* Posts by Ed_UK

183 publicly visible posts • joined 29 Jun 2012


Roses are red, are you single, we wonder? 'Cos this moth-brain AI can read your phone number


Cannot compare

I'm failing to see how these statements are comparable:

"can apparently discern handwritten digits with 75 per cent to 85 per cent accuracy, given 15 to 20 training samples of each number."


" That's not bad considering it takes thousands of training examples for more traditional neural networks to achieve 99 per cent accuracy."

To make a fair comparison, I'd need to see what the moth-model does after thousands of examples. Also, what does the traditional NN do after 15 to 20 training samples?

Home taping revisited: A mic in each hand, pointing at speakers


Re: "home-pirating CDs never became a big thing"

"Strangely the tape deck has stopped playing now. I suspect a belt has perished"

In the past, I've bought replacement belts from Maplin or similar. They were really cheap (<£1) but a quick look at Maplin's site now puts them at £6 to £8 a pop, which seems exorbitant for a glorified rubber band. Prolly cheaper elsewhere.

Getty load of this: Google to kill off 'View image' button in search


Re: Bad bargaining

"Oh, and as a note to journalists and blog writers, stop putting pointless stock photos at the top of your stories."

Yes, upvoted! I wonder how much dosh the BBC pisses away in order to slather useless stock images into every article. Presumably they have an agreement with Getty & AP to use a certain number of stock photos per week/day/article (speculation, not based on any research).

E.g. article on nutrition - must have pictures of food, in case readers don't know what it looks like.

Article on education - must have pic of children in classroom.

Article on age-related issue - include pic of some old people, in case we don't know what they look like.

Article on cyber-crime - must have stock pic of weird corridor lit with green light, 'cos that's what computers look like, innit!

Forget cyber crims, it's time to start worrying about GPS jammers – UK.gov report


Re: Well timestamps at a µs level...

"MSF is of course deceased"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_from_NPL_(MSF) says it's still up. Unfortunately, I no longer have my old CR100 receiver to listen for myself. Not many radios tune down to 60kHz these days.

Nokia 8: As pure as the driven Android - it's a classy return


Re: Live Bokeh

" For cameras with mechanical shutters, the shape of this reflects the symmetry of the shutter - often hexagonal."

No, you're thinking of the flare from bright lights, which is usually polygonal due to the shape of the mutlibladed iris. The shutter doesn't come into it.

Bokeh is the 'pleasingness' of the out-of-focus parts of the image. The shape of the iris can affect this, as can the type of optical arrangement.

Nationwide UK web bank and app take unscheduled nap


“currently experiencing a technical issue”

Anybody who utters this as an explanation deserves a swift kick in the blx. We used to get it at work now and then from the techies who ought to know better. PLEASE just say "The cleaner accidentally unplugged the mail server" or "The web computer stopped working" or whatever. Anything other than that utterly useless "technical issue" shyte. Thanks

Boffin wins (Ig) Nobel prize asking if cats can be liquid


Re: Cats are neither a solid nor a liquid.

"Can you drink a cat? No therefore it is solid."

Easily fixed:

Will It Blend? -cat? - YouTube


Mazda and Toyota join forces on Linux-based connected car platform


Re: 3 years of supported apps?

"Tactile buttons can be operated by feel without looking away from the road; touchscreens, not so much. Keep them out of the car if you want me to consider it."

Yes - exactly this! All this touchscreen bollocks in cars should be banned for exactly the same reason that mobile 'phones are banned. Non-tactile means having to take eyes off the road for some seconds of peering, poking and swiping.

Conversely, the big, fat control knob in Audi/BMW (Volvo & Merc?) had too many levels of nested menus to navigate, but at least they're tactile.

Maybe somewhere in between? Give us MORE BUTTONS, not fewer.

In detail: How we are all pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered – by online biz all day


"Living and non-living things keep exchanging properties."

Aha! The Third Policeman (Flann O'Brien) re bicycles.

Ex-MI5 boss: People ask, why didn't you follow all these people ... on your radar?


Re: Not the Internet?


I don't believe the printer includes the date, time or location.

Apparently, these days, they do... :-O (as well as serial no.)



