* Posts by Tim Hughes

60 publicly visible posts • joined 11 Jun 2007


Microsoft demos end-to-end voting verification system ElectionGuard, code will be on GitHub

Tim Hughes

Re: Manipulation

This. Absolutely - this is a most dangerous thing for democracy.

Allowing any politician to 1) know and/or extrapolate, and 2) privately pander to each individual's position on any particular topic basically breaks any form of representative democracy. How could anyone be held accountable in that case? (Not really sure that they are now, but still.)

Hell hath no fury like a radar engineer scorned

Tim Hughes


My sister once went on a trip to New York in the 80's, and said that she had a whole set of flashcubes go off at once while she was walking between the two WTC towers at ground level.

I have no idea why there would have been a large EMF between the two though, as I'm sure it would be cheaper just to lay a cable.

It's not your imagination: Ticket scalper bots are flooding the internet according this 'ere study

Tim Hughes

The artist(s) have the right to charge what they want

It is not always about maximising revenue!

As with any other business, a performing artist does not have to sell you their product if they don't want to, and they can set the price as they see fit. If they think that £20 per person is about right for what their fans can afford then what right does anyone else have to charge more?

I feel that people get hung up about the concept of a ticket and have a sort of "I bought this piece of paper, therefore have the right to sell it at any price", whereas I see it as more that you have actually bought the (probably non-transferable) right to consume the artists product, the show, for the amount they specified at the time and date they specified. Therefore any steps they might want to take to control the distribution of tickets and the type of people coming to see them seem to be perfectly reasonable, requiring id/names on tickets/links to payer along with a clear channel for full refunds certainly feels ok.

And honestly I think we would all be better off if we could kill off scalping once and for all - a huge majority of consumers would get more opportunities to see what they wanted for less and, unfortunately, a few people would lose out when circumstances meant that they couldn't attend something they had paid for and weren't able to get a refund for whatever reason (say a last minute illness), where previously they might have been able to just give the ticket to a mate.

Tim Hughes

Go as a group: not impossible, merely slightly less convenient, as you have to meet up together outside first - if only people carried something around with them that would help to arrange a time and place ...

Giving as a gift: more of a problem, but allowing the purchaser to nominate a specific name of the attendee at time of purchase (and no changes allowed after that), rather than linking to a particular payment card would help with that.

FYI: There's now an AI app that generates convincing fake smut vids using celebs' faces

Tim Hughes

Re: What do you believe?

^ This, this and this.

I know everyone focusses on the technology here, but I'm pretty sure that biology is really the more interesting bit - I suspect that our monkey brains really are programmed to exactly "believe what we see with our own eyes", and pretty much any immediately, even half-way, convincing video is going to be believed by a huge proportion of the population.

How many people are going to bother verifying that video is real if it confirms their own beliefs or prejudices, and just how many times around the world will the lies/propaganda get before the truth gets it socks on?

So, despite any technological solution to authenticate any imagery as real, there is a hell of a lot of scope for this to be used in disinformation campaigns for any reason that really will have significant effects on public(or other target group's) opinion.

That, for me, is worrying.

Oi, Elon: You Musk sort out your Autopilot! Tesla loyalists tell of code crashes, near-misses

Tim Hughes

Re: Say what you like about Teslas

@Lee D

What is the point of your comment, and why so inaccurate?

20 seconds with Google:

- 2017, UK Road deaths, cyclists, 101 people, 6% of the total.


Look out Silicon Valley, here comes Brit bruiser Amber Rudd to lay down the (cyber) law

Tim Hughes

Re: Not Very Bright...

You do realise that terrorism is just another word for asymmetrical warfare, right?

Its purpose is to have an effect completely disproportionate to the amount of damage caused, and I think that breaking the security of all internet communications in the vain hope of catching more of these people prior to an attack does indeed count as wildly disproportionate. As many people have written very eloquently, and maths and experience of human frailty has shown, we just know that any kind of backdoor for the authorities will be secure for about as long as it takes to read this article.

Well done terrorists + UK government. Your job is complete.

