* Posts by Jonathon Green

438 posts • joined 21 Jun 2007

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Big Tech silent on data privacy in post-Roe America

Jonathon Green

Re: The right to tell you what to do

…and yet some of those states are, telling adults what they can or cannot do with their own bodies.

Toyota wants 'closed loop' EV batteries in its future cars

Jonathon Green

[checks smart meter and car charger dashboard app] My home is currently exporting a couple of hundred watts of electricity from solar PV while my car charges at 8 amps (which is plenty for my current usage pattern). If there’s coal being burnt to run electric vehicles it’s not generally on my account…

Majority of Axon's AI ethics board resigns over CEO's taser drones

Jonathon Green

I like Americans. They’re funny…

UK watchdogs ask how they can better regulate algorithms

Jonathon Green

Re: There is actually a fairly simple answer to this…

Incidentally I think there’s a strong case for “right of review” even in the case of a nominally positive decision…

Imagine a situation where somebody is looking to make a major purchase, like, say, a new home which is close to the edge of affordability. They make a series of finance applications, a number of mainstream, big name lenders decline the application while one less well known lenders makes an offer, albeit possibly at a higher rate of interest. A curious potential customer might wonder about this press the “why was I approved for this loan?” button, and the answer which comes back might be something along the lines of…

“Our algorithmic decision support system reports that there’s a 50% chance of you defaulting on this loan within the next 5 years but we can still make money by packaging your loan up with a bunch of others and selling it on at a discount to a company you’ve never heard of based in a country you’ve never heard of, who have a considerably more robust position on default collections than you’d expect from a high street name, and who are not bound by industry codes of practice which high street names subscribe to. Furthermore there are conditions attached which make it prohibitively expensive, if not downright impossible to refinance the loan elsewhere at more competitive rates as and when your circumstances improve”.

That sort of response might make people think again about stretching a little for (say) a nicer house sooner. It might even lead to people taking more of an interest in boring things like financial industry regulation come election time…

Jonathon Green

Re: It's a pity that some "algorithms" are designed to modify themselves!!

“P.S. Jonathon Green suggests that an application should be subject "to human review". In the case of neural networks, his suggestion would need to require a "human review" once every day....or even once every hour! Good luck with that!”

Actually that’s not what I had in mind,

it’s the individual decisions (refusal of a loan application, having a job application turned down, having a comment or post removed from a forum, having the area you live in excluded from a government program, etc, etc, etc) I’d like to see a Right of Review for where an automated system has been involved in the decision. In a lot of cases that’ll mean reviews being requested a *lot* more than once an hour and would be very, very, very expensive, possibly prohibitively so. I’m seeing that as a feature rather than a bug…

Jonathon Green
Boffin

There is actually a fairly simple answer to this…

…although it won’t be popular with the people who want to deploy machine learning or ther algorithmic processes in human facing decision making process or those with an interest in helping people to make (more) money out of such deployments.

A statutory right to human review.

Every organisation commercial or otherwise employing algorithmic decision making in ways which have an impact on actual people (employment, access to education or other public services, access to financial services (or any other commercial services), forum moderation, allocation of resources, planning decisions, targeting of advertising or marketing, the lot…) would be required to declare that and to provide an easy, obvious, one click (or equivalent) option to have any decision made on the basis of those processes reviewed by a competent, qualified human being (or group of human beings) with the power to overturn that decision. Failure to provide an adequate explanation/justification or other response would carry a stiff penalty.

Somehow I doubt that idea will find much traction with government or service providers though…

Elon Musk set to buy Twitter in $44b deal, promises stuff

Jonathon Green
Boffin

Re: "Authenticate all humans"?

I thought it was more of a Daley thing….

“Authenticate! Authenticate!”

Crooks steal NFTs worth '$3m' in Bored Ape Yacht Club heist

Jonathon Green

Re: Dumb and dumber

“In which jurisdiction to you apply the tax? Where the Buyer is? Where the seller is? Where the exchange is? Where the environmentally damaging processing of the blockchain (Blockchain woohoo!) transaction was done?”

All of them. Plus a few randomly selected locations which could use a bit of a handout, and a couple which don’t actually exist. If people are willing to pay money for something which doesn’t actually exist in any meaningful way then there’s no reason for them to worry about the money they’re paying for it goes… :-)

Twitter faces existential threat from world's richest techbro

Jonathon Green
Trollface

Does it really matter?

