* Posts by Hugh Barnard

25 publicly visible posts • joined 13 Dec 2011

Chap joins elite support team, solves what no one else can. Is he invited back? Is he f**k

Hugh Barnard

In about 1974 (yes, yes) I pointed out that the ICL tape sort program had a switch that left the tapes loaded (accessible). Saved hours on tape batch systems under George II. Was considered a smartass and left, one year or so later.

Guess who's hiking their prices again? Come on, it's as easy as 123 Reg

Hugh Barnard

Truly dreadful company. Also, transferring domains out from 123 is an esoteric and time-consuming task. I've been there. Avoid, at all costs.

Facebook pulls plug on language-inventing chatbots? THE TRUTH

Hugh Barnard

Gradual Loss of Control

Actually, I'm more worried about 'trivial' things like this than killer robots. Here's a fairly famous paper from 1983: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0005109883900468

If the next language is genuinely indecipherable and is used to exchange information between power plants, for example, then we need to worry somewhat. I agree that the whole story got blown out of proportion in the non-tech news outlets, but there is a worry there.

While Microsoft griped about NSA exploit stockpiles, it stockpiled patches: Friday's WinXP fix was built in February

Hugh Barnard

Time to think about monoculture. For desktop and web, most modern Linux distributions will work just as well. Push back on equipment manufacturers who embed Windows too, actually Linux or better a BSD flavour would be good business for them.

I'm not suggesting Stallman-esque 'free everywhere', but 'Microsoft everywhere' isn't in anyone's interests except Microsoft itself.

Facebook is abusive. It's time to divorce it

Hugh Barnard

De-Facebook as part of a 'process'

I'm glad that this idea is gradually going mainstream. I removed myself (after about 3 weeks and 300 'friend requests' from people that I didn't really know) about three years ago. I had made the analysis that I didn't want a great big, centralised, commercial thing to know a lot about me. Also, it's a time waster and I waste enough time without extra help, thank you.

Perversely, I'm still using Gmail, but that's gone this year. And I agree with other commentators that Google (and Amazon, for example) are just as dangerous. Also, as I'm a data extremist (calm down SIS, '5' etc. etc., calm down m'dears) I've given up my loyalty cards except for the Co-Op, I consider them to be a bad Faustian bargain.

So I think it's better to see this as a process with de-Facebooking as one step. Up to the individual how far to take it.

Douglas Coupland: The average IQ is now 103 and the present is melting into the future

Hugh Barnard

Misquote from Wlliam Gibson

"the future is already here" but Gibson:

The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed. from: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/William_Gibson

A much more subtle and interesting idea, in my opinion.

Gov may need to splash £245m per year on IT contractors – NAO

Hugh Barnard

Yes, the NIC level for employment without any benefits, sick pay, holiday pay, constant guarantee of work. Add to that completely confusing and (probably) unevenly applied IR35 'rules'. Finally whilst being squeezed and vilified watch Google, Amazon etc. etc. make sweetheart deals and pay very little tax dwarfing any 'loss' from we, the scumbag contractors.

I'm old and my need for income is pretty minimal, so I'm just not going to work very much now. Let's consider it an example of a self-employed person on work-to-rule. I encourage any others in my position to do the same.

Do the numbers, Einstein: AI is more than maths as some know it

Hugh Barnard

Good introduction, but worth saying that graphs are very general and powerful. For example, some tyoes of zero knowledge proof are graph theory based too: http://tinyurl.com/lq22k44

Smart meter firm EDMI asked UK for £7m to change a single component

Hugh Barnard

I suggested at the 'consultation' (I call them insultations now, being patronised to death by Sir Humphrey) that the UK consider P1 data ports on the consumer side as in the Netherlands. This would allow 'us' to have the datastream for analysis, rather than only the suppliers.

If I had simple access to the data, I might consider it. But, as it is, and other commentators have said on this thread, waste of space, waste of money, bad security and no upside for the consumer (I don't count the smiley face 'in home display'). As usual a bit of Crapita is involved too.

GoDaddy DNS has gone diddy

Hugh Barnard

GoDaddy, I used to spend quite a bit of time, but made some money, rescuing people from their clutches. People see the prices and the television adverts, but as someone said to me, 20 years ago, 'you got what you paid for'

Awoogah, enterprise bods: Tintri recruits Echo Alexa speechbot

Hugh Barnard

As the very old story/myth, about the first demonstrations of voice input with 'rm minus r f star', now 'Alex delete all attached volumes' etc. etc. Nice, but need to be a little careful.

Building IoT: Forget the vision, just show us how to build it

Hugh Barnard

Re: "Just show us how to build it"

I agree. I'm 66 spent 40 years in the computer industry. One quick example, smart meters provide energy companies with surge-pricing, tons of data for gameing the energy markets (spot and future), peremptory disconnection without appeal, and, of course various privacy breaches (when you are at home, whether you are growing pot (of course not!), hacker disconnection). Since there's no data port (unlike the P1 in the Netherlands) on the consumer side, there's no benefit to the consumer, except a childish smiley face thingy.

However, I do believe that there 'could' be an open source, open data IoT for the benefit of the citizen and civil society. I presented a few sketches here: http://www.hughbarnard.org/content/sensor-networks-and-social-policy-bonds in 2009 and in 2015 here: http://www.hughbarnard.org/content/living-noham Currently, of course, and as you say, Google, Amazon etc. are elbowing into this space with self-serving, privacy-eroding gadgets. Hey Alexa **** ***!

Army social media psyops bods struggling to attract fresh blood

Hugh Barnard

Re: In my day...

Travel the world, Meet people, and kill them...

