* Posts by Cuddles

1968 posts • joined 3 Nov 2011

'Vast majority of people' are onside with a data grab they know next to nothing about, reckons UK health secretary

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Re: BBC News 24 talking to a medical researcher last night

The part that really bugs me about that argument is that it actually makes things worse. If this data is so critical to share with everyone and people will die every moment it's not available, why have they waited until now to share it? How many lives could have been saved if there just hadn't been a six week notice period? How many lives are the Conservatives responsible for taking since they came to power over a decade ago? If it really is so urgent to get this data right now, why on Earth are they being so casual about it?

Google, Facebook, Chaos Computer Club join forces to oppose German state spyware

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No problem

TikTok has quietly updated its terms and conditions to allow itself to collect biometric data on users, including “faceprints and voiceprints,”"

Fortunately no-one uses biometrics like face or voice to control access to their devices or private data, so there can be absolutely no problems as a result of this sort of data grab.

Chinese app binned by Beijing after asking what day it is on anniversary of Tiananmen Square massacre

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Re: They're weirdly touchy

Indeed, I think people really underestimate just how effective propaganda and brainwashing are, especially when sustained over a long period of time. Even in countries with a relatively free press and decent education systems, most people are entirely oblivious to huge amounts of important events and recent history. This is even more the case for events that happened before their own lifetimes or outside their own locale. And I've always been amazed that even with easy access to things like encyclopedias, libraries and of course now the internet, most people make no effort whatsoever to actually go and look things up if they do hear about something they don't know much about.

Throw in 30 years of blocking and oppression on top of that, and it's very easy to ensure that most people will have no idea about some events. It's not in history books or schools. No-one talks about it openly. No-one can look it up without much more effort than would normally be required for all the other things they don't bother looking up anyway.

It's easy to say "everyone knows", but it's dangerous to assume that everyone actually does know the same things you do. Most people don't actually know as much as you might think, especially when it comes to major events that it's easy to assume are common knowledge. The Chinese government, along with most other dicators, and plenty of supposedly more ethical governments for that matter, don't go to such great lengths to control information just for fun. They do it because it really does work.

Version 8 of open-source code editor Notepad++ brings Dark Mode and an ARM64 build, but bans Bing from web searches

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Re: Notepad++ is genius

"So it's not the prettiest editor."

Have to admit I'm a bit confused by this comment in the article. There's a small menu bar at the top, and then a blank page for writing text in. What exactly could be done to make this somehow look pretty? It's a text editor, not an art installation. Anything unnecessary added on top would just get in the way. But there are various optional features that can be used if you happen to want them. It looks exactly as pretty as I would expect a blank page for writing on should look.

Photographer seeks $12m in copyright damages over claims Capcom ripped off her snaps in Resident Evil 4 art

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Re: Some of those...

"The weird thing is the source material being from 1996."

Why is that weird? RE4 started development in 1999, so using a relatively recent database of textures seems fairly normal. This isn't a newly released game - not counting remakes the most recent is the 23rd game in the series (although as seems tradiational these days, the numbers are largely irrelevant - RE4 was the 12th game).

What's particularly interesting is that it appears they copied files directly from the CD without even changing file names. I'd say that makes it less likely they got the files through some convoluted route and might have thought they had a legitimate license. The filing also references another lawsuit where Capcom are being sued for copying designs in the most recent game. Doesn't look great for them really, although sadly I'd be surprised if any punishment is big enough for them to change their ways.

BMA and Royal College of GPs refuse to endorse NHS Digital's data grab from surgeries in England

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Literacy isn't the problem

"communications have been limited to NHS Digital's online platforms and by extension only those who are digitally literate"

I'd consider myself reasonably digitally literate, but that doesn't help if I have no reason to ever visit NHS Digital's online platforms. With only 6 weeks given in which to opt out, the vast majority of healthy people would never see any of these communications. Even my parents, with a fairly exciting array of drugs and regular checkups, can easily go longer than that without needing to see a doctor. It doesn't matter how good people are at handling a website if most of them will never actually see it.

Taiwan’s top chip tester, King Yuan, shuts down production and quarantines workers

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Re: Complacent

"They don't have access to vaccine. UK & US snarfed most of the capacity."

