* Posts by Chazmon

105 publicly visible posts • joined 15 Apr 2011


Bulb smart meters in England wake up from comas miraculously speaking fluent Welsh


Ydych chi wedi ceisio ei ddiffodd unwaith eto?

The cybercriminal's cash cow and the marketer's machine: Inside the mad sad bad web ad world


Targetted ads are rubbish

You know what I like about El Reg's ads? They actually match the website rather than the cookies from a website I visited earlier in the week.

Particularly with my work computer I don't really buy anything I will however do a certain amount of product research. Even this is an infrequent occurrence so I may have to suffer through the same adds for sticky labels or dust masks for weeks.

Relive your misspent, 8-bit youth on the BBC's reopened Micro archive


8-bit education

One of the underlying problems with the way we teach coding etc. is we don't actually need lots of mediocre programmers. What we actually need is a small number of excellent ones.

Achieving this in a large scale education system is very difficult for any subject. The counterpoint to this is we do need a large chunk of the population to be able to ask the right questions and understand the underlying logic.

I'm the latter never programmed past 'IF' functions in Excel but speak the language sufficiently well to get the most out of those who can.

I say, I say, I say: What's the difference between a king penguin and liquid?


I love how often fluid dynamics can be applied with minimal fudging.

My favourite example is the way Zerglings move in StarCraft 2. Thanks to the dither,* small size and huge numbers they look distinctively liquid like when moving en mass. Ok so not a real example but fun all the same.

*I think its called this but am happy to be corrected.

Zucker for history: What I learnt about Facebook 600 years ago


'Take a ride in his Mercedes'

You owe me a new keyboard

Having read the work recently this phrase goes some distance towards explaining the hundreds of pages of elaborate revenge which this lead to. For a more recent and easier to read work which uses this hacking principle (and others) check out Pratchett's 'Going Postal'.

Aching bad: 'Kingpin Granny' nicked in huge prescription drugs bust


Evading arrest? In a wheelchair? That must have been one to watch!

New strife for Strava: Location privacy feature can be made transparent


This feels a bit like the old urban legend (or possibly true) about thieves stealing cars, hitting home on the GPS and robbing the house.

Although I am sceptical that this ever actually happened home on my GPS puts you a few streets away as I don't need it for the last bit anyway.

I am equally sceptical about this application as the alternatives are far simpler. Just watch to see which house your lycra clad target lugs their expensive bike into and rob that one.

Dinosaurs gathered at NASA Goddard site for fatal feeding frenzy


It just goes to show there never was a time you could lay fresh concrete without something furry walking across it....

RIP Ursula K Le Guin: The wizard of Earthsea


Another one of my favourite authors is no longer of this world (the way things are going it is only going to be Neil Gaiman left!) The Dispossed is consistently in my top 5 as a book which changes the way you look at the world. Left Hand of Darkness blew my mind and thanks to it short length often one of the first books I hand to a novice reader. A loss to the world.

Scientists think they've found primordial goop whence life first sprang


Sounds like we have cracked one of the essential components for planet seeding. Good work

Cisco's John Chambers: Robot farmers will feed bloated cricket thoraxes to our children


I have been intrigued by this idea for some time. If it is burger shaped, tasty and nutritious I really don't care about the source whether it be cow, insect or petri dish. I draw the line at human, that is not cool.

Dyson to build electric car that doesn't suck


Dyson have been quietly hiring battery people since at least 2014. A couple of good battery chemists I know went to work for them on a secret project. I think this may be more than just good mechanical engineering but potentially (sorry for the pun) new style batteries as well.

Compsci degrees aren't returning on investment for coders – research


The Grad job market sucks

It really does but £3,000 is a big difference in your twenties. I have been jumping between £20k and £25k jobs for the last few years and the difference is huge. On the higher amount I feel comfortably well off, on the lower I worry about the credit card.

It goes a long way when it comes to the 'computer says no' stage of mortgage calculation.

Sci-Fi titan Jerry Pournelle passes,
aged 84



Damn another of my favourites gone. Lucifer's Hammer got me into hard sci fi.

Oath of Fealty is also certainly in my top 5.

Not many of that generation left sadly.

Boffin rediscovers 1960s attempt to write fiction with computers


My current toilet reading is a compilation of Grimms' fairy tales and I have to say they are utterly rubbish. There is a modicum of narrative arc in some of them but it is often a series of random events which happen to the same person (usually royalty).

The Lion story would certainly be in the top half!

Atari shoots sueball at KitKat maker over use of 'Breakout' in ad


Personally I think this case will bounce off doing minimal damage in the first instance but will return even faster.