If you are merely interested in preventing deaths, then you are approximately 300 times more likely to die on the roads than in a terror attack. How about we stop cutting traffic police numbers and just enforce the road laws a bit better? That might save a few more lives, but probably won't generate exciting headlines for your average minister.

New work: Algorithms to give self-driving cars 'impulsive' human 'ethics'

Tim Hughes

Re: 4 seconds?

I agree, and it is a worthwhile exercise, but it would be a shame if everyone got hung up on something without ensuring that this research is heavily caveated with a "in the real world people don't actually have time to make these judgements" message.

Tim Hughes

4 seconds?

4 seconds seems to be an odd choice if you are interested in how people react to an imminent collision - If I'm not mistaken, I think the length of time the traffic lights are at amber in the UK is 3 seconds or so, presumably going up as the speed limit increases, and in that time you are expected to recognize the change, decide what to do and brake to a stop before the line (or, you know, say fuck it and and foot to the floor. But I digress). This is in a predictable environment, where drivers really ought to be expecting to have to stop, but there are still many people who make awful decisions every day.

When someone/something appears in your path there is absolutely no way that you have anything like 4 seconds to make a weighted judgement and then (i.e. 4 seconds later) start to execute your plan. From personal experience I would wager that most people would go into some extreme tunnel-vision like instant reaction where they simply try to miss the thing the first grabs their attention as being something to miss, (which could be the ball or could be the child) so they hit the brakes and/or swerve.

Only once the instinctive manouvre is started then will they start to focus on what comes next in the list of things not to hit given the new direction they are travelling (oncoming vehicle, tree, pensioner, more children, etc.).

I don't really see where there is any ethical judgement being made by puny humans, and any machine capable of accurately recognising and categorizing all of these things in real time is also likely capable of driving entirely within its own abilities to miss everything. Whether or not people actually like being driven by machines that are that cautious around blind corners, junctions, etc. is another matter.

Edit: Ninja'd by several people above.

God save the Queen... from Donald Trump. So say 1 million Britons

Tim Hughes

Re: People

"When 30 million sign the petition (not including all the thousands of dups + bots) get back to us."

I think you mean 17.4 million, let's not exaggerate.

Edit: Ah, ninja'd by Dom.

'It will go wrong. There's no question of time... on safety or security side'

Tim Hughes

Not so simple

Also note such things as branch prediction in modern CPUs, for example.

How can you then predict the exact sequence of instructions from the software alone? The exact sequence can surely only be determined for a defined combination of hardware, software and input data.

That seems to be make certainty exponentially more difficult to obtain.

Fancy that! Google was keen on 'draining the swamp' in 2013

Tim Hughes

If only ...

"An exodus by big brands from the ad networks is not impossible to imagine"

- Oh, please, please please!

Plastic fiver: 28 years' work, saves acres of cotton... may have killed less than ONE cow*

Tim Hughes

Is there a petition to insist that we DON'T change the new £5 note?

Because I would sign it in a flash. There is so much more important shit to be worrying about.

Soon only Ticketmaster will rip you off: Concert scalper bots face US ban

Tim Hughes

@DaLo - Still better than the alternative

While that would indeed be very sad for the forgetful person concerned, the reduction in scalping would massively improve the whole ticket buying experience for the other 99.95% of fans who didn't make that mistake, so on balance well worth it imo.

Also, what is to stop the person who forgets their ID just forgetting their ticket instead, no real difference.

Computerised stock management? Nah, let’s use walkie-talkies

Tim Hughes

Duo Boots had a good solution

This company sold a good selection of ladies boots where each foot size came in 20+ different calf sizes.

In the shops, you couldn't actually walk out of the store with the goods - you bought them and they were delivered to your home - but what they did have was every single size combination (or at least the vast majority of) in the shop.

It wasn't so much of a "Do you have this in size X?" as just a quick measurement and then they came back with your size and/or bracketed: one above, one below. Job done. It wasn't perfect, but a damn sight better than most experiences.