Like many people. you're massively overestimating how relevant the UK is to the rest of the world. Of over 2 billion vaccines doses so far administered, the UK has used under 70 million. Even the USA is only third in number of doses used, or fourth if you count the EU as a whole. There's certainly a good argument that rich countries should be doing more to help countries that can't afford vaccines, and not, for example, doing the exact opposite by taking this chance to cut foreign aid. But lets not pretend that a tiny country like the UK is somehow responsible for soaking up the entire world supply of vaccines. Also, Taiwan has a higher GDP per capita than us, so maybe they're not the ones that actually need our help anyway.

Google's diversity strat lead who said Jews have 'insatiable appetite for war' is no longer diversity strat lead

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Re: Dispassionately

See here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance

The problem with allowing all opinions to be posited and challenged respectfullly as equals is that some opinions are inherently disrespectful and unequal, and some people have absolutely no interest in finding a common ground. Given the topic, it's a good example to point out how well a policy of respect and appeasement worked on the actual Nazis. Kicking off a flame war the moment someone says anything you vaguely disagree with isn't helpful, but neither is blindly assuming that everyone must be interested in having constructive, rational discussion if only you're nice enough to them. Some people really are just dicks.

FYI: Today's computer chips are so advanced, they are more 'mercurial' than precise – and here's the proof

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Re: Complexity: Another nail in the coffin...

"If your critical business processes are on-prem, the chances are that you will not be stressing your CPU's to "mercurial" levels. But if your accounts data (for instance) is in the cloud, chances are CPU time in crunching it is being shared with other companies' CPU time."

I don't think it's anything to do with CPU time, but simply the number of CPUs. As the article notes, it's a few problematic cores per several thousand CPUs, ie. it's not random failures due to the large amount of use, it's some specific cores that have a problem. But since the problems are rare, only people operating many thousands of them are likely to actually encounter them. So it's a bit misleading to call them "stressors" of CPUs; it's not about how much stress any particular CPU encounters, but rather about companies that happen to use a lot of CPUs.

So it's hard to say if on-prem would be better or not. On the one hand, you're unlikely to have enough CPUs to actually have a problem. But if you get unlucky and you do, the problematic core will be a greater percentage of your computing, and you're unlikely to be able to actually spot it at all. On the other hand, being assigned different CPUs every time you run a task in the cloud makes it almost inevitable that you'll encounter a troublesome core at some point. But it's unlikely to be a persistent problem since you won't have the same core next time, and the companies operating at that scale are able to assign the resources to actually find the problem.

Today I shall explain how dual monitors work using the medium of interpretive dance

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Re: Examples...

"people who got confused between Memory and Hard drive space."

To be fair, thats because RAM and storage are both memory. Giving a detailed explanation of how a hard drive isn't memory is always going to result in confusion because it's just plain wrong. Your analogy works precisely because it makes it clear that they are different types of memory that handle data in different ways. Most people are capable of understanding the distinction if you just explain that you have short term and long term memory without even needing the analogy. It's only when you start calling one type of memory "memory" while pretending the other type isn't memory at all that it starts causing problems.

Wyoming powers ahead with Bill Gates-backed sodium-cooled nuclear generation plant

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Re: Go for it

"Maybe.Fusion is still X years away but progress is being made and what was bleeding edge tech a while back is slowly becoming routine."

The thing to remember about fusion, and any other technological progress for that matter, is that progress and predictions about progress are not the same thing. Yes, back in the '50s people were saying fusion was 30 years away, and they were obviously wrong. And people today are saying fusion is 30 years away, and they may well be wrong as well. But just because they're both wrong doesn't mean they're wrong by the same amount in the same way. Scientists haven't just been sitting on their arses not doing anything for the last 70 years, we've made a huge amount of progress in understanding how fusion can work and what the people back then were wrong about that made them overly optimisitic. Obviously we still haven't solved the whole problem and some people may still be overly optimistic, but they're now making different mistakes about different things.

When it comes down to it, predictions about scientific or technological progress in any field are not worth the electrons they're printed on. But that doesn't mean progress doesn't happen. And fusion is far from the worst offender in terms of failing to meet predictions (flight has a good argument there; people were dreaming about that for thousands of years before we figured it out). It may or may not be 30 years away, but at the very least we're 70-odd years closer than we were before.

China reveals plan to pump out positive news about itself. Let's see what happens when that lands with social media fact-checkers

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Re: A people & their government are different

It's almost as though people are generally just people, no matter where they happen to have been born.