'Coke dealer' called us after his stash was stolen – cops


But did they investigate the theft?

Just because the substance is illegal does not change the fact that goods were taken with the intention of permanently depriving the original owner of them.

Jodie Who-ttaker? The Doctor is in


Not my opinion!

The finest piece of trolling I have ever seen was performed when the speculation around the 12th doctor was at its height.

Posting in a pro feminist group an acquaintance wrote: 'A female Doctor Who is wrong after all it is 'Doctor Who' not 'Nurse Who.''

The storm of vitriol which followed was a sight to behold.

Nerd Klaxon: Barbican to host Science Fiction exhibition this summer


The first?

Surely if you are looking for the origin of Sci fi it has to be Cyrano de Bergerac's voyage to the moon (and later sun). Some amazing science for the time it was written (1662!) and even some conceptual stuff like beings who communicate through music. Not an easy read though.

In any case, this may actually drag me into London.

Lochs, rifle stocks and two EPIC sea gates: Thomas Telford's Highland waterway


Do they lock the locks between the lochs overnight?

Interesting article which slightly hurt my brain!

Twitter app pwned by pro-Turkey hackers: Users' accounts sling 'Nazi' slurs



I spotted one of these this morning and alerted the account holder.

Am I the only one surprised to see a unicode swastika symbol? I know it is a Hindu symbol cruelly appropriated but I would have thought it would not be supported by the various risk averse organise these sort of standards. I am not sure where I stand on its inclusion just genuinely surprised.

The evil connotations of the symbol are a pain especially when trying to teach rotational symmetry!

Northumbria Uni fined £400K after boffin's bad math gives students a near-killer caffeine high



The quantity of caffeine largely seems to have arisen from an unchecked switch from commercial tablets (probably pro plus) which have other things in them to pure powder possibly from a chemical supplier. The catalogue of errors begins with those devising the experiment not being competent and understanding what they are purchasing right through to whoever authorised the ethics for this experiment in the first place. The phone as a calculator is less of a problem in itself than an indicator of the complete lack of thought which went into this.

My students actually do this experiment as part of applied science btec! The risk assessment however says only commercial products to be used and put a limit on it.

UK National Lottery data breach: Fingers crossed – it might not be you


I wonder if we could crowd source a list of large companies which have not suffered some kind of breach or hack to date.

Not for reasons of consumer advice more so we can run a sweepstake of who will fall over next!

Loyalty card? Really? Why data-slurping store cards need a reboot


Amazon is way over the line into creepy but their recommendations are not what keeps me loyal. What keeps me loyal is the ease of use of the site and a feeling (not necessarily backed up by facts) that they are more secure than the smaller sites.

That said I have done extremely well out of Nectar points especially on double up events and cinema trips which I consider a fair exchange for knowing what I buy,

AI boffins turn to StarCraft to train future neural networks


What I really want to see with this kind of AI is it being developed and to a certain extent optimised on StarCraft 1 and then ported onto StarCraft 2. This is an easy transition for a human player but I imagine unbelievably difficult for a bot but it would be an amazing test of true machine learning and application.

'Doubly unacceptable' Swiss vegan forces his way into the army


'Dispute dealt with sensibly after affected parties actually sit down and talk to each other.'

Well who would have thought it...

Facebook's AI boss is on a mission to end spoon-fed machine intelligence


Spoon feeding will always be part of learning indeed how many people need to literally taught how to use a spoon? All of them, indeed humans still need to be taught things their entire lives.

Hopefully this will lead to better learning but I think we are still a long way off from true AI. I also hope this goes into something marginally more useful than identifying brands in pictures!

BOFH: The case of the suspicious red icon



I always imagined mission control being in the basement so a window high enough to have an accident seems unlikely?

Perhaps this is the result of long experience of BOFHs accumulating in basements and slowly poisoning everyone... or is that Radon?

Ransomware scum infect Comic Relief server: Internal systems taken down


Morality issues besides charities are probably only exceeded in terms of online monetary transactions to banks and retailers.

This may perhaps become a trend as lets face it if they had morals they wouldn't be scammers.

Password strength meters promote piss-poor paswords


Re: Passwords need to be rethought

The funny thing about that xkcd is that instead of encouraging better passwords it has simply lead to 'correcthorsebatterystaple' climbing up the most popular password lists!

Windows Phone users beg Pokémon Go creators for attention


It sucks to be on the platform with the smallest market share. I have a windows phone because they are cheap, reliable and work well with PCs. I honestly don't expect any apps to appear beyond the standard social media ones. If I wanted that I would have stayed with Android but I found I simply didn't use any.

UK.gov flings £30m at driverless car R'n'D, wants plebs to speek their branes


If your hands are on the wheel it isn't a driverless car. I don't want to be alert when driving I want to be reading a book. Essentially the train experience but actually arrive near my destination and without other people.

That said I am in that rare category of people who know they are not that good at driving and think a computer would probably do a better job!

Thai bloke battles jumbo python in toilet todger thriller


Re: Skilled

It does make you wonder where they release wild toilets these days...

Experian Audience Engine knows almost as much about you as Google


I get loads of credit card offers through the snail mail because of my credit report obtained when I got a mortgage. You just can't win.

My only consolation is stuffing the reply envelope with pizza menus and putting it back in the post.

US poised to unleash stadium-sized sandwich bag


I think this is all an elaborate cover up for an upcoming alien visit. They are getting their story in advance so that they can blame the resulting sightings on this 'balloon.' And they said I was mad...

FBI probed SciFi author Ray Bradbury for plot to glum-down America


To be honest I slightly see their point. I went on something of a dystopian binge at one point culminating in Stand on Zanzibar by Brunner and I was cross for months! My girlfriend at the time asked what was wrong and I muttered something about being angry about the future people.

In the end I had to find something more cheerful to read (I went for C.S. Lewis' sci fi).

PALE, MALE AND STALE: Apple reveals it has just ONE black exec


So let the usual debate begin.

Are they racist and misogynistic or simply hiring the best and resiting pointless tokenism?

To be honest only they know which and statistics don't really provide proof one way or another.

BOFH: Why, I LOVE work courses. Please tell me more, o wise one!


'where accurate artillery shelling and friendly fire are just descriptions of the same thing.'

You owe me a new keyboard and a certain amount of professional dignity... (well ok just the first one)

ROBOTS in sinister public-relations push ahead of coming WAR ON HUMANS


Gotta love the nested acronym. I'm sure el reg could have helped them with that...

SAVE THE PLANKTON: So much more than whale food


A couple of scientific distinctions:

Plankton is pretty much anything which cannot make headway against the current so this also includes jellyfish (and really weak swimmers)

Zoo plankton is the microscopic swimmy stuff (technical term)

Phytoplankton are the ones which photosynthesize and start the food chain (and shore up life on earth)

ATTENTION SETI scientists! It's TOO LATE: ALIENS will ATTACK in 2049


prophetic writings

Given the expected physical characteristics of life forms from those planets they would fit the type described in the Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham.

I live near a river so naturally I am concerned.

First look: Ordnance Survey lifts kimono on next-gen map app


Re: Spotted what's missing?

That bit largely is but by the looks of the bit around Brokenhurst it seems that is a feature. I am curious as how much is available offline as you can get fair battery life for a day's walk in airplane mode for most devices.

Mine is the one with a soon to be neglected map pocket



My mouse movements are very predictable. Generally to the top right of the screen whenever my boss comes in...

The Invisible Library – a playful, timey wimey, spook adventure tale



Conceptually sounds an awful lot like L space...

DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides


And we thought powerpoints couldn't get any more dangerous!


Behind the Facebook DRAG QUEEN CRACKDOWN: 'Anonymity soon!'


I can see a way this could work fairly easily from their perspective. You can have a pseudonym account so long as it is linked to a real one. The link would only be known to Facebook (and admen and law enforcement) so they still fulfill their legal and monetary obligations whilst allowing you to be anonymous to the rest of the users.

It doesn't help if you want to be anonymous from 'the man' or add brokers but then facebook probably isn't interested in your business. It would however work for those with stage names or those who simply do not want to be found by other members of the public.

Google swallows SMARTSPOON manufacturer Lift Labs


smart spoons

I like those smart spoons. Nothing grand just making people's lives a little bit better.

I hope they develop a beer holder next.

Gaming supremo creates maps that turn real world into Sim City


You could use this for all kinds of lovely things I'm thinking the good: Real time disaster relief coordination. The bad: Real time invasion coordination. The ugly: Real time celeb stalking (which is probably the most likely!)

A-level results: Before you smile at that jump-for-joy snap...


I have two degrees, went on a course recently and there were a couple of sparkies there pulling in three times what I earn. Having said that they probably work three times as hard...

If your smart and motivated you will succeed regardless and vice versa.

Fanfare of trumpets as LOHAN reveals mission patch


A more apropriate receptical?

I think the design is simple enough that it would work quite nicely engraved onto a pint glass...