They have included date & time for many years.


"We've found that the dots from at least one line of printers encode the date and time your document was printed, as well as the serial number of the printer," said EFF Staff Technologist Seth David Schoen.

Example of cracking the code:


How Ford has slammed the door on Silicon Valley's autonomous vehicles drive


"Car controls (knobs, sticks, paddles etc) can be operated by touch alone - there is no reason to take your eyes off the road. "

Good point. A touchscreen offers no tactile feedback, (unless haptic) so you have to take your eyes off the road and look where you're poking.

Being in the market for a replacement car, I have visited several forecourts recently. I have walked away in disgust at being offered an infotainment panel which is _wholly_ touchscreen-operated. That's Ford and Toyota off my shortlist, possibly Honda too. The VAG offerings (that I've seen so far) at least have knobs to twiddle.

How come it's illegal to fiddle with a 'phone while driving, but magically ok to faff about with a car's touchscreen?

Hutchison's 3UK and Google push 3.5 GHz on both sides of the pond


Re: 3.5GHz

"The 3.5GHz band is only good for open plan office Femto cells or fixed outdoor aerials using "nearly" line of sight."

Good points, having the backing of reality. I mentioned femtocells in another post. Nice that Cisco refers to a femtocell access point as a FAP.

Lucent and Nortel were building wireless local loop (WLL) fixed radio at 3.5GHz back in the late 1990s.


Re: 3.5GHz

"Were fibre can't be justified ..."

That's people who turn into fibre on a full moon?


Re: 3.5GHz

"If it was really about demand, then increasing capacity and speed by adding more base stations, having smaller cells etc."

Indeed. That's why the femtocell makers are getting tooled up for 3.5GHz.

Yahoo! boo! hoo! hoo!: Verizon! hits! brakes! on! $4.8bn! biz! gobble!


"Dear Yahoo user"

Even genuine corporate emails are crafted to look like phishing attempts - pretty much in line with expectations.

Dear Yahoo management,

I would like to open a few Yahoo dropbox accounts for use with my spamming campaigns. Please ensure that your abuse@ account is disabled and you make it as awkward as possible to report any violations. Oh, you did that years ago? Great. Thanks.

Prison librarian swaps books for bars after dark-web gun buy caper


"Avenue Road?

Thats gotta cause some delivery problems!"

Nah - never had a problem with Street Lane in Leeds.

Tobacco giant predicts the end of smoking. Panic ensues


Re: I know what's next...

"Beer! That's next on the list. (Oh how I hope I'm wrong)."

NO! Haven't you heard of passive drinking? Think of the childers.

No super-kinky web smut please, we're British


"Theresa May has already claimed her $deity$ is her guiding force in social legislation. Her father was an Anglican cleric. She has already announced that faith schools will in future be allowed to select all their pupils by their family's religious observance. "

This is in a country where most schools are paid for out of general taxation, and where successive governments boast of "no selection in our schools." Funny that when a school denies a place to a child, on solely on the grounds of whichever flavour of deity the parents (claim to) believe in, the government smiles on approvingly.

In any other field, e.g. job or college application, such blatant religious discrimination would have you up in court. In publically-owned schools, it's somehow ok.

Confirmed: UK police forces own IMSI grabbers, but keeping schtum on use

Black Helicopters

Stingray Manual

Psst - wanna see what the super-secret Stingray manual looks like?



Microsoft paid me $650 to scrub Windows 10 from my grandpa's PC, says man


Re: Compensation department

I'm just waiting for the first call...

<Indian accent> "Hello, I'm calling from the Windows 10 Compensation Department. Please give me your bank details so I can send you the compensation."

Oh no - what have I said? Do scammers read El Reg?

USBee stings air-gapped PCs: Wirelessly leak secrets with a file write


"Call us when someone can jump an air gap or escape a TEMPEST room without installing anything first."

So, you never saw the film Scanners?

Iraqi government finally bans debunked bomb-finding dowsing rods


"I've seen dowsing work, but that was for water dowsing shallow wells"

Well, there's a cool million bucks from James Randi waiting for someone. Funnily, it has remained unclaimed all these years.