UK Special Forces soldiers' personal data was floating around WhatsApp in a leaked Army spreadsheet

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What makes you think the Army have anything to do with Whatsapp? The article says the leaked document is being sent to other people using Whatsapp. That's equivalent to saying it's being shared using email - it has nothing to do with how it was originally accessed or how it was leaked. Indeed, it's rather odd to see El Reg using phrases like "available to download on Whatsapp", given that there is no such thing as being available to download on Whatsapp. If someone sends you a message with an attachment, you can view that attachment, just as you could if someone emailed it to you. You can't go wandering around Whatsapp looking for things to download.

The actual news here is that the army appear to have really shitty privacy procedures involving confidential documents being available to tens of thousands of people with essentially no security or access control, making leaks inevitable. The details of which messaging services have been used by various people to share a document after it has been leaked is of no interest whatsoever.

Xiaomi touts Hypercharge 200W charging tech, claims 4,000mAh battery goes from 0 to full in 480 seconds

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Re: Domestic supply issues

"Is anyone thinking about the peak power demands on a domestic property these days?"

No. Electric cars are new, but everything else you mention has been standard for a long time. Sure, gas heating and hot water are more common, but electric is really quite common as well. There are plenty of old houses* with an electric immersion heater for water and a few electric heaters instead of central heating. Electric ovens have also been standard for a long time. As have toasters, fridges, freezers, TVs, computers, and so on. And of course, not too long ago it was normal to have a few kW of lighting in most houses. A 200W phone charger wouldn't even be noticed.

Electric cars could be a problem, but as things stand the grid as a whole couldn't cope with every house having a car to charge, so that's something that needs to be solved at a much higher level than individual domestic electrics.

* And when I say old, the flat I used to live in was built in the 1980s with no gas, as was the entire estate it was part of.

Amazon warehouse workers are seriously injured more frequently than those at similar companies – unions

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Re: Just say no to the Bezos borg

I have no problem buying things from any number of shops that aren't Amazon. Most of it ends up being cheaper, usually has next-day delivery (not that most things actually need it), and almost always far better customer service. Plus usually much easier to actually find what you're looking for since it's not drowned out in a sea of counterfeit crap from fake sellers. And most shops have far better stock than Amazon, because they focus on having specific types of goods rather than just cramming in all the random shiny stuff they happen to trip over.

The trick is simply that you have to remember there is more than one shop in the world. It's not actually necessary to buy every single thing from the same place. If you're capable of handling the horrific inconvenience of having to use more than one website, shops dedicated to selling specific goods are almost always far better than the likes of Amazon.

Firefox 89: Can this redesign stem browser's decline?

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Re: Please, Firefox, just go away already!

"How many years has it been since JavaScript performance was well and truly good enough? Many. Sure there are probably incremental gains to be had, and better performance translates to longer battery life, which is always a good thing, but the limitations to web performance these days aren't JavaScript performance"

Indeed. A few years back when boasting about JS times was how browsers liked to do their penis measuring, I still never uinderstood why I was supposed to care that one might be 2ms faster than another. That's just not something anyone will ever notice while actually using a browser. Hell, you could be a full second slower and it would still hardly be noticeable - people don't click through links at high speed as though they're playing Starcraft, so a tiny pause just isn't a big deal. Of course, by far the best way to improve JS performance is NoScript, since the vast majority of it is completely pointless anyway.

As for battery life, saving fractions of a second in CPU time isn't going to make any difference compared to just turning the screen brightness down a notch or two, or just sticking with a 1080p screen because there's really no point in having anything more in a laptop or phone. If you've really done everything you possibly can do improve your battery life, you can maybe eke a few more seconds from it by picking the optimal browser, but by that point you're at the level of scraping the paint off your bike to lose weight.

Ganja believe it? Police make hash of suspected weed farm raid, pot Bitcoin mine instead

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Re: Is massive amount of excessive heat still a sign of cannabis cultivation?

Cannabis needs heat to grow, it's not just an unwanted byproduct of the lighting. A poorly insulated house or warehouse being kept at 30 degrees is always going to stand out.

As for arresting people for a different crime, I'm not sure why so many people seem to think this is a problem. If they'd found someone being stabbed in there, should they not be allowed to arrest anyone for attempted murder just because that's not why they were looking? Obviously fabricating an excuse to go in and then digging around for any reason you can find to arrest people would be a problem, but if you legitimately suspect there is a crime, and then it turns out there actually is one but you happened to be wrong about the exact details, why would that be a problem?

US cities and towns purchase AI surveillance kit linked to China's Uyghur abuse

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Re: Thermal cameras

That was my first thought, but reading the linked article makes it clear that it's actually talking about systems used for taking temperature measurements for Covid screening, not some nefarious surveillance thing. The actual news was that they blew half a million on non-functional cameras because they didn't bother buying the calibration devices to go with them so they could boast about getting them cheaper than other schools.