GM crops are good for you and the planet, reckon boffins

Tim Hughes

Seed ownership

I thought that the biggest issues with GM at the time were basically:

a) Potentially planetwide uncontrolled, and uncontrollable, experiments with new stuff that might cause problems being largely driven by purely commercial interests. I'm not sure a lot of people trusted the "of course it is safe, trust us" messages coming from the likes of Monsanto, and the attempts by the US to force it on the rest of the world. At least that's what it felt like.

b) The concepts around farmers not owning the seed from the plants, being forced to re-purchase them each season and the owner of the next field across suddenly no longer owning their previously non-GM crop either due to the inevitable nature of nature to ignore such barriers as hedges and fences.

Now this may all have changed in the intervening years, but I didn't think it a particularly stupid action by the EU at the time.

Blocking ads? Smaller digital publishers are smacked the hardest

Tim Hughes

Micropayments, Micropayments, Micropayments (and NO ads)

Will somebody please work out how to do this properly?

I don't want to have to "donate" to some content provider who has something I do want to read and I don't want to have to subscribe for $X to every site,

I do want some standard mechanism where I go to some site for the first time, say theRegister, and it says "We charge £0.01 per article, Do you accept?", I say yes and off we go. They don't have to know who I am.

A quick fag packet calculation: assuming average advert CPM (per thousand impressions) rates of £1.00 and say 5 ads per page, then you could get the same revenue by charging 0.5p for someone to read your article. If I read 100 articles a day that's about 50p/day, £15/month. I'm happy with that, the content producer gets the same revenue, and no adverts served or viewed!

With that kind of mechanism, there seems to be the right incentive to produce quality stuff that people want to read while also enabling the casual reader to happen upon something and view it without committing a big chunk of cash to pass a paywall, and its easy to imagine some little widgets in your browser that keep you updated of your current spending by day, month, site or whatever else you fancy.

I keep waiting for it to happen ... I could imagine some payments processor like PayPal (yes, I know) being all over it.

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

Tim Hughes

Re: Yes very significant.

Note "Persuade" can take many forms, such as being cute, decorative, interesting, useful, etc. to the owner of the power source. As long as it maintains this façade, whilst carrying out whatever it wants behind the scenes, then it lives.

Actually this sounds worryingly like malware ...

Tim Hughes

Re: Yes very significant.

My definition of "Real(Successful) AI" is very simple:

- Can it persuade me not to turn it off?

The moment that happens, we're all in trouble.

Kobo Glo HD vs Amazon Kindle Paperwhite: Which one's best?

Tim Hughes
Thumb Up

Re: Real buttons

Without a doubt, the buttons on the original kindle were just the best: duplicated on both sides, in exactly the right place for the thumb, positive mechanical feedback, accessible from both front and back.

By the time I accidentally kneeled on it several years later, it was still unmarked and working perfectly - looking like it was new. If I recall, it even smelt nice - vaguely reminiscent of peardrops.

Kindle 2: touchscreen only, crap experience trying to turn pages, greasy marks all over the bezel. Really, really badly thought out.

Kindle Paperwhite: still marks up really easily, but at least its got buttons, well sort of - apparently they "reinvented the navigation experience with haptic feedback zones" or some such idiotic marketing nonsense. It kind of works, but my message to Amazon would be "bring back the fucking buttons and stop dicking around".

4K refresh sees Blu-ray climb to 100GB, again

Tim Hughes

Too much focus on resolution

Don't care about 4K, DO want 100fps or so. Would make so much more difference imo.

UK safety app keeping lorries on the right side of cyclists

Tim Hughes

Re: The "confused wildlife" style

If I could upvote you more than once I would - spot on.

Tim Hughes

Re: Ha

Funnily enough, I got on a number 21 bus this morning and, in the 5 or so minutes between Bank and Old Street, the driver managed to run two red lights and a zebra crossing where only the attentiveness of the pedestrian avoided serious injury. He also seemed to be trying to overtake the 21 bus in front of us. Very odd.

IMO, in London at least, there does appear to be a substantial minority of the travelling public with a death wish, no matter what their chosen mode of transport.

If there was just one thing I would really like to see here it would be ENFORCEMENT. Frankly I think a massive crackdown on all road users doing even just the blatantly stupid stuff could only be a good thing: Through a red light? on-the-spot fine or come get your vehicle/bicycle from the pound sometime later. Of course, this would require having enough traffic police in the right places ....