If a thing’s worth saying it probably won’t fit into 280 characters, let alone the 70-100 characters which is (apparently) the optimum as measured by retweets…

'Bigger is better' is back for hardware – without any obvious benefits

Jonathon Green

Hardware running ahead of software is hardly new (sometimes the pendulum swings the other way and we’re waiting for hardware capable of putting The New Shiny in software onto the desktop, sometimes it’s the other way round).

Give it a year or two and somebody out there will find a use for it, of course it’s possible we’ll then all wish they hadn’t but once again “plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose“ and all that…

What do you do when all your source walks out the door?

Jonathon Green

Been on the other end of this one…

Many years ago back in my days as EvilKontraktorSkum I took a contract to provide a extra manpower on an engineering project which was putting a large amount of money at risk due to the software component falling somewhat behind schedule.

When I got on site it turned out that development of the software had effectively been hijacked by a single engineer who regarded any attempt to involve anybody else in a project he’d laid claim to as a personal fiefdom as a personal attack and went to considerable lengths to actively sabotage any attempt at collaboration. I thought things might be going in the right direction when eventually, following a series of increasingly tense meetings involving engineering management, project management, HR, and other members of the engineering team it was announced that the individual concerned was going on some kind of extended sabbatical leave, taking the opportunity to address some stress related issues.

Imagine my surprise on going down into the development lab the following Monday I found a large empty space where the development kit had previously been and it turned out that he’d popped in over the weekend “to retrieve some personal effects”, loaded the whole lot into his car (with the aid of site security!), and subsequently announced that from this point on he’d be taking on the project from home.

I did manage to recover reasonably up to date source code, recreate the build environment, and get things moving again but it became clear that whatever else the client needed to sort this mess out and get the project back on track it wasn’t me (or at least not without the assistance of mental health professionals) and a few months down the line I declined a (lucrative!) contract extension in favour of a somewhat healthier working environment.

[1] Client was a provider of subsea control systems for offshore oil and gas installations…

French court pulls SpaceX's Starlink license

Jonathon Green
Boffin

Re: Not quite...

A dish is entirely appropriate if the pork pie is served as God intended, which is to say surrounded by a generous portion of mushy peas.

C: Everyone's favourite programming language isn't a programming language

Jonathon Green
Boffin

Re: Other languages....

Mostly I think it’s saying that writing portable code is hard[1], and that using ABIs which were first defined 50 years or so ago and have been subject to constant revision/extension while trying to retain something which if you squint a bit and don’t get too close looks a bit like backwards compatibility doesn’t help[1].

What any of the authors expect to achieve by these observations is somewhat unclear though. I’m sure that with the benefit of hindsight we can come up with better ways of describing and implementing ABIs but making the case for one of them compelling enough to rip up huge bodies of code to implement the newer, better, shinier models while retaining compatibility with other huge bodies of work which depend on the old ABIs could prove somewhat of a challenge. It’s a classic example of “Well, I wouldn’t start from here…”

[1] Which isn’t the most controversial or profound statement I’ve ever heard by a long chalk.

Jonathon Green
Boffin

Re: Bad definition

I’d suggest that you might have this the wrong way round. The world does not end at the door of the data centre, the edge of the desktop, or the vanishingly thin bezel of your tablet or phone. There is a whole lot of code running in washing machines, heating appliances, and in anonymous looking boxes in utility cupboards which either runs on bare metal or on an RTOS so vanishingly thin that you’d barely know it was there.

C is still very popular for embedded stuff, and it’s not just because it annoys the younglings…

Salesforce sued in attempt to block release of Capitol riot info

Jonathon Green
Trollface

“Fist past the post”

15 hours since this was posted and I still can’t decide whether that phrase was a typo or an astute observation…

Half of bosses out of touch with reality, study shows

Jonathon Green
FAIL

And the other half will bugger off…

…to one of the many enterprises ((like my employer) which have successfully transitioned to a WFH/hybrid model, ditched the expensive office space and will happily hoover up talent from less flexible ones.