Why did automakers stall while the PC supply chain coped with a surge? Because Big Tech got priority access

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People replace phones every two years. People replace PCs every three years. Car manufacturers care about security.

You know, there's a good reason no-one takes anything Gartner says seriously. If Gartner says the Sun will rise tomorrow, you know it's time to invest in lighting.

Fortunate Son: Softbank chief took 50 per cent pay cut in 2020, but that's not the worst of his worries

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Re: How is He Getting Paid Anything?

The trick is in the word "conglomerate". The Vision Fund gets plenty of headlines here, but that's only a small part of Softbank. As per the article, this year Softbank made over $45 billion. Losses from Uber and WeWork combined were less than $10 billion in the previous year. That's how they keep getting money, and how venture capitalism works in general - as long as the successful gambles pay off, the failures aren't considered a problem. We might suggest that having multiple prominent failures due to obvious scams suggests a bit of an issue, but all investors see is that money goes up.

NASA to return to the Moon by 2024. One problem with that, says watchdog: All of it

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Pigs can land, it's being able to walk away afterwards that is the tricky bit. Anything is airdroppable once.

Uber drivers can now unionise after ride biz recognises GMB, one of the UK's largest trade unions

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"Someone is going to pay for it."

Uber has consistently lost billions every year because they're more interested in gaining market share than actually operating a profitable business. So what difference will it make if their costs go up a bit? Today they lose $1 billion, tomorrow they lose $1.5 billion. It's not their money, venture capitalists have been happy to shovel all that cash into the hole. If they didn't care about it before, why would they start caring now?

In a normal world, sure, if you force a company to pay their workers more, that additional cost will be passed on to customers so the business can stay in business. With the likes of Uber, there is simply no connection between costs and income, so there's no reason to expect anything sensible to happen as a result of any changes.

Iran bans cryptocurrency mining for four months as the weather – and election campaigns – start to heat up

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Re: Just how to monitor the ban

The same way they do now. All cryptomining in Iran already has to be licensed, so they know exactly who is doing and and where it's happening. All they need to do is check their list of miners (not minors) and make sure they're not using any electricity.

"Some 85 per cent of the current mining in Iran is unlicensed"

Oh. Well, now it's on double secret probation. I'm sure that will make a big difference.

Contract killer: Certified PDFs can be secretly tampered with during the signing process, boffins find

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"The techniques described aren't perfect: the alterations can be later discovered when the PDF files are compared"

This is an odd sentence to write. The techniques aren't perfect because they only work on the thing they're used on? No shit. It sounds like the techniques absolutely are perfect at doing what they actually do, they just don't magically do a bunch of unrelated impossible things at the same time.

Snowden was right, rules human rights court as it declares UK spy laws broke ECHR

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Re: Always listening to our customers

Yep, "The Profits of Religion", 1917. However, it's worth bearing in mind that that book, along with the others in the series, were a satirical attack on various American institutions, and the way people blindly accepted them and the problems they caused. People are likely to be more familiar with his book "The Jungle", which single-handledly halved the sales of meat in the US (obviously only in the short term; people have short memories) when it exposed the exploitation in that industry. The whole point of the quote about having nothing to fear was that it was supposed to be a bad thing - the protagonist was complaining about having all his communications read by the authorities, and the faceless bureaucracy simply didn't care, giving that as the reply.

So it's worth remembering both the origin and its later use. Originally, it was a criticism of exactly the type of spying that Snowden was upset about, and it's tacit acceptance by both the government and the people. Later, it was adopted by the Nazis who took that sort of warning as an instruction manual on how to oppress people. Which gives us something of an object lesson - if you ignore warnings about surveillance and the ignoring of human rights, you risk ending up with people thinking that's how things are supposed to work, and at the extreme, Nazis.

Steve Wozniak to take stand: $1m suit claiming Woz stole idea for branded tech boot camp goes to trial

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You can't copyright the idea of a branded thing, but you can copyright the specific designs for the branding. And just because it's your own face doesn't mean someone else can't own the copyright to things like logos and such based on it. The claim here isn't simply that Steve Wozniak copied the idea (although that certianly does seem to be the actual motivation behind it), but rather that the specific details created for one business venture were copied and used for another without permission. If you look at the original filing (linked in the article), the copyright claim would seem to boil down to how similar exhibits H (the original) and J (the second attempt) are to each other.

