* Posts by Ancientbr IT

53 publicly visible posts • joined 16 Apr 2012


Sci-fi author 'writes' 97 AI-generated tales in nine months

Ancientbr IT

Agreed - but with the proviso that a Universal Basic Income is implemented so that core needs are taken care of.

Ancientbr IT

I think you're confusing machine learning (ML) with artificial intelligence (AI). The latter can extrapolate/interpolate, whereas the former cannot. Both are based on neural networks, but their purpose is different.

An AI can explore the space in and around its training set, based on its nature as an almost-but-not-quite perfectly fitted polynomial curve, extracting novel information.

With ML, the same input produces the same (trained) output (which is what you want). With AI, the same input can yield multiple, different outputs (not to be confused with "hallucinating").

With ML, if you input an item from the training set, you will get an output that corresponds to the trained (and expected) result (if it has been adequately trained). With AI, it is incredibly hard (but not completely impossible) to reconstruct an item from the trained set, given the correct specific input.

For some reason, the popular view is that an AI is nothing more than a database and all it does is regurgitate items from that database. A moment's thought will reveal that that cannot be true, otherwise everyone who entered exactly the same prompt would get back exactly the same response - and they don't (unless they're asking for factual information, but even then, the presentation will almost certainly be different each time).

In addition, the volume of data on which recent LLMs have been trained runs into the hundreds of gigabytes and more, whereas the size of the trained model is measured in tens of gigabytes. HTH.

OpenAI test drives caption-to-image-generating DALL·E 2

Ancientbr IT

I'm curious as to whether DALL·E 2 can generate abstract images based on text that is *not* specifically descriptive. I played with an online service called WOMBO Dream, entering nonsense prompt text such as "Burble Burble" or descriptive but non-specific text such as "Side by side", choosing various art styles until I found something that was pleasing to me.

Because I haven't signed a licensing agreement yet I can't provide any of the images that resulted, but interested folks can always try it for themselves and see what they think.

For me, the results parallel those produced in the music composition space by products such as AIVA.

Microsoft nixes A-V updates for XP, exposes 180 MEEELLION luddites

Ancientbr IT

Is it or isn't it?

I too had read that MSRT support was dropped for XP - so I was slightly puzzled to be able to run MSRT for July on my elderly XP box (Start > MRT).

So is it pulled for XP or isn't it? Inquiring mind needs to know...

How a Cali court ruling could force a complete rethink of search results

Ancientbr IT

My Mileage Does Vary

Whenever I do a search on Google for an explicit string (i.e., enclosed in double quotes), the result sometimes includes the statement (and I'm paraphrasing) "We couldn't find anything for the exact string you requested. These results are for the string without quotes" and then beneath each result that doesn't have one of the terms I included, that term is presented as struck through.

I'm not sure why the court ruled the way it did...

Hear that sound? It's the Windows XP PC bubble popping

Ancientbr IT

I'm glad I'm not the only one who was puzzled by your post. You did spell it "musterd" - why do you claim otherwise? - and you clearly have missing words and some other oddities (spelt? spelled, surely? less then? less than! crocked hat? cocked hat! raise d'etre? raison d'etre (we'll leave aside the circumflex). and on and on).

Phablets and phones have their place, but to do real multitasking work you still need a desktop (right now I have over 30 tabs open in my browser as I do research - good luck trying to do that on the pretenders to the throne :))

Ancientbr IT

Re: Huh?

@toughluck - There are large companies and organizations who cannot just simply upgrade to the next OS. They also can't just stump up the cash when some new piece of software or hardware comes along - most organizations that were doing well a decade ago have been struggling financially for the last five years and are unlikely to see the brakes being taken off for some years yet.

Some of those organizations are constrained by legacy hardware for which the manufacturers have not or will not (due to cost) create drivers and other software for Windows 7/8/8.1 because they've moved on with their hardware and don't want to support older kit.

Others are constrained by regulations that demand full regression testing of all related applications (for one of my clients, that meant 4,000+ applications had to be tested before they could move to Win7, and that took years).