‘Artificial Intelligence’ was 2016's fake news

Hugh Barnard

AI, Responsibility and Exclusion

Great article. Worse, most of AI, isn't, it's statistical optimisation coupled with a surrender of human responsibility. Thus, the jokes about 'computer says no' are coming true.

But, worse still, the 'predictive abilities' will probably be used to exclude and marginalise, in the same way that districts were redlined (qv) in urban USA. And worse, worse, all the 'optimisation' is sub-symbolic so there's no explanations, just judgements and a total inability to deal well with outliers, like the 2008 crash. Note that one of the big hedge funds has decided to use 'AI' to 'manage' its investments: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/22/bridgewater-associates-ai-artificial-intelligence-management

UK's new Snoopers' Charter just passed an encryption backdoor law by the backdoor

Hugh Barnard


Does anyone have ideas about the legal status of 'canaries' (notices that they have NOT been asked to supply data/logs etc.)?

When a request by the government, GCHQ etc. IS made they 'lapse', thus avoiding provisions made by the government that no-one can be informed. https://riseup.net/ the left-wing provider has used this technique in the past, anyway. Obviously, the problem is not solved, but, at least it's 'signalled'.

Corbyn lied, Virgin Trains lied, Harambe died

Hugh Barnard

It's fair to say that public-owned East Coast mainline was a success, so it 'had to be' re-privatised because of neo-liberal magical thinking. Branson has a lot to lose (NHS contracts, train contracts) from any Corbyn style success and digital video can easily be edited.

I'm not a huge devotee of St. Jeremy, but it's obvious that some of it needs saying/doing, unless, for example you'd like private US style healthcare, be rich or die sickening.

Hugh Barnard

Re: Cant see where he lied

Actually the 'brick' affair has turned out to be in a common part of the building away from Eagle's offices. So I'd place less reliance on media owned by billionaires, if I were you.

VW: Just the tip of the pollution iceberg. Who's to blame? Hippies

Hugh Barnard

Re: Yup it's all the 'hippies' fault

Well, at least most of them could spell beggars.

BBC Micro:bit delayed by power supply SNAFU

Hugh Barnard

Re: Codebug works, shipped, in stock

Yes, this whole thing seems to be another BBC not-invented-here or 'we've got tons of public money'. I would have preferred to see them get behind the Pi, OK it's harder, but less fragmentation in the knowledge and teaching.

That said, I took a Pi into my Code Club, they'd never seen one and they were able to use [use being play Minecraft, mainly] in about 30 seconds. Digital natives are actually a breed.

Hugh Barnard

Re: Missed deadlines....

Yes I was 11 or 12 and had a 'matchbox' size thing like that wth discrete PNP [red spot] transistors. Only problem was, the nut and bolt 'connection' wasn't really great once there were several components sitting on one bolt.

Uber is killing off iconic black cabs, warns Zac Goldsmith

Hugh Barnard

Yes agree. This is the promise of TTIP too, lower standards and concentration on profit above every other consideration. Happily I'm pretty old, so I won't have to live with this kind of world . I'm not against profit but I am against 'abuse of dominant position', predatory pricing, zero hour contracts etc. etc. There's a reason that previous generations fought for this stuff.

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

Hugh Barnard

Re: "Personal" computer no more

Yes agree. I've used Linux Mint [a Debian/Ubuntu relation] for the past five or six years as a desktop. I'd quite like an alternative for Access, as I have to deal with Access idiocy professionally and I'd like to find a 'cure', but I don't miss anything else. I have a Windows laptop, but it's used about once a month and will soon be sold.

Happily, I'm old, so I was pretty used to Unix when it was around, that helps, but you don't need it. After being unofficial support line to my ex, I've now converted her desktop and there are much fewer 'help!' calls than previously. She's using day to day without any deep knowledge.

I'm watching the world move from PCs as a useful tool to 'devices' containing 'apps' that are used to 'monetize' whatever. Open source is the only sane way back to putting us in command of our computing world.

Halifax's '24/7' online banking service is down YET AGAIN

Hugh Barnard

Move Your Money

Well, maybe like all these 'banks' they'd better give up all these 'special offers' [money for switching, cashback, insurance we don't need] and concentrate on core business. As if that's going to happen. Yes, like comment above, I've moved out of PLC banks into Nationwide and now looking at Ecology Bank etc.

When we've all closed our accounts in the casinos, maybe there'll be a few changes.

Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart

Hugh Barnard

Consumer Side Raw Data

I agree with the article and with comments here that say that the current set of smart meters are only in the interests of suppliers. For example, we can expect predatory demand pricing and use of big data to rig the energy futures markets, business as usual, in fact.

One thing that is missing from this debate is raw real time data on the consumer side. It's our spend and it's our data. I put this comment into the 'consultation' where, I have no doubt, it was comprehensively ignored by Sir Humphrey and his ilk. Raw real time would enable an eco system of graphing, intelligent control and modelling to build up for the benefit of the consumer [yes, I know, see the little flying pigs] rather than a patronising smiley face LCD display and big data for the supplier.

I tried asking EOn for data logging on my gas meter [electricity is 'easy', just needs a clamp] and was comprehensively blanked. However, I've just asked a smaller supplier for a meter upgrade [from an old U6 type] and a logger and they're listening, at least. If/when I get somewhere, I'll publish the results. Meanwhile to see how the 'ecology' is building up it's worth taking a look at: http://openenergymonitor.org/emon/ for example.

Learning about chip design from Silicon Roundabout

Hugh Barnard

On a more serious note

I live in the East End and [sometimes] work there. There are plenty of kids in Tower Hamlets that could probably use programming as a way into employment, but they're not benefiting from any of this pretentious, not-very-technical froth.

We've actually got a couple of small Linux-based computer rooms into housing estates along Commercial Road. Maybe we should brand ourselves, Roundabout East?