Which would seem to fall completely flat on the grounds that they don't look anything like each other. Woz U looks like it was thrown together in five minutes by someone with access to a single photo of Wozniak and a generic business/academic text generator. They can't have copied the logo, because it doesn't even have one. Other than containing the word "Woz" and his face appearing somewhere at some point, there is no similarity at all. The Woz Institute of Technology looks like it at least had a competent web designer involved at some point.

So the copyright claim is a valid claim that is allowed to see its day in court, but it's pretty much guaranteed to fail because it's obviously complete nonsense. However, that does still leave the breach of contract, which contrary to the claim in this article, has not been dismissed. The counts that were dismissed were for "money had and received" and "accounting". IANAL, but as far as I can see those were connected claims that basically wanted to see the accounts to know how much money Woz U made, and then have some of it. The breach of contract claim is the only one left that seems to have any legs - the final count is for declaratory relief, which as far as I can tell means the court will officially state that Reilly is in the right and Woz did copy his idea and needs to pay for it. But I don't see how that would mean anything if all the other claims alleging actual damages fail.

So overall, two claims have been dismissed and one doesn't really matter on its own. The copyright claim is techically valid but obviously stupid. The breach of contract claim relies on a verbal agreement, a handshake and a subsequent email, so it's only an implied contract and not actually a signed document. Which looks fairly shaky, but I think does have real legal standing so is probably the only thing keeping the case alive.

Lessons have not been learned: Microsoft's Modern Comments leave users reaching for the rollback button

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Re: This is Google Docs comments

"MS have fucked up by pushing this out instead of letting people opt in, but the fact that Google docs uses this style of comments without raising a pitchfork wielding mob makes it clear that it's not what they've done that's the problem, it's how they've done it."

Alternatively, it makes it clear that people choose to use Word specifically because it doesn't work the way Google docs does, and they get upset when that choice is suddenly taken away from them. Not everyone wants social media-style alway-online instant-sharing collaborative editing. Sometimes, that can be useful. For a local sports club event, for example, being able to send out a link to a single document where everyone can fill in attendance details, kit needed, number of people who can fit in their car, and other handy information can be quite useful. When I'm writing a scientific paper, the entire point is to have a static document sent out, then a number of people independently and anonymously comment on it and then send their version back via a third party. In that case, having a shared online document updated in real time with notifications sent out to everyone isn't just annoying or inefficient, it fundamentally breaks the entire process.

So no, it's not simply how they've done it. Sometimes there are good reasons for preferring one way of doing things over another. It might simply mean a lot of unnecessary work to change processes, but it might simply be entirely incompatible with some kinds of work. The "how", in pushing it out with no warning or opt-out, certainly doesn't help. But for some people it's very much the "what" that is the problem.

Android 12 beta lands bringing better personalisation, speed upgrades, and some privacy tools borrowed from iOS 14

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Re: Looks like shit

The thing about personalisation is that it's personal. People like being able to choose the colour of their phone, or pick their own ringtone. Having everything automatically chosen for you based on some entirely unrelated thing you've set elsewhere has nothing to do with personalisation. The big problem here is that most people don't choose their wallpaper because of it's colouring, and especially not for how well those colours might work in a user interface. An awful lot of people have photos of children, pets, friends, and so on, or at least some picture that has some personal meaning to them. That doesn't mean everyone wants their interface to be the colour of a baby's skin.

There's also the problem of having too much of a good thing. Your partner may well like having a bright pink background on her phone, but I doubt that means she wants everything in all apps to be bright pink at all times. Same principle as photos really - people might like having a quick glance at it before they open an app, but that doesn't mean they want to see the same photo for hours on end all the time they're trying to do something.

Beyond video to interactive, personalised content: BBC is experimenting with rebuilding its iPlayer in WebAssembly

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Re: Fuck the BBC - fuck iPlayer

Not really. The BBC has always been the broadcasting arm of the government. In theory it's supposed to be relatively impartial, but in practise it's funded by the government and run by people appointed by the government, and that inevitably leads to there being a certain slant on things. The BBC generally manages to be a lot better than most other state-run propaganda vehicles, but it's far from immune to this.

What this means in practice is that the BBC is almost always at least somewhat biased in favour of the current ruling party. At the moment, that means the Tories. And since they've been in power for a while now, and tend to be far more blatant than most about putting their mates into cushy jobs, the effect on the BBC has become rather more noticable. Back when Labour had been in power for a decade, it was the other way around, although maybe not to quite the same extent.