Yet others have custom apps that for a variety of reasons don't take kindly to a change in OS (it's taken me months of testing in VMs to determine that most of my apps won't run cleanly in Windows 8.1 or 10, for example, but do under Win 7 - another OS that's at the end of its life, supposedly - and the newer OS require that I buy new hardware, something I can't afford to do).

(As an aside, I'm puzzled that VMware can write a VM player that runs Win7/8.1/10Preview on XP with elderly kit that Microsoft are adamant they can't support. What? MS can't write a VM for their own OS but a third party can?)

If you're awash with cash and money is no object for anything you choose to buy, good for you. The rest of us are not in such an enviable position.

Ancientbr IT

Re: Huh?

"No-one is checking whether Windows XP is vulnerable to any of the issues that have been reported, and if it is, there is no commitment to developing fixes."

I don't know why this meme persists. Microsoft have been developing fixes for XP since support supposedly ended in early 2014 and shipping them to those organizations who stumped up the readies last year. Does everyone suddenly have amnesia?

The buy-in to the exclusive club was out of reach for ordinary individuals and small businesses who had no choice but to continue with XP, but for institutions and companies who could meet the minimum requirements (having umpteen thousand machines running XP and coughing up - what was it? $150 per installation?) Microsoft pledged to keep pushing out XP patches until at least April this year, and there's reason to believe they'll extend beyond that for the right incentive.

The UK's CCS forked out UKP5.5 million for the NHS and other gummint depts to download fixes for not only XP but also Office 2003 and Exchange 2003. The Netherlands negotiated a separate agreement. I don't know how many commercial enterprises have done likewise.

For "Windows Embedded Industry" XP the support continues until 2019 (which is why I suspect the current April 2015 deadline for all others will likely be moved).

So, let's get the facts straight. XP continues to be supported, but only for those with deep pockets. I had hoped someone might break ranks and help the rest of us poor sods but I've seen nothing so far. I live in hope...

DAY ZERO, and COUNTING: EVIL 'UNICORN' all-Windows vuln - are YOU patched?

Ancientbr IT

Two kinds of XP...

I'm still stuck with XP on a box that dates from 2007 and which cannot be used with Win 7 or later (per Microsoft - the hardware doesn't support those OSs) - it's a long story, but I have absolutely no funds for either updated hardware or a more recent MS OS, and I have software I wrote that works well enough under XP but might not under anything else.

I am experimenting with running evaluation copies of Win 7, 8.1, and even 10 Preview under VMware's free Player on the box that supposedly cannot run any of those operating systems, and so far my tests show that only Win 7 seems to handle my apps without issues. Just my luck that Win 7 is now on the scrapheap too; maybe I can pick up a secondhand CD from a flea-market for a song, and run it under VMware until I can obtain the cash needed to move forward (maybe next year).

But I am mindful that there are at least two XPs out there: the version I have, totally unsupported by Microsoft (even their own VM app works only with Win 7 or later), and the version(s) that a bunch of well-heeled organizations have paid Microsoft to continue to update.

All I can hope is that someone breaks ranks and leaks their XP patches to the rest of us second class XPers (who are still pretty sizable in number despite a false claim that many of us had quit using the OS).

Worlds that could support LIFE found among 715 new planets

Ancientbr IT

Re: Pity Kepler didn't survive longer

Not sure why you would make this claim. Kepler hasn't failed completely and is in the process of being repurposed, and the results published so far are on the first two years of four years worth of data - the second two years are expected to yield similar results. Check out:


for more detailed info.

Google bus protests are Kristallnacht against the rich – tech VC legend

Ancientbr IT

Re: Wealth creation bogosity

The point is that as technology improves, new jobs appear where those workers can be useful instead.

Those new jobs may or may not appear, but where they do, it is erroneous to assume that those cast out from one industry will be able to instantly walk into a position in a different industry.

Few of us can go from pin maker to Senior Principal Business Analyst overnight, even if we had the wherewithal to pay for the tuition required - and even then, we'd be beaten at interview by the person who has been a Principal Business Analyst for some years already.