There. I fixed it for you…

The right to repairable broadband befits a supposedly critical utility

Jonathon Green
Boffin

I’m kind of struggling with what “right to repair” means or how it would work in this context.

Plug your own broadband router/modem in? Fine.

Look after the cabling on your side of some agreed boundary (like the old BT “master socket” or it’s equivalent)? Fine.

Random people diving in and repatching a kerbside cabinet or equivalent (which is what appeared to be required in this particular case)? Errr… No thanks!

Prototype app outperforms and outlasts outsourced production version

Jonathon Green
Go

I have a “proof of concept” demonstrator which is ten years old and still embedded in a product in use by (amongst others) a number of agencies in the “I could tell you, but then we’d have to shoot you…” sphere if that’s any good… :-)

Russian chip makers face uncertainty as war drags on

Jonathon Green

Re: Call me cynical

There’s a (possibly apocryphal) story about exactly that when Fender (iconic musical instrument manufacturer) first looked into having instruments produced in Japan….

The first few prototypes came through for approval and (as anyone who’s ever played a MIJ Fender will be totally unsurprised by) they were flawlessly executed to the exact spec requested. After examining the prototypes and reading glowing reports from in-house QA and Techs Fender management were very enthusiastic about the project and declared that if the Japanese contractors could meet those standards in production with a 99% acceptance rate from Fender QA the deal would go ahead and ordered a pilot batch on that basis. Sure enough a few months later the first shipment of 100 Stratocasters turned up, and on inspection 99 of them were found to be perfect[1] and one of them had a slightly misaligned screw in the scratch plate…

[1] With respect to what was specified by the contract - I am absolutely not getting into an argument over the relative merits of US and offshore built guitars here!

IT blamed after HR forgets to install sockets in new office

Jonathon Green

Business as usual

It’s really simple.

Management (any management at any level, including the layer of management above you if you’re a middle manager or team leader), whatever else they may or may not be is Not Your Friend, and if circumstances dictate you will always be acceptable collateral damage.

By all means smile, wave, be sociable at whatever minimal level is required to keep the business running smoothly and a reasonably pleasant place to be, and enjoy the benefits while the agendas align but never for a moment believe them, believe in them or really trust them to have your back when the chips are down. Because sooner or later the stakes will reach a level where turning a back, going back on a commitment, or simply telling an outright untruth is of more benefit (get the promotion, receive the bonus payment, save embarrassment to a colleague they’re cultivating with a view to future benefit) than taking a stand and under the bus you (and quite possibly your team with you) will go while the manager responsible carries on with a smile and without a backward glance.

Never ever *really* trust them, never ever *really* believe them, and never, ever choose to willingly make yourself a hostage to them.

I’ve sure someone will be along a by moment with an exception to this, but in practice they are sufficiently rare that they are best treated as you would a unicorn, a mermaid, or an honest reliable estate agent…

Europe's largest nuclear plant on fire after Russian attack

Jonathon Green

Re: I know it can't be done

You wouldn’t even have to bomb them.

Crater the crap out of the roads in front and behind, bring down a few bridges, and they’re going nowhere…

EU cuts off key Russian banks from SWIFT system

Jonathon Green
Devil

“… do you want a humanitarian crisis in Russia too, on top of Ukraine?”

Traditionally one of the shortest routes to, and most effective levers for regime change has been a hungry and pissed off population. Infiltrate a relatively modest number of well motivated, well trained, and well connected former citizens with an axe to grind against the current incumbents into the powder keg and away we go (and away they go).

Sucks to be the weaponised locals, but sucks a lot more to be a Ukrainian right now…

UK internet pioneer Cliff Stanford has died

Jonathon Green

I’ve heard the phrase “end of an era” a lot of times.

For quite a few of us who first enjoyed our own connection to the internet after sending off a paper form and a cheque then receiving a photocopied list of phone numbers, some instructions/advice on installing and configuring a TCP/IP stack, and our our initial login credentials in the post this might actually be exactly that…

IBM cannot kill this age-discrimination lawsuit linked to CEO

Jonathon Green

Re: Semantic alert

Along with the punctuation marks and spaces in-between the words. I’d probably be looking for a detailed physical and chemical analysis of the paper and ink along with DNA analysis of any traces of organic material while they’re at it because that’s how slippery these creeps are, and that’s how closely they need to be scrutinised…

Beware the techie who takes things literally

Jonathon Green
Holmes

“I find it a bit uncomfortable working for people I know are ripping off software, after all if they're willing to rip off software (especially affordable software) what else are they willing to rip off?”

You. They’re willing to rip you off, exactly as happened in this case…

IBM HR chief insists 'no systemic age discrimination'

Jonathon Green

Re: no systemic age discrimination

…or “age”, or “discrimination”. I doubt there’s much commitment to the spaces between the words either.

IT technician jailed for wiping school's and pupils' devices

Jonathon Green
Trollface

On the bright side…

,,,that’s a whole bunch of people who have learned the importance of backing up valuable data.

Car radios crashed by station broadcasting images with no file extension

Jonathon Green
WTF?

Re: Mazda's Infotainment is a pile of garbage

Isn’t that what people go to those bits of Scotland *for*?

Working in Arm's engineering team? You're probably happy with your pay rise

Jonathon Green

Re: "our people are core to our success"

Mmmm…

I’ve worked at a number of start ups and SMEs where Engineering moonlight to keep IT running (and sometimes facilities, sales, marketing and HR) with various levels of success from “just about manage to keep the lights on and prevent the building catching fire” upwards but I can’t recall a single one where IT were doing the product development.

I’m not saying it’s the best, most efficient way of doing things, and I’m not advocating that companies should shred their IT departments and set their senior engineering staff to work on the infrastructure in their downtime, but, if push comes to shove somebody who can implement a service or protocol from the ground up on the basis of an ISO spec, a set of RFCs, or whatever is probably capable of configuring and managing it…

European watchdog: All data collected about users via ad-consent popup system must be deleted

Jonathon Green
Trollface

Re: The fly reports...

They call it a leadership meeting, I prefer “target rich environment”…

Jonathon Green
Childcatcher

Re: Agree 100%

Have you considered simply advertising your developer tools (hypothetical or otherwise) on a specialist site targeted at the kind of people you’d expect to be in the market for them?

I think you’ll find that when you get down to that level of niche interest the advertising probably costs less than Coca Cola, McDonalds, VW et-al are generally paying for a front-page, high traffic location.

Otherwise I’m afraid it’s a short tune on the world’s tiniest violin for you…

Oracle Linux appears somewhere unexpected: The Windows Store

Jonathon Green
Trollface

Re: No Thanks

Except their money. I’m quite happy to (indirectly, through my employer) take their money…

US Navy in mad dash to salvage F-35C that fell off a carrier into South China Sea

Jonathon Green

Yep. Clearly skirting a violation of articles 2 & 7 of the Benthic treaty with (depending on the weapons load and configuration of the F35 in question[1]) the option of an added side order of appendix 2…

http://thecolvillegroup-archives.wikidot.com/azorian

[1] I’m assuming here that The Black Chamber operates it’s own equivalent of 666 Squadron and its White Elephant flights…

Jonathon Green

…although not always with *complete* success…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Azorian

…so, are we looking at a remake of Project Azorian with Elon Musk taking the Howard Hughes role, SpaceX as Glomar, and one of those drone ships as the Glomar Explorer? :-)

Jonathon Green
Trollface

I know this probably makes me A Very Bad Person, but…

I really, really, really hope the Chinese get to assert dibs over the wreckage

Because yeah, I know military secrets, strategic technology, National Security, Taiwan, Tibet, and all that stuff. And I know it probably makes me an incredibly bad person but I just think it would be really, really funny and then US reaction with the efforts to repair the PR issues, the scenery chewing rants from The Usual Suspects, and the sheer embarrassment would be utterly hilarious.

If the world is going to hell in a hight tech stealth hand basket launched from a Nuclear Powered aircraft carrier then you might as well at least get a laugh out of it…

IPv6 is built to be better, but that's not the route to success

Jonathon Green

…and that was the greatest thing about it!

McAfee's and FireEye rename themselves ‘Trellix’

Jonathon Green

Re: And the man would be proud to hear it.

Do I have to choose *one* of those alternatives? :-)

Jonathon Green
Trollface

So that’s “McAffee and FireWire rename themselves as something, anything, whatever it takes to further distance them from the eponymous gun-wielding no tax paying, libertarian fruitcake founder…”

SpaceX Starlink sat streaks now present in nearly a fifth of all astronomical images snapped by Caltech telescope

Jonathon Green
Trollface

That and cheap, compact, really, really, really powerful lasers.

Since some observatories already use lasers to measure and correct for atmospheric effects adding a small satellite killer to the package shouldn’t be too hard… :-)

Fisher Price's Bluetooth reboot of pre-school play phone has adult privacy flaw

Jonathon Green

Re: Turning it off

I suspect it’s not actually aimed at Children. I don’t know about anybody else but this has got me seriously thinking about looking out for an original, gutting it, and building my own equivalent…

Dutch nuclear authority bans anti-5G pendants that could hurt their owners via – you guessed it – radiation

Jonathon Green
Trollface

Re: WTF?

Is there a companion volume which provides advice on how to achieve maximum antagonism and anger? That seems like it would be *much* more entertaining…

Better CEO is 'taking time off' after firing 900 staff on Zoom

Jonathon Green
Trollface

Re: Crass Act

Quite brave in a country with high levels of gun ownership and poor access to mental health provision… :-)

Co-Operative Bank today 'terminated' Capita's outsourcing contract years before it was due to expire

Jonathon Green
Trollface

Re: Ex Mutual?

…and yet so many businesses still frame everything in terms of “maximising shareholder value”[1] and reference “fiduciary duty’s to shareholders” as justification for driving down costs to the detriment of employees, smaller suppliers, and the wider communities they exist within.

Funny that…

[1] In fact “We work to increase shareholder value” replaced a whole lot of more altruistic, socially responsible stuff as the official statement of values at one company I worked at some te ago…

Leaked footage shows British F-35B falling off HMS Queen Elizabeth and pilot's death-defying ejection

Jonathon Green
Coat

Dam(n) right they have!

Nuclear fusion firm Pulsar fires up a UK-built hybrid rocket engine

Jonathon Green

Re: Rocket science

I’d also commend “ Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons” by George Pendleton. Where else are you going to find the early history of JPL, Aleister Crowley, and L. Ron Hubbard in a single non-fictional story…?

Jonathon Green

Re: Fusion rocket engines - the gist

I have no idea what kind of fusion this bunch are working on, but let’s say it’s inertial confinement…

Letting my fevered imagination and hand-wave level understanding of how this stuff works have free reign then that strikes me as taking us a fair chunk of the way towards a less nightmare inducing variant of Orion, where rather than letting off a series of full-on thermonuclear bombs behind your ship to push it along you spit out a stream of dinky little pellets (Hohlraum?) containing a deuterium/tritium mix and “detonate” them with big-ass lasers[1].

Or to put it another way, if you squint a bit, don’t look too closely, and crank your optimism up to 11 the National Ignition Facility[2] at Lawrence Livermore is actually a ground based prototype starship drive… :-)

[1] Sharks optional…

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Ignition_Facility

Government-favoured child safety app warned it could violate the UK's Investigatory Powers Act with message-scanning tech

Jonathon Green

Well, the first question there would be “Why are you signing your 5 year old up to a service which allows arbitrary, unvetted individuals (and I’d include other 5 year olds in that category…) to send messages to them directly?”

Jonathon Green

“…we were intercepting incoming messages, without the authority of the person that had sent it in the first place.”

[…]

“And so what seemed a pretty obvious thing to do – why wouldn't you be allowed to do that – you know, it just put the fear of God in me."

I was going to say that words failed me. But then it turned out that words hadn’t failed me at all as words like “Good.” and phrases like ‘Have you considered applying for a job in the home office?” Immediately came to mind.

James Webb Space Telescope gets all shook up – launch delayed again

Jonathon Green

Re: a "sudden, unplanned release of a clamp band"

Wasn’t “engine rich burn” actually one of SpaceX’s from a recent Starship test flight that ended with a rapid unplanned disassembly shortly before or after landing?

Jonathon Green

It’s almost certainly not a big deal, but as it’s a lot easier to deal with a slightly loose connection, fractionally misaligned mechanical linkage, or tweaked pipe fitting on the ground than in orbit I don’t blame them one little bit for wanting to be sure…

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