VW finds US$15 BEEELION under the couch to pay off US regulators


"This does not address the root problem of emissions regulations that are not achievable in the real world with current technology. Car manufacturers have a choice of cheating the test or breaking the laws of physics."

Yes - that's why I'm waiting with interest to see what clever software solution they come up with. I'm assuming they'd tried pretty hard to beat the competition (on performance vs consumption vs emissions) by legal means before resorting to cheating.

What will they pull out of the hat that they couldn't manage before? So far, I've had two letters from them to say the new software will be ready soon for my 2.0 litre lump. I expect those softies are under quite a bit of management pressure and I wish them well.

Tesco Mobile does what? Hahahahahahaha. Sorry customers


Re: Give him credit

"At least he didn't say 'leverage our customer experience improvement expertise'"

I think you failed to grasp the underlying metaphor. Once they've enlarged the paradigm and internalised the footprint, the delight will be a quantum leap off the roadmap while they penetrate the customer. While leveraging the goal, keeping both eyes on the triple-play scenario will become readily attainable.

It's the sort of talk which gives 'talking bollocks' a bad name.

(With a nod to an esteemed former colleague and probably Mr. Unwin).

Get outta here, officer, you don't need a warrant to track people by their phones – appeals court


What about StingRay?

We have read here how use of base-station simulators like StingRay to track a suspect's mobile now require a warrant (depending on jurisdiction). E.g.-


"California has passed a law requiring police to obtain a warrant before searching phones, tablets, and other electronic devices, [...]

This even includes Stingray devices ..."

Does this new ruling that a warrant is _not_ required overturn part of the California ruling?

Also http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/09/04/stingray_stung_fbi_told_get_a_warrant/

"The US Department of Justice has moved to quell the ongoing row over the use of IMSI-catchers like Stingray, with a new policy that requires a warrant before they're deployed."

I'm an engineer, not a lawyer, but this interests me.

Got a Fitbit? Thought you were achieving your goals? Better read this


"...either the Fitbit was wrong or he had a medical problem causing brachycardia, because the only person that should have a heart rate of 50 in the middle of the day is an endurance athlete..."

Ah - my special moment, at last! My resting pulse is usually below 50, and rarely under 40. That's measured manually, against a watch. I do regular cardio training but I think it's mostly genetic. It has raised the odd eyebrow among medics and blood donation peeps but nobody seemed worried.

I agree with your point though. "you shouldn't use it to accurately measure your heartrate"

Like many measuring instruments, it's far more useful for making relative measurements, rather than absolute ones.

My suggestion: Don't waste dosh on wrist-worn gimmicky tat, get off your arse and do some exercise. Just don't be daft about it.

At last: Ordnance Survey's map wizardry goes live


Re: Best of British

"...Bill Bryson'..extolling the virtues of OS mapping, and the level of detail that they go to. Words to the effect of...you can go and sit on a rock in the middle of nowhere, open up an OS map, and see a depiction of the very rock that your posterior is perched upon."

Well remembered! I like BB's turn of phrase. I think it was something like "...the spot where my buttocks were deployed."

Hubble spies supermassive black hole in surprising spot


"How do we know that Dark Matter is needed to explain the gravitational effects that we observe, as opposed to simply not having accurately estimated the mass of the matter we are observing ?"


"How can we be so certain that we aren't simply under-estimating the mass of the matter we can see ?"

Good questions. I think you just about touched on the answer; it's not just the rotational speed, but the _distribution_ of orbital speed across the galaxy's disc. The speed ought to roll off as you get away from the centre of (visible) mass but it doesn't. Diagram here:


US chap sharpens paradigm-busting scissors


Ah, offset snips

Like these: http://www.toolstation.com/search?searchstr=20727%2072862

German lodges todger in 13 steel rings


Re: Pedant Alert


"...with no less than 13..."

It's 'fewer', not 'less'. Not asking a lot; somebody who writes for a living really ought to know this.



Having carried this 'rule' in my head for decades, I was somewhat surprised when the lingo experts on BBC Radio 4 debunked it as a bit of 'hypercorrection*.' They said that the use of 'less' to denote quantity OR count has a long and valid history.