At this point someone is going to suggest that all along the pin maker should have been taking night classes to qualify as a Business Analyst. The problem with that is the pin maker's employer has been demanding that he work 16 hour shifts and at the same time has been exploiting loopholes to avoid paying overtime (or benefits), leaving the pin maker unable to afford the time (or the money involved) to try to improve his (or her) lot. Burnout is inevitable.

If the state subsidized serious training courses so that the unemployed pin maker could spend the years of study necessary to climb the professional ladder, all the while supporting the pin maker and family with food, rent, utilities and full medical benefits, then maybe - just maybe - the equation would work. But not when the employer and even other pin makers oppose any government capable of providing such support...

Ancientbr IT

Re: Blame

You may be confused. The better analogy (one that is more prescient, IMHO) is with the creative, successful aristos in pre-Revolution France being unfairly criticized by the peasants. If the 1% had any of the super-intelligence that's supposedly attributed to them, they'd see the writing on the wall.

Bear in mind that in the last thirty years in the US, the wealthiest have managed collectively to engineer themselves into a position where they pay far, far less in taxes than they used to, so they take more from society and contribute less. It's little wonder that the 99% are pissed. The safety nets that used to cushion them in times of severe hardship have been eroded by the actions of the 1% and their thoughtless supporters.

The 1% also don't generate jobs - they exploit others for their own benefit. Job creation has always been driven from the bottom by consumers - nobody in the commercial world generates jobs in a vacuum, they respond (slowly) to demand, and that demand comes from people with money to spend.

Under normal circumstances that spending power comes from having a reasonably well paid job, but the drive over the last three decades has been to devalue compensation for all but the apex of the pyramid while at the same time weakening government so that it cannot fulfill its proper function of shoring up the economy in times of distress.

The only own goal is being repeatedly scored by the 1% as they tilt society towards a disruption that is history repeating itself.

Sinclair’s 1984 big shot at business: The QL is 30 years old

Ancientbr IT

Re: Scrabble

I read the article and expected to see that quirk reported - I recall the early units didn't have the keycaps glued in place to save time and money, so one cruel trick was to take a new owner's machine and turn it upside down to hear the gasps of horror :)

(And at the risk of being OTT, all hail Dick Pountain and PCW's Calculator Corner :) Remembered with much fondness.)

Ten classic electronic calculators from the 1970s and 1980s

Ancientbr IT

Re: FX 502-P

I'd forgotten the cradle - thanks for reminding me - and those music overlays for the keypad to help in composition. I wrote some almost-melodic sequences for mine and then set it off while I strummed along with my electric guitar and multi-tracked onto a stereo cassette tape deck.

Ah, nostalgia. Although I don't know where my nost is, I'm happy to experience the algia it gets whenever I trek back mentally some 35 years.

Ancientbr IT

Re: FX 502-P

Extracting from (dusty) archives...

YES! Dick Pountain - the man who published my first "real" program and fed my ego :) I think he offered me seventy quid for the accompanying article, achieved by sticking a cheque for the same in with the letter that asked me if I minded if he published, and as I recall the issue in which it was published arrived the same day in the mail.

The program was a version of Tic-Tac-Toe for the Casio fx502P and Dick seemed to think it was worth examining the code (he made nice comments, which fed my ego even more :)). I've long since lost the issue of PCW (rest in peace) in which it appeared but it was a treasured relic for many years. If I could find a scan of the article online that would be great - I could show my wife what I've been boasting about all these years :) - but it still eludes me.

Truth be told, what got me started in my ongoing addiction to programming was the Sinclair Cambridge. An hour after I bought it (at Boots, in Oxford, I think), while I was buried deep in the manual the bus I was riding was hit head-on by a truck carrying 12 tons of road gravel - one way to have a baptism of fire, so to speak. Some programmers are born, some are made, some have it hammered into them at 50 mph.

I owned or used at work some of the great machines discussed here - Sinclair Cambridge and a couple of other models whose manufacturers' names I can't recall, Casios 201p, 502p, and 702p; an HP 97c (the one with the programmable strips and inbuilt printer and that wonderful RPN that confused an entire department at the University of Oxford but yours truly cracked it :)) and a bunch of others after that (again, memory fails me) until I transitioned into "home computers" - a whole other saga :)

But, all hail Dick Pountain. Also Paul Liptrot for different reasons, and Wendy Wilson/Hunter and Trevor Hood at what was Castle House Publishing, for even more different reasons. One of these days I'll raise a monument to them all (and the countless others who helped me become what I am today - ..er.. - homeless and unemployed in Los Angeles. But still addicted to programming :)).

HP clampdown on 'unauthorised' server fixing to start in January

Ancientbr IT

Re: legal?

To download such updates you have to have satisfied Microsoft's Genuine Advantage requirements, which most systems probably do by communicating with MS in the background.

I have two different installations of an MS OS and both reside in the same box (dual boot); both had to go through Genuine Advantage registration (to prove they were legitimate and not pirated) in order for me to download any patches or updates, or register for Automatic Updates.

How STEVE JOBS saved Apple's bacon with an outstretched ARM

Ancientbr IT

Re: Taking a byte at history

You're right - the BBC Micro was one of the machines officially approved for use in UK schools. Research Machines 380Z was another, as I recall, although it cost ten times as much as the BBC Micro (which meant schools that opted for RM's offering could really only afford to buy one machine per school. Ouch).

I also recall the tussle for the Beeb's Literacy contract - Pope Clive felt that he could capitalize on the ZX80/81 but didn't manage to beat Acorn who already had a successor to their Atom in the works (the Proton) which was swiftly repurposed. The BBC Micros eventually evolved into the Archimedes.

Ah, nostalgia. It's a pain in the ..er.. nost.

While the BBC drools over Twitter, look what UK's up to: Hospital superbug breakthrough

Ancientbr IT

Re: Phages in Russia

Yep - Russia's been using phage therapy since the 1950s. It's slowly making inroads in the UK and US after the FDA stopped pouting over "experimental" treatments.

New Scientist reported on one such therapy several years ago in which an infectious bacterium was eradicated from sheep in 20 minutes (contrast that with antibiotics that take days to even begin to have an effect).

Quantum boffins send data ACROSS TIME AND SPACE

Ancientbr IT

Re: Fear not the paradox is, paradoxically, not going to happen.

Itzhak Bars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itzhak_Bars) has some interesting ideas on two dimensional Time that might be applicable.

Google's Glasses: The tech with specs appeal?

Ancientbr IT

Re: Notification lamp

Didn't we already go down this path in the early 90s? Whatever happened to Private Eye, and the MIT thing that scan low-power microlasers across your retina (which sounds horrendous), and a bunch of other products that supposedly heralded freedom from a monitor?

The Oric-1 is 30

Ancientbr IT

Ah, them were the days...

A nice trip down Memory (hah) Lane for me, too.

In 1978-80 I was transitioning from programmable calculators (PCW published my AI-like Noughts & Crosses program for the Casio fx502p) into computers and after a false start I ended up with the TI-99/4 (the chicklet keyboard precursor to the 4A, that in the UK came with a modified Skantic TV as a monitor) after selling my soul financially...

I remember the UK101, the Rockwell AIM65, and the excitement that "hobby" computing generated in the UK - it was a real compute-by-the-seat-of-your-pants time. All those ingenious tricks to reduce the size of programs - like LET A = SGN(PI) instead of LET A = 1 for the Sinclair - and the mean trick of turning a QL upside down to see if all the key caps fell off...

I ran a TI-99 group back then, and friends I made through using the TI in the early 1980s I still correspond with today. I got into a bunch of things including investigative journalism (even wrote a book on the TI) and eventually moved from working in an NHS research lab into what wasn't even called IT back then.

Almost 35 years later I don't regret one moment. It's been a blast.

How Bodyform's farting 'CEO' became a viral sensation

Ancientbr IT

But why the Windex...?

I still don't under stand why she's drinking a glass of window cleaner...

BYOD: Ready or not, here it comes

Ancientbr IT

Cloud counter-effects...?

I suspect that the BYOD trend will probably be offset eventually by the trend towards putting everything in the Cloud - OS, apps, data - so that YOD becomes little more than a dumb terminal into the system.

Since IT's going to be decimated by the move to the Cloud, the BYOD headaches may be replaced by other, FMAJ* problems.