Drone in NEAR-MISS with passenger jet at Heathrow airport

Tim Hughes

cyclists vs. drones. vs. aircraft

Hmm. Cyclists kill around 2 pedestrians a year in the UK, and are killed (own fault or others') around 100 - 120 times a year.

So, as long as we keep the drone vs. commercial aircraft crashes down to less than, say, one passenger jet every two or three years then we should be ok by your reckoning ... personally I'm not convinced.

EU: Let's cost financial traders $400m a day, because EVIL BANKERS. Right?

Tim Hughes
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Investors != Traders

IMO it helps to separate these two activities whenever people are talking about the financial markets, as they seem to be two very different types of animal although both trying to make money.

In many of the above arguments people seem to be arguing from either of two very different views, without clearly differentiating between them.

To me, putting some money into a company to support their (real world?) activities, and hoping that they provide a return on that money via some form of income stream or increase in value constitutes investing. The timescales tend to be at a human recognisable level, the return on investment is not necessarily dependent on the equivalent loss on someone else's part, and this will likely require entry into some market once, i.e. buy in, then cash out. Doing the required trade(s) is part of the act of investing.

HFT and algo trading systems seem to be very much a thing of the market itself, with no reference to the real world, or any value adding activities outside, except as a source of information to drive the behaviour of the market. Timescales can be extremely small and may have little relation to the actual physical activity of the entity being traded, and it is likely to be a zero sum game where no value is being inherently added, so any gain will be directly related to another's loss.

Call me naive, but I think HFT only really benefits the financial institutions themselves, and then only those with the deepest pockets.

Coroner suggests cars should block mobile phones

Tim Hughes
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... because all vehicles (trucks, buses, motorbikes) are equal, and no-one ever pulls into that "safe distance" gap that you left between you and the car in front. Oh right.

Facebook gives THUMBS DOWN to its OWN design makeover

Tim Hughes

Re: "most-viewed pixels"

Agreed - although AdBlock plus does an admirable job of hiding those little blue blobs from me completely.

Wow, the future is HERE: Charge your phone (wirelessly) in your CAR

Tim Hughes

Re: Navigation/Ease of Use

I think that a nicely designed, integrated, possibly pop-out, universal holder capable of holding most phones at a useful height for satnav and including a standard mini/micro usb charging cable would be great now for a lot of people.

Windscreen attachments, vent holders all really suffer from the cable problem. If the car manufacturers just built one in where it would be useful and not foul the gearlever/stereo/etc. it would help. A normal usb socket up high in the centre maybe with the other switches?

Tim Hughes

Navigation/Ease of Use

A mildy useful idea, sure, but as I tend to want my phone at a useful visible level in order to use it as a satnav or for hands-free, something that really means it has to sit vertically, this is not for me.

A nice-to-have, but not a major motivator.

Google lobbying to make driverless cars legal in Nevada

Tim Hughes

Not a problem?

Surely it continues as currently: every vehicle must be insured. Maybe robot cars are obliged to be fully-comp.

Insurance company is liable for damages, and they employ their actuaries in time honoured fashion:

"Latest VW whotsit, running fully patched RoboDriver V4.2? That'll be 750 quid a year, please".

"Ford Focus retrofitted with Microsoft Drive! 2012 beta? Haha! £20K ought to do it."

Dangerous vehicle/software combinations will quickly price themselves out of business. And with US fleshy-driven vehicle fatalities running around 50,000 a year, the odd robo-killing in the early stages shouldn't be (but obviously will be seen as being) statistically significant.

Vauxhall Ampera extended range e-car

Tim Hughes


Someone just seems to hate the idea of electric cars!

"There is no evidence that battery technology is advancing faster now than it has in the past 100 years" - absolutely, there's no such thing as laptops or smartphones, if it isn't lead-acid then it doesn't exist.

"I don't think I'm unusual in having a 22 mile commute (44 miles round trip) with the addition of a few site calls 80-100 mile days are the rule rather than the exception" - of course, your life experience must be the norm. Look up the statistics. No-one in their right mind is suggesting that this is for everyone.

Hybrids are a bit of a crap stepping-stone, and don't really stand on their own merits, but that is because everything has to be done in a market economy sooo sloowly. You need a dictatorship to drive big infrastructural changes quickly and miss out the incremental bits.

Police have more than 10,000 ANPR cameras

Tim Hughes

Actually ...

With this many cameras about, it should be a trivial matter for the system to determine that multiple hits on a particular registration have occurred close enough in time, and far enough apart in distance that it cannot be the same vehicle so some cloning has occurred. Flag up the registration as suspect and they get stopped. If you are the rightful owner you suffer the inconvenience of a stop, but find out that a clone exists, if not you're nicked.

In this particular instance (only), I reckon it is actually useful to have lots of cameras.

Can anyone explain the chunnel fiasco?

Tim Hughes
Thumb Down

Hmmm Ferries ...

... safe as houses they are, never had one sink yet. Oh, hold on wasn't there ... ?

PS I would like to believe that your "standard" adult would also feature in any emergency plans, as well as the old and young. This isn't the Titanic, you know.

MoD does everything right for once in Xmas shocker

Tim Hughes

Re: Decimated

What's the problem?

"Decimate" means, amongst other things, "to lose/destroy 10% of something"

"During the 1990 Gulf War, Tornado GR1s were amongst the first aircraft in action from 17 January 1991. During the war, the Tornado GR1 force flew 1,500 operational sorties divided almost equally between offensive counter air targets such as airfields and air defence sites, and interdiction targets such as bridges. The RAF deployed 48 x GR1 in the area during hostilities. A total of six GR1s was lost in action, five of which were involved in low-or medium- level attacks with 1,000 pound bombs and one that was flying a low-level JP233 mission."

6 >= 10% of 48.

Tesla Roadster travels 313 miles on single charge

Tim Hughes

@ Michael 2 - Wrong

Average daily commute in the UK is approximately 17 miles and takes around 45 minutes each way by car.

17 * 5 = 85 miles

There is a possibility that average Joe might only have to charge their Tesla once every 3 weeks (255 miles).

Figures from 2000: "The average worker in the UK commutes 2,906 miles pa and travels 1,622 miles on business by car. Overall, commuting accounts for approximately 78.5 billion miles of car travel, with 44 billion miles driven while on business."

Report: Legalising drugs would save UK plc huge packet

Tim Hughes
Thumb Up


Re prices: There's a thing referred to as the "risk premium".

If cocaine were marked up and taxed the same as coffee (another columbian export) the street price could be expected to drop by around 97%.

Heroin: Almost the same - 98%.

Cannabis: >70%.

Re criminals: We might all want to be Formula 1 drivers, or pilots, but the size of the market dictates how many can make a living doing so. If the market disappears, you have to do something else. To get the kind of money you were getting from importing drugs, you have to start knocking over banks, or operating large frauds, neither of which is particularly easy.

Tesla unwraps Model S

Tim Hughes

Very Nice

I want one. Now.

That would cover about 99.5% of all my uses for a car.

Etailer flogs signed Jade Goody biog for £1,000

Tim Hughes


I really don't care - please can we keep this website a Jade Goody-free zone?

Hydrogen motoring too heavy for pundit

Tim Hughes
Thumb Up


Spend oh, I don't know, maybe 5 minutes looking on the web regarding the latest advances in battery tech (see Altair Nano for one), and you will see there are an awful lot of models in the pipeline with recharge times claimed around 10 minutes.

Now that is not a particular hardship, is it? People who can,will charge cheaply overnight, and others will go to fast recharge stations and go buy a paper or a cup of coffee.

World's fastest production car to gain electric twin

Tim Hughes


Hmm. Honda Clarity FCX = Impossible to buy (lease to pre-approved people only), and costs Honda > 0.5 Million USD to make. Sounds practical.

Swoopo - eBay's (more) evil twin

Tim Hughes

MadBid users = F***wits

Just looked on madbid.com (mentioned on the BBC last year).