*Hypercorrect = over-pedantic application of rules which are actually wrong. E.g, insisting that "octopi" is the plural of "octopus" when it isn't.

Being a pedant is one thing, but being a WRONG pedant is really undesirable.

SEC: Qualcomm hired relatives of Chinese officials to seal biz deals


Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

When I worked at a US-based telecoms company, there was mandatory training in what was permitted and what wasn't. Curiously, the main 'takeaways' from the course were:

1. You must not bribe any government official

2. Any 'sweeteners' paid must be properly accounted for in the books. E.g. in Saudi, where backhanders are a normal part of doing business.

I expected to hear that any bribes of any kind (given or received) were verboten, but I didn't spot it.

Then there was the stuff about non-finanacial gifts and corporate hospitality and avoiding conflicts of interest (real or apparent). Should I declare my calendar from a supplier?

Reinvented ransomware shifts from pwning PC to wrecking websites


Re: "Victims...

@ Steven Roper

"Write your own code you lazy bastards. Then you know exactly what does what and where it's supposed to go. I can set up an easily maintainable small-business ecommerce website with protection against SQL-injection and XSS attacks, full CMS, ..."

Steven, I'd like to learn how to do some of this stuff for myself but my qualifications are in electronics, not software. Can you suggest some pointers for getting started, please? I realise that this may be too ambitious a goal, but I read these pages to further my knowledge. Thanks.

Go phish your own staff: Dev builds open-source fool-testing tool


Re: Oh my fscking gawd/ess ...

"Yes, some corporations are still primarily composed of people. Some bright at certain things, and not so bright at other things"

I think that attitude is part of the problem - calling people "less bright" just because they don't yet know what you know. It's the punchline of several computer-related yarns. Education is needed, not silly name-calling.

I come to this site to learn stuff from the knowledgable contributors, partly to stay safe but also because the topic interests me. We need to help the people who aren't directly interested in "all that computer stuff" but would be seriously inconvenienced by an attack (compromised email, bank etc).

Philae's phinal phling: Germans made weekend spin-up attempt


Re: Scheiße! Der... Scheiße! Der... Flywheel

Upvoted for the (cryptic) Marx Brothers reference!

Lloyds Bank apologises for ClickSafe verification system snafu


Please accept an upvote for the Graham's number reference. (Although not even Zuck could realistically claim that many users).

Drunk? Need a slash? Avoid walls in Hackney


Perpetual Motion?

This product was describe on the BBC site as something which would reflect the stream back onto the perp's feet. BUT - what if the perp is wearing those treated boots? It would bounce back onto the wall, creating an oscillation. Where do I collect my Nobel Prize?

Mozilla looses Firefox 43, including Windows 64-bit variant


"Given that nobody seems able to spell the word correctly anymore ..."

While you're at it, "anymore" is not an English word, although Merkins accept it. Here, it should be two separate words. Same goes for other non-words like "everytime" etc.

Spanish village celebrates Playmobil nativity


Playmobil vs Lego


Years go, I used to read this site at work, until they brought in net-nanny-ware, which blocked it for containing nudity. IT'S LEGO FFS, put together by a non-believer. I recommend the sections on The Law from the Old Testament. Good thing we now have the Geneva Convention which trumps the rule to slaughter your PoWs, keeping the female virgins, natch.

Cartoon brings proper tech-talk to telly


Mitchell & Webb

M&W did a few sketches showing what happens when scriptwriters don't bother to consult real experts. E.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7yfLwMds5c (hospital)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alEWhMXIZUg (space ship)

Cement company in sacks out for the lads rumpus


Re: Are you guys for real?

"If you still need someone to spell it out for you, ask your daughter, wife or sister."

If you still need someone to spell it out for you, ask your wife, mistress or girlfriend. Or maybe ask all three.

[Credit: Borat]

The spy in your pocket: Researchers name data-slurping mobe apps


"Yet it was only about 7 years ago it was considered completely unacceptable to pass someone's telephone number or email address on without asking their permission first."