That last part is likely why so many people seem to believe that the BBC gets equal complaints from both sides and therefore must be balanced. Right now, they are biased towards the Tories. 10 years ago, they were biased towards Labour. People who think there are equal complaints from both sides might be correct if you average over a long time, but they're very wrong if you look at any specific point in time. Swinging between biased one way and biased the other doesn't mean they must be doing something right and giving a balanced view, it means they're always doing it wrong.

iFixit slams Samsung's phone 'upcycling' scheme for falling short of what was promised

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Re: But what about Apple?

"it would have gone to somebody else who could continue to use it; which is the ultimate form of recycling."

Exactly. This is why the catchphrase is "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle", in that order. Sending a 1 year old phone off to be recycled is terrible. Yes, it's slightly better than just throwing in a landfill, but not by much. Every phone bought will become waste of some form or another eventually, so by far the best thing you can do to reduce that is to not buy a new phone at all. If you absolutely must replace it, then the best thing to do is reuse it somehow, either by giving it to someone who still thinks it's fine or by repurposing it in some way. That latter part is what Samsung has apparently decided not to do. You only resort to recycling when an item is no longer suitable for any use, and all you can do is try to salvage something useful from its remains.

Boasting about Apple's supply chain being great because they dismantle and recycle large portions of perfectly good equipment betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of how environmentalism actually works. Binning a perfecly good phone and buying a new one is not a good thing to do. Sending it to Apple who will dismantle and throw out significant parts of it is not a good thing to do. You don't get to justify a needlessly wasteful lifestyle by saying that your waste disposal is very slightly better than the worst option possible.

Waymo self-driving robotaxi goes rogue with passenger inside, escapes support staff

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Re: What?

Personally I'd rather ride in something that did neither. Overly cautious driving can be just as dangerous as overly agressive driving. Although in this case I'd characterise it as just plain erratic rather than cautious - reversing into traffic and having to do emergency stops after randomly deciding to pull out while being passed is hardly cautious. If anything, it drives like a stereotypical old person - slow, delayed responses, but ultimately extremely erratic when it finally decides to do something. The narrator even explicitly calls it out as being aggressive near the start of the video.

As for being ready, I'm far from convinced. Not simply because of the major screwup that's made the headlines, but the whole video is quite painful to watch. It looks like it hit the kerb on its first turn out of the car park (at ~1:00) which is the point where he comments on how uncomfortably aggressive it is (and then immediately tries to claim he isn't really uncomfortable; see the post that started this thread). And while I'm not sure of US road law, it appears to be in the wrong lane most of the time, but also changes lane at random (again, the narrator comments on this), including immediately after being undertaken.

I haven't watched his other 53 videos where supposedly nothing went wrong, but if this one is at all representative, there were almost certainly multiple things that went wrong in every single one. Just not anything wrong enough to make headlines. A failure rate of 1/54 would be pretty terrible for something allowed on public roads in any case, but it actually seems to be significantly worse than that in reality. It's not just catastrophic failures that matter; basic competence like picking the correct lane, not trying to ram cars that are passing and recognising routine features like traffic are all quite basic things a self-driving car needs to be able to do, and Waymo apparently can't.

Linux laptop biz System76 makes its first foray into the mechanical keyboard world with dinky, hackable Launch

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Re: Why?

There are already plenty of keyboards that allow you to create and run macros. Usually they're gamer-oriented keyboards with extra keys specifically for them, but that's not required. But as others have noted, it's trivial to do that sort of thing in software, you don't need to be able to edit the firmware.

Cloudflare launches campaign to ‘end the madness’ of CAPTCHAs

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Hardware dongle

"The user plugs the device into their computer or taps it to their phone for wireless signature (using NFC)... A cryptographic attestation is sent to Cloudflare, which allows the user in upon verification of the user presence test."

OK, I need to check I'm not misunderstanding something here. Their proposal for humans to identify themselves as human and not a computer, is to get a computer to do it for them automatically. I'm really not clear on how this is supposed to help.

'Biggest data grab' in NHS history stuffs GP records in a central store for 'research' – and the time to opt out is now

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Re: PDF ?

Tigers are the 21st century version of leopards.

I'll sentence myself to another re-read, clearly it's been too long.

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: PDF ?

The main NHS page: https://www.nhs.uk/your-nhs-data-matters/manage-your-choice/

The page it sends you to actually do the job: https://your-data-matters.service.nhs.uk/

As others have noted, you can't do it for children under 13. Technically you can't do it for anyone else at all, but I suspect the website won't know who's typing if you have all the relevant details.

