and type and send it off to servers around the world for future usage .... that would be amazing.

Yup, totally expect this to set the world on fire.

Don't want to upgrade to Windows 10? You'll download it WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT


Don't run the windows cleanup utility. We killed two windows 7 boxes with it last month. It doesn't kill them every time, but about 50% is bad enough. By kill i mean non-recoverable reinstall os kill.

Essentially malware.

Spotify climbs down on new terms and conditions


Subscription Cancelled

Sorry, don't believe anything you say Spotify. The chances of the wording on a legal notice getting through a large organisation without it being endlessly worked over is nil. You knew what you were saying and meant it. You got caught, now watch your platform burn. Maybe the next organisation will think twice before shafting it's paying customers? Probably not, they all seem to be greedy idiots.

The sad song Samsung's sung: SEVENTH quarterly fail in a row


S6? Sounds like an awesome deal.....or maybe not...

I have an S5, and from the little research I have done (http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/galaxy-s6-vs-galaxy-s5), upgrading doesn't look like a good deal. I'd lose the SD card slot and water resistance for the nearly double the cost - oooh, where do I sign? (and yes I do use the SD card, and yes it's full)

Time for Samsung to come clean and admit: "We thought we'd pull an Apple and gouge the customers for every penny they have. Turns out that android people have a choice of manufacturers, who knew?"

E-voting and the UK election: Pick a lizard, any lizard


The basic flaw with the whole democratic process as sold to us is that you cannot ever know what the parties not in power would actually do, and will only have a slight idea what a party that has actually been in power would do if elected again.

This leaves you with two options:

1) Believe everything they say and vote accordingly (good luck with that).

2) Vote against a party that you want to get out of power / vote for more of the same.

Personally I go for option 2, so that means that I either vote Conservative or Labour depending on how disenfranchised I am. Personally I feel that the current incumbents have done a decent job given the circumstances, so would rather not roll the dice to see what happens with Labour in.

It's an imperfect system, but it beats the hell out of the alternative for changing unpopular rulers, civil war and genocide.

Getting the voting turn-out higher.... why... because more is better? Big numbers are nicer? They were given the option to vote, they can't be bothered to even express that view. If you encourage them to vote, all you are doing is nullifying someone else's carefully considered view. Personally I'd like it to go the other way, have some sort of an entrance exam to see if you have been paying attention:

Which countries have this government been at war with in the past 5 years?

To the nearest £100 billion, what is our current national debt?

How long is it expected to take to pay this back given normal economic conditions (to the nearest decade)?

You could even publicise the questions in the run-up, to force potential voters to take a rudimentary interest in what's been going on. You'd have to get at lest 50% right to have your vote count.

Never gonna happen, but hey.

A cookie with a 7,984-year lifespan. Blimey, Roy Batty only got 4!


No difference between say a month and 9999 years in most cases

If you accept cookies that expire after a week or so, these can be refreshed when you hit the same domain within that time-frame (could just be an advertising banner). Or are you worried about a site tracking you twice a decade or something? If on the other hand a developer needs to make something like a "Remember Me" option that stores your username locally for the user's convenience, and is told it should never expire because the users are annoyed when it keeps going away.... A 9999 year cookie, sure, why not. Do they seriously expect it to last 9999 years? No. But it's a lot easier than constructing the time machine and pinpointing exactly when the user next clears his cookies / changes PC.

Actually that date may cause instant expiry on some Unix based machines, due to int overflow problems I believe. So on a practical level a more reasonable approach is probably about 10 years in the future and keep updating the cookie when the user next hits the site.

Don't want cookies? Use a app to sort that for you but don't be surprised when convenience goes down.

Car? Check. Driver? Nope. OK, let's go, says British govt


Re: Would you actually, really get in one?

As a software engineer .... No, hell no. Not until they've been running successfully for a good long time. And then I don't want to be the first in line for any firmware updates thank you very much. Even then I can't see how they're going to be able to cope with all the craziness that can happen on real British roads rather than simple "Freeway" scenarios. I guess at least initially they'll go for the low hanging fruit. Pickup at airport deliver to home in uncomplicated area, that kind of thing. Basically all the plum Taxi work.

I think I heard they chose the ideal Milton Keynes environment to be one of the test areas. Sensible as a starting point I guess.

DARPA-backed jetpack prototype built to make soldiers run faster


Human flea instead?

Agree with the other posters, seems like a very minor advantage for the inconvenience, logistics, and noise/ thermals. However, how about a version that could boost a sniper up onto the top of a building / soldier over an obstacle? Not talking sustained flight, just short distance. Probably good to have quick release to then dump it and move on.

Price-comparison site: OCZ reviews 'questionable'


I had my first drive brick after 6 months, the second Vertex II is going fine after about a year. The OCZ memory on the other hand went unstable after about a year (took me a while to track the problem down, blamed the new disk for a while) , RMA'd it ...... silence they just took the memory and never sent anything back. I'd bought some cheapo RAM in the meantime, so I've not bothered chasing it. I'd had enough. Just wont buy their stuff anymore.

Enormous orbiting solar raygun power plants touted


Double the power....you're kidding me?

From the linked article:

"Jeff Peacock, who heads satellite-builder Boeing Co's (BA.N) ground-based solar cell product line, said in theory it could double the amount of solar power collected, compared with the Earth-bound technology equivalent."

Yes folks we could double the solar collected...for only a thousand times the cost, and a crap load of inconvenience and danger*! Bargain!

This is sounding more and more like a thinly veiled space weapon - but I'd expect them to do a much better camouflage job than this....or maybe that's what we'd be expecting...errr.....where's my tinfoil hat?

*(Yes I have no idea how much a 2km solar array would cost on earth but it's got to be a hell of a lot cheaper than constructing and maintaining a 1km one in orbit and then beaming the power safely back to ground stations on earth. There has to be more to this... it sounds insane.)


"space junk permitting" - Small caveat really when you're providing a 1km wide target.... depends on the orbit and angle I guess.

I'm sure the military will be thrilled to get their new super-weapon built for them - sorry, I mean perfectly safe microwave beaming system. Yup no dangers to worry about at all, no sir, not here.

[ION Cannon charged]

Now where were those pesky NOD terrorists.

Reg hacks confront really wide Oz load terror


Pah! Call that an Oversize load...

Although technically they had to construct it's own road first....



Punters 'pooh-pooh video on demand'



In the dim and distant past, I can just about remember what it was like to have scheduled TV, and to have to remember when and what channel a program would be on. I would then arrange my life around the broadcasters whims regarding TopGear, Red-Dwarf, Buffy, etc (it was a long time ago okay).

Do people actually watch live TV? I gave my parents a TIVO shortly after getting one myself about 10 years ago - took them about a week to become totally hooked and dependant on it.

I suppose if your experience of a PVR is the pitiful junk that is Sky+, then I can see the apathy. TIVO or more recently TopField (with the MyStuff tap installed obviously - otherwise it's useless) are superb.

Quite simply, I wouldn't be able to watch anything other than the BBC if I didn't have a PVR - the mind numbing repetition of commercials would do me in. With the Topfield , a couple of clicks of the 5min/3min/30 second skip buttons gets me through the commercials in about 2 seconds - correct the overshoot with the 10 second back button, and done.


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