* Find Me Another Job

Bill Gates, Harry Evans and the smearing of a computer legend

Ancientbr IT

Re: First client: SCO

Decades ago I wrote an article in a small circulation newsletter. It presented a short TI BASIC program that contained a series of complex equations embedded in a simple loop that ran from 0 to 9; the output from each pass was PRINTed. If anyone was bothered to key in the program and run it, the result was displayed on the screen: APRIL FOOL. No prizes for guessing the publication month.

That text string did not appear anywhere in the code - it was the result of output from the injection of the integers 0 through 9 into a complex polynomial derived from a solution (one of many possible) by infinite integrals. In other words, the ASCII values were generated in sequence from a complex curve.

I can't say what method Gary Kildall used but I can say that it's entirely possible to cloak text without resorting to encryption (even now I'm working on a similar technology for a novel approach to privacy protection).

The Higgs boson search continues ... into ANOTHER dimension

Ancientbr IT

Re: "what happened before the big bang"

As I understand it (as a non-expert) dark matter holds structures such as galaxies together while dark energy causes the accelerating expansion of the space-time in between the blobs of dark matter.

In addition, the nature of the "foaming" universe includes pairs of virtual particles that pop in and out of existence and that normally annihilate each other - except when they're sufficiently close to the event horizon of a black hole (naked singularity), at which point one of the pair may be captured and separated from the other sufficiently that the remnant virtual particle becomes real.

This seems to me to suggest that matter is constantly being added to space-time. If this happens outside a blob of dark matter, then there is presumably no real net effect - the new particles will simply move farther away from each other.

However, if it happens inside the blob of dark matter, then although black holes may evaporate over a long period of time (shorter if they're microscopic) there will be a constant supply of fresh matter, potentially capable of forming new solar systems and galaxies (with new black holes) within the increasingly isolated islands of dark matter.

There seems to be evidence for the existence of at least one or more additional dimensions (whether of space or time or both, I'm not sure), allowing the possibility of connections beyond our presently-observable universe, but whether that helps or hinders our ability to predict what is likely to happen, I don't know.

And now I can't remember where I was going with this...:)

Ancientbr IT

Re: Not yet confirmed:

...or the North American boson...

...or the boson of the lifeboat...

Ancientbr IT

Re: "what happened before the big bang"

Black holes evaporate...

Ancientbr IT

Re: Worldwide collider project

Richard Branson might be up for it - not sure about Rupert Murdoch.

Oh, magnets - sorry, I thought you said magnates...

Ancientbr IT

Re: Oh.. alright..

So Einstein only had it half right - it's not dice, it's pool!

PS Bring back Calculator Corner :)

Ancientbr IT

Re: Oh.. alright..

So micro-organisms don't matter...? :)

US Justice Dept rejects criticisms of ebook settlements

Ancientbr IT

In another life I was a published author. My book retailed for UKP5.95. My publisher paid me a royalty (after their costs were deducted) on a sliding scale that worked out to about 25p per copy if the bookseller bought from them at that retail price (which meant they would have made a loss on every book, and who's going to do that?) and went downwards rapidly to a pittance - if the publisher sold at a discount to the bookseller, I got even less (i.e., the percentage of my royalty went down the more the book was discounted to the bookseller, which worked out to about 5p per book for the largest discount).

As I see it, even selling an eBook at 99p through Amazon means the author will get far more today - even as a proportion - than I got in 1984, and the market is potentially much larger than it would have been under the old system, so the possibility of earning a decent living as an author is better now than it was thirty years ago.

This doesn't mean authors are guaranteed riches, obviously. A crappily-written eBook is just as useless as a crappily-written printed book, after all...

Ancientbr IT

Re: why is Apple involved

Which was exactly their policy in the UK with regard to their machines back in the late 80s/early 90s, and why the "grey" market arose (because they forced UK dealers to sell Macs at an inflated price - wouldn't even let UK dealers see what prices they gave US dealers - and it became cost-effective for certain dealers in the UK to buy from some US dealers and fly the units over, undercut Apple's price in the UK and STILL make a profit).

It's ironic that Apple chose "leopard" as a product nickname, IMHO. Spots, changing, and all that...