I lose patience with the well-intentioned numpties who insist on forwarding jokes and email hoaxes without:

1. Being arsed to edit out the previous sender's details (and probably their distribution list)

2. Thinking to use 'bcc' instead of sending my address to dozens of strangers

3. Bothering to check that the virus warning from a friend's friend's cousin who works at Microsoft is a hoax. Or that Nokia might not actually be rewarding people for doing something useless, like sending emails.

Funny how otherwise-polite people lose all sense of ettiquette when sitting at a computer.

Time Lords set for three-week battle over leap seconds


"Why don’t we adjust the length of 1 second by a tadge?"

As Brian said, it's been linked to a specific time-period of an emission by caesium. It's fair to ask why.

I imagine the Time People were looking to link the second to something which fitted several criteria:

1: It has to be really, really close to the earlier value of the second.

2: It has to be reproducible, so that other peeps can have their own accurate seconds

3: It has to be really stable; not drifting or jittering over time.

The caesium emission fits these criteria, but the rotation of the earth cares little for our precise seconds and its period even has small, random fluctuations. So, every now and then, we have the leap second to keep our clocks in agreement with the earth's rotation.

Executive summary: We now have a very accurate second but a rather inaccurate planet.

'Profoundly stupid' Dubliner's hoax call lost Intel 6,000 hours of production


Re: Common Sense

"In the US, it would have been 30 years to 250 years in the clink.

I've always wondered how that would work (and what the point of such a conviction is). Do the prisoners turn into zombies after they die which they then keep locked up?"

Only with gentle Jeebus and the invention of Christianity came the threat of torment and torture after the earth had closed over you. (Source: C.Hitchens) A little later, Islam borrowed the idea, e.g

"If you believe in only part of the Scripture, you will suffer in this life and go to hell in the next. 2:85"


Re: Wuh?!

"So that explains the F00F bug then."

FOOF - you really don't want that around.


Dioxygen difluoride is a compound of fluorine and oxygen with the molecular formula O2F2. [...]It is an extremely strong oxidant and decomposes into oxygen and fluorine even at −160 °C (113 K) [...] Dioxygen difluoride reacts with nearly every chemical it encounters – even ordinary ice – leading to its onomatopoeic nickname "FOOF"


It reacts even with gold.

Great reading for anyone with an interest in chemistry and humour:


Sony finds some loose change, flings most of it at lawyers ... the rest at staff hit by 'North Korea'


Re: All this because

"People bought Vhs rather than the superior Beta"

Sony shafted themselves by refusing to licence the Beta standard to other manufacturers. As mentioned here before, Sony are masters of incompatibilty. The non-standard memory cards for cameras springs to mind. I was suprised to see that Sony actually offered Android 'phones.

It's more than a decade now since Sony's famous rootkit got blown open but we remember.

Camera-carrying DOLPHIN SPY caught off Gaza


"Was the dolphin circumcised?"

Tricky - that would probably need four skin-divers.

Flying Spaghetti Monster spotted off Angolan coast


A Damn Sight more credible...

...than those 'pictures' of Jeebus and family appearing in bits of toast, dirty laundry, and mouldy walls.

EE recalls Power Bar phone chargers after explosion burns woman


Re: Lithium Fire

Lithium fires are for wusses. Go and read about chlorine trifluoride; that's the stuff that sets SAND on fire. Delightful notes at:




The compound [is] also a stronger oxidizing agent than oxygen itself, which also puts it into rare territory. That means that it can potentially go on to “burn” things that you would normally consider already burnt to hell and gone, and a practical consequence of that is that it’ll start roaring reactions with things like bricks and asbestos tile.


Pirate Bay founders 'cleared of copyright crimes' in Belgium


Re: You must be new here

"or didn't you know that Lawyers only care about the rate/hour ...

"Y'know, lawyers are like bridge-rectifiers. Whichever way the case goes, money always flows towards the lawyers.

Buh bye fakers? Amazon tweaks customer product reviews system


It's a sad day

Amazon (UK) have wiped out all the reviews of the must-have book Penetrating Wagner's Ring (Digaetani). It's at least the second purge they've had, depriving me of of giggles. Fortunately, Amazon.com still has some er- useful reviews of this scholarly subject: