* Posts by Charles Manning

3509 publicly visible posts • joined 26 Jun 2007

Australia needs a technology industry policy debate

Charles Manning

The best policies

1) Don't interfere.

2) Just stand back and let us do what we know how to do.

All you really need to do to screw something up is make it into a government programme.

GNU want (another) free AI package release? Yes. But we should train this puppy

Charles Manning

The fact that only companies and labs have access ... DANGER DANGER

Fact??? Fact??? Bollocks!

This is just "there's a corporate crook under every bed" FUD.

NNs have been around since granny was a girl (well at least since I did post grad stuff using NNs in the 1980s).

They're simple as anything to program. Any vaguely competent programmer can write a NN engine.

This is certainly not a technology where the common man is locked out.

What's next? FBI telling us to turn iPhones into pocket spy bugs? It'll happen, says Apple exec

Charles Manning

Re: Could

You'd need to hack more than the codebase.

You'd also have to make edits...

And push them back into Apple...

And make sure it was not spotted.....

And make sure that Apple built, released and updated those versions.

The only way you could really accomplish this is with an inside job:

... And keeping it quiet.

Obama puts down his encrypted phone long enough to tell us: Knock it off with the encryption

Charles Manning

Re: Go to Hell, Mr. President

One thing he has done is piss in Hillary's soup.

A lot of people (blacks in particular) are saying they're voting Hillary because she's a continuation of Obama's policies.

Now those people have to make a choice:

* Believe Obama and all the threats of terrorism etc - in