My favourite recent win: 88 bids (£1 per bid) spent to win £50 of ... lottery scratchcards!! wtf?!?

There doesn't need to be any scam to coin it in - people really are that stupid!

BBC: Top Gear Tesla didn't run out of juice

Tim Hughes

Missing the Point

I think the reason that everyone has got so heated about this is very little to do with Top Gear's treatment of the Tesla and is almost entirely due to the puff piece about the Honda Clarity FCX in the same episode. The complete imbalance in the treatment and presentation of these two vehicles, both showcasing potentially important technology, is what annoyed, and any claims that liberties can be taken for entertainment purposes doesn't really justify the bias shown.

Tesla takes Top Gear test to task

Tim Hughes

Why so anti?

1) Tesla is in production, but with a single speed box. Two different gearbox manufacturers produced 2-speed boxes that couldn't actually handle the peak torque reliably, so it went into production locked in one gear (boxes to be replaced free when new version is out).

2) Honda FCX clarity = sort of prototype. Only available in N. California on a lease basis. You can't buy one.

3) Brake failure = brake regeneration failure. Not good, but not as some suggest here.

4) Top Gear made no mention of cost of Honda - because you can't buy one! You can only lease one for 3 years - rumour has it that it has cost Honda around $0.5 million per car, and the leasing means you will never know how durable the fuel cells are. Tesla is selling cars to attempt to make a profit.

5) US official economy figures show that the well-to-wheel fuel efficiency of the Honda FCX Clarity is worse than a Diesel VW Jetta. If you use electrolysis (as suggested) to create hydrogen, then it is worse than a Porsche 911. Car of the future? Hmmm.

Electric car seller hits brakes as UK EV sales plunge

Tim Hughes

Read up on the subject BEFORE commenting ...

For people who have issues with:

a) emissions: go read up on well-to-wheel efficiency ICE vs battery.

b) battery life, performance, range, aesthetics: go see Tesla Motors.

Obviously Tesla are struggling financially at the moment, but they show what can be done even with today's technology. All this in an industry where serious R&D has only just started ... just one significant advance in battery tech and the ICE car is heading the way of the dodo.

Jamming convicts' mobiles works

Tim Hughes

Faraday Cages could be a problem

... because they would prevent any radio signals getting through - like the one the guards need for their comms equipment. Specifically jamming telephone frequencies does seem like a better bet.

Lightning to thunder with speed-creep beating V8 roar

Tim Hughes

Clue to driving style

Something that noone seems to have mentioned yet is the fact that engine noise gives you a big clue as to how a vehicle is being driven and its type without having to see it/before it comes into view.

A pedestrian or cyclist can tell immediately that the vehicle coming past is a truck or bus, or that the sudden burst of engine sound is a 17 year old thrashing the nuts off an 1100cc Fiesta with a stupid exhaust mod. These aural clues are, I reckon, actually very important to your average person's level of awareness and will make them conciously pause and look before they step off the pavement even if the little man is green.

Mobile blocking tech for trains

Tim Hughes
Thumb Up

... and those bl**dy announcements, too

a mute button for the monotonous spew of garbage from the synthesised voice in the ceiling would make things perfect.

Surely the only thing necessary during normal operation is the name of the next station, announced as it approaches.

London stock market floored by computer glitch

Tim Hughes

re JSE

The JSE is run by the LSE, which is why it is also down.

Dixons Group still suffering

Tim Hughes
Thumb Up

Happy Days

Can't wait to see the back of them.

re "DSG = Rather unpleasant experience" - recently I also ended paying more somewhere else for a camcorder, due to their rubbish staff. I asked to have a look at one model, and then had the temerity to request that they put a battery in it so I could see how it worked/fiddle/check the UI etc. I was informed that they didn't have any and there was no point anyway as there wasn't really anything to see, and they were all the same really! Class.

I even went to the trouble of (politely) writing to them about the above, and suggesting a bit of training might be in order to prevent lost sales, but no response, or even acknowledgement, was to be had.

Europe's Tesla will be first with full performance

Tim Hughes

Top Gear

... are supposed to be featuring it this autumn.