GM to slash vast outsourced IT empire

Ancientbr IT

Re: Let us centralise all our support into just 2 locations...

How are Dev and Test handled though? Hopefully not on the same systems that are running Production...

Fake sandwich shop's big fake Likes leave Facebook looking flaky

Ancientbr IT

Re: 50 million has to be a wild underestimate.

Kenny Everett would have been proud: Cupid Stunt has at least 20 entries (at least one of which is a bit more creative with some umlauts).

Hugh Jarss likewise. A few B'Stard entries are for the TV character, the rest are presumably fake. There was one C Leigh Farquhar but she may actually be genuine. A score of Gordon Zolas, a dozen I P Knightlys, and on and on. Half a dozen Nora Titsoff. And those are just the English variety - I'm sure there are other language variants. (Mustafa Fag might not be one of them).

My guess? Much, much more than 10% are either fake or duplicates of existing accounts. The figure might even approach 80%...

US officials confirm Stuxnet was a joint US-Israeli op

Ancientbr IT

Didn't Stuxnet Backfire?

I'm still looking for the reference, but I recall reading a few months ago that once the Iranians understood the nature and intent of Stuxnet, they redoubled their efforts, spent even more money on even more centrifuges, and achieved their uranium enrichment goals well ahead of time.

So Stuxnet actually expedited matters rather than slowing them down. Oops.

Windows XP update fails in infinite .NET patch loop

Ancientbr IT

On my XP box the respective .log files fail to appear, and looking at the verbose report it may be because there's an apparent failure to clean up after the install (the files used for installation no longer exist when they come to be deleted), so it may just be a timing issue.

Engineer Doe thought people's private info 'might be useful'

Ancientbr IT

Absolutely! Isn't graphene supposed to be the new inheritor of the silicon mantle? Or carbon nanotubes? Or GaN? Or organic nanowires? Or any one of a number of other candidates, some of which are completely organic? Or memristors? Or...?

Ancientbr IT

Re: Is it "Private Info" when some dingbat has broadcast it over an unencrypted wireless link, then?

...but with regard to the computer just being another home appliance, I just can't forgive peoples stupidity that easily.

I don't know - computers are often sold by the same box shifters that push out microwaves and dishwashers, so why wouldn't a user regard a PC as being in the same class? They don't come with a government warning stamped on them...

Ancientbr IT

Re: Is it "Private Info" when some dingbat has broadcast it over an unencrypted wireless link, then?

Agree 100%. Back in the 1990s when I was coming to grips with networking I was amazed when I installed a software firewall on my elderly system, connected to my ISP and discovered that someone was pinging my machine hundreds of times a minute, probing for an open port.

I've noticed that the IT community (of which I am a member) tends to assume knowledge on the part of dumb (their term) users when it has absolutely no right to do so; maybe if we stopped making those assumptions, some of the more annoying problems would fade away.

IT isn't the only group (or even the first) to assume that users know as much as engineers do, though - for decades, garage mechanics have tended to do the same thing when I've taken my ailing motorcycle in for repairs...

Google KNEW Street View cars were slurping Wi-Fi

Ancientbr IT

Re: Classic technologist's privacy error

As I recall, wasn't the question asked of the engineer "Are these URLs that you extracted from the data streams of open wi-fi spots?"

That seems to imply lots of active behavior and very little passive...

Ancientbr IT

It did occur to me that the collation of open wi-fi spots would enable another feature if a driver was using Google maps at the time, and that is to feed back real time data about traffic density so that suggested re-routing could occur. It's likely to come anyway (not necessarily through Google maps, obviously), but maybe Google were trying to get a step ahead?

Ancientbr IT

Re: Harm - Expectation of privacy

I think the telling aspect is the technology required. Most of the analogies here have talked about seeing or hearing things, and those are activities we do all the time with the equipment (ears, eyes) that we have (or most of us do, and most of us have working versions).

If I'm walking down the street, I'm not going to be able to hear wi-fi; my ears aren't up to it. If I'm sat in my car writing up some notes on my laptop, unless my computer has some kind of wi-fi-compatible card and is configured to constantly look for hotspots and try to connect to them, I'm going to be blissfully unaware of any wi-fi transmissions.

But if I run software or use hardware that's explicitly seeking wi-fi signals, then I've crossed a line from being an accidental recipient of a transmission to being an active seeker, and that's where I think Google broke laws everywhere.

Ancientbr IT

Re: They operated within the law...

... let me make one thing very clear here: I also think that in the end the owners of said open wifi points are also to blame...

This makes the unfair assumption that the wi-fi owner should have known that they were broadcasting publicly, and then holding them partially accountable.

But we all end up broadcasting information publicly no matter how hard we may try to clamp down on it. Web browsers are notorious for doing this - if we visit a website and the site takes details of the last ten sites we visited beforehand, along with our OS version, our allocated IP address and any personal identifiers, is that over-reaching by the site or lax supidity on our part?

It's a major task to try and stay on top of what's broadcast by our technologies, especially when no-one is accountable to us as users. No-one says to us: "We're thinking of issuing products with this insanely great technology called Bluetooth, and we're thinking it's too much effort to encrypt the transmissions - is that OK with you?" And even if they did, how many of us would know exactly how to answer? Insiders know immediately what the answer would be...

IMHO, at the end of the day ethics is the big problem. Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD.

Ancientbr IT

Re: This

The sad thing is that Apple and Microsoft are not exceptions. Every multi-billion dollar corporation I've worked for in the last 16 years has posted so-called mission statements or principles of practice prominently in the workplace, and deliberately and calculatedly violated every single one of them every single day.

An example: "We do not expect you to work more than eight hours in one day". One of my former colleagues went on vacation to Mexico with his family. His supervisor insisted that he take a laptop with him, specifically configured by IT to have a VPN, and every day of his holiday he was expected to phone in and do at least two hours of work. This was not an isolated incident. It happened in all departments at all levels and was considered "normal", despite the public profession to the contrary.

Ancientbr IT

Re: WTF?

I don't know who instilled your moral sense in you but whoever it was did a lousy job...

Ancientbr IT

Re: WTF?

Not a good analogy. Everyone has eyes (most of them working) but not everyone has the equipment and knowledge to pick up a wi-fi signal, so it's an active not passive process. There's a HUGE difference.

Ancientbr IT

Re: WTF?

Scanners are a specialised piece of equipment whose sole purpose is to intercept broadcasts - hardy anyone has one, and so there IS an expectation of privacy.

Ancientbr IT

Re: Single rogue element....

"Overhearing" implies a passive action - you just happened to be passing by and you "overheard" a conversation. This is true of human hearing. It's unavoidable unless you stick your fingers in your ears.

But in this case, "overhearing" is an active process akin to eavesdropping - you're using a piece of equipment and actively searching out signals. The idea that it's accidental is about as valid as the idea that if you leave your doors unlocked, anyone who walks into your home has done so because you "invited" them to by not locking your doors.

Too often now we hear the same mantra: no-one should expect privacy. It seems we also shouldn't expect integrity, honesty and accountability.

Educating Rory: Are BBC reporters unteachable?

Ancientbr IT

Re: I haven't heard any comment from any teachers

I don't know that I'd agree that you can't do much with a little knowledge of programming - especially if you've been taught the basics of Office software (and/or others).

If you've played with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, OutLook, etc., you must know about the IDE that comes with all of those applications (and their open source counterparts) and how you can program any of them to do all sorts of things.

One of my contracts (as a Technical Writer in a regulated environment in the US) involved writing VB code such that any MS Word document based on my templates was capable of checking itself on being opened to make sure it contained certain minimally-required features and flagging any identified problems as well as creating a user-specific log file of those issues.

I devised the algorithms necessary to undertake a variety of tasks (some of them with fuzzy logic) and coded, tested, debugged, implemented and documented everything. Great fun to do and immensely satisfying.

Ancientbr IT

Re: "mathematics is just another language"

Hmmm. Art and Design benefit from an understanding of mathematics - as does Music (the two are intertwined so closely - is that why you didn't include it in your list?). If you look below the surface, you'll find maths in just about every single specialty, one way or another.