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: PDF ?

It's very much 21st century. The mistake you're making is in thinking they want it to be accessible. Requiring posted hard copies is the 21st century equivalent of the filing cabinet in the basement labelled "Beware of the tiger".

Blessed are the cryptographers, labelling them criminal enablers is just foolish

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It takes no time to open the glove box if they've already broken into the car. The point of having a crappy radio clearly visible through the window is to prevent them from breaking in in the first place because it looks like it's not worth their while. Exactly the same principle as not leaving all your valuables on display on the back seat, or through your living room window. You can't stop someone who is determined to search for anything that might be in there, but the entire point of opportunists is that they'll go for the quick and easy score instead of wasting their time searching every car and house on the street in the hopes of finding something hidden.

Compsci boffin publishes proof-of-concept code for 54-year-old zero-day in Universal Turing Machine

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Re: The illusion of absolute security

Exactly. It's pretty much always a trade off between security and convenience. You can make a computer arbitrarily secure by making it arbitrarily difficult to access. There really is no other way - no matter how much you try to build security into the system itself, it's always going to be vulnerable to things like malicious insiders, supply chain attacks, or just good old rubber hose cryptography. You really can't protect against an authorised user with a gun to their head, so the only way to be completely secure is to eliminate user entirely. As a wise computer once said, the only way to win is not to play.

When software depends on a project thanklessly maintained by a random guy in Nebraska, is open source sustainable?

Cuddles Silver badge

It depends what you mean by the ability to do that. Sure, in theory it means you can just fork it yourself if the developer stops supporting it. But in practice, the reason you weren't developing it yourself in the first place is likely because you lack the ability to actually do so. It doesn't matter if that's a lack of technical skill, financial resources, or whatever else, if you were having to rely on an underfunded volunteer developer, that doesn't bode well for your ability to replace them if they quit.

US declares emergency after ransomware shuts oil pipeline that pumps 100 million gallons a day

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: One word:

It's not completely trivial, but it's not as comlicated as it might be. When it comes down to it, the vast majority of software updates these days are either security updates or pointless faffing around with the UI. An airgapped control system doesn't need either of those. Once you have your fuel line, or whatever, up and running, there should be relatively little that needs changing in the future. After all, the main reason security is such a problem with these systems is that most of them haven't been updated for years or even decades.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 modem code flaw exposed Android smartphones to possible snooping

Cuddles Silver badge


"Good thing researchers spotted it, no evidence of exploit in the wild"

The Snapdragon 855 was first released at the start of 2019. That puts it firmly outside support for most Android devices. There may be no evidence of it being exploited in the wild yet, but how much would you like to bet that state of affairs continues now it's been published for the world to see?

Crane horror Reg reader uses his severed finger to unlock Samsung Galaxy phone

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: Biometrics should not be part of ID or Security

But that's kind of the point - your average casual thief may be happy to swipe a phone or other small valuables, but is less likely to be willing to cause serious harm, and much, much less likely to have any interest in targeted severing of body parts. If you're a target of interest to a TLA or drugs cartel, this may be something you need to take into account for your security precautions. But it's simply not relevant to the vast majority of population who only need to worry about casual opportunistic theft and not targeted violent attacks.

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: Biometrics should not be part of ID or Security

As always, it depends. There's always a compromise between security and convenience, you just have to choose which balance is best in each particular situation. For most people, by far the biggest risk to their phone is losing it and having some random pick it up or having it swiped by a casual thief. In either case, a fingerprint is more than sufficient, since they have no idea who you are, no way to get a copy of your fingerprint, and no interest in anything beyond wiping it and selling it on. On the other hand, most people want to unlock their phone tens or hundreds of times every day, so being able to give it a quick poke has a large benefit.

Obviously requirements for accessing top secret military information has very different considerations.

So a blanket "never" doesn't really make sense. Biometrics have some clear downsides, but they also have some upsides. And depending on what you're doing, those downsides may not be that bad, but the upsides might be quite useful. And in any case, security guidelines always need to take into account what is actually possible. Even if using a long, complex password to secure your phone, the vast majority of people will never actually use one, so insisting that they do is completely pointless. A fingerpring might not be the best solution, but it's likely better than a simple four digit PIN or a swipe pattern that can be clearly seen smeared across the screen. As always, it's important not to let perfect be the enemy of better.

Can your AI code be fooled by vandalized images or clever wording? Microsoft open sources a tool to test for that

Cuddles Silver badge

Can your AI code be fooled by vandalized images or clever wording?


Googler demolishes one of Apple's monopoly defenses – that web apps are just as good as native iOS software

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: Detailed but also quite biased.

"His bias is obvious, but I nevertheless think Apple is going to be on a losing wicket wherever the argument relies on web apps being just as good as native app"

Exactly. We here are free to argue over whether various features in browsers are actually good to have or not. But Apple's argument in court is that web apps are functionally equivalent to native apps, and the long list of missing and poorly implemented features shows that's simply not true.

Billions in data protection lawsuits rides on Google's last-ditch UK Supreme Court defence for Safari Workaround sueball

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: errmmm

"By the way, Google apparently makes about $100,000,000 per day from AdWords. Exactly what sort of fine needs to be levied to make any sort of meaningful impact and not just be a rounding error as "the cost of doing business"?"

Well, $3 billion would be a good start. That would be 30 days' worth of income, or a bit under 10% of annual. That would seem to be just about the perfect level for a punitive fine intended to change a company's behaviour - enough to certainly be noticeable by the bean counters, but not enough to simply put the whole thing out of business.

But yes, personal consquences for the people actually responsible for making the decisions would likely be far more effective.

Traffic lights, who needs 'em? Lucky Kentucky residents up in arms over first roundabout

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: French Roundabouts are useless

"Roundabouts only work well if people use the correct lane and signal correctly coming onto and exiting the roundabout."

Not really. Obviously driving competently helps, but the point of roundabouts isn't actually anything to do with rights of way. The important thing is that turning left* is always better than turning right, because it means you don't have to cross through oncoming traffic. This is actually a big deal for journey times, and is a big deal for logistics companies who often now design their routes to avoid right turns - even if it appears to make a route longer, it usually ends up saving time, as well as reducing accidents.

A roundabout simply lays the road out so it is only possible to make left turns. You turn left when you enter it, and you turn left again when you leave it, even if overall that results in you turning right from your original heading. Who has right of way at any given point and how competently people pick their lanes and indicate doesn't change that. People screw up at other junctions all the time as well, especially with Google telling them the wrong lane to use half the time. Obviously having everyone get it right can keep things flowing even better, but roundabouts still work for their primary purpose even if no-one using them knows what they're doing.

*Adjust direction to your local preference.

Terror of the adtech industry iOS 14.5 has landed, and Siri can answer your calls ... though she/he can't hang up

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: So if

"One the assistance needs to be listening into the call to hear the trigger phrase. The second and far bigger problem is what should be the end phrase."

Neither of these are problems at all. The former is no different from the mere existence of voice assistants. If you don't have a problem with it listening to you at all times waiting for an activation phrase, why would you suddenly have a problem with it continuing to function during a phone call? Most people are perfectly happy to use their phone while sitting next to an Alexa speaker, and this is no different.

As for the second, far from being a bigger problem we've already demonstrated that it is not a problem in any way. It was a running joke in the early days of voice activated thingies about how they would handle things like TV shows trying to be realistic by incorporating voice commands used in-show, or what would happen if two people in the street happened to be trying to use commands at the same time. The solution turned out to be that it's just such a vanishingly rare problem that no solution is needed. It's trivial to have an activation phrase that just doesn't come up in normal conversation, and even without having any filtering or voice recognition phones just don't pick up commands from nearby people - the idea of walking down a busy street and saying "Hey Google, call Mum" in a loud voice doesn't actually result in anything happening.

In this specific case, all you need is to say something like "Siri, end call". No-one is going to accidentally end a call unless they're deliberately screwing around.

UK government resists pressure to hold statutory inquiry into Post Office Horizon scandal

Cuddles Silver badge

It will take too long

But somehow waiting around even longer before thinking about doing anything will make it happen quicker? Here in the real world, if something will take a long time it's usually best to make a start as soon as possible.

British IT teacher gets three-year ban after boozing with students at strip club during school trip to Costa Rica

Cuddles Silver badge

Re: I am disappoint...

"17 years olds drinking with their teachers has much to commend it. Less likely to get bladdered and the kids see that drinking sensibly can be fun."

I guess it depends on the teacher. A couple of chill pints, emphasis on the "sensibly" part, sure. Getting blackout drunk and threatening to kill your students, probably not so great. Having a casual drink with your students after work might be frowned upon these days, but there are thousands of school trips like this one happening all the time (OK, maybe not right now) and it would be very naive to assume that no drinking happens. You just don't hear about the vast majority that don't result in a teacher being sent home early for behaviour that goes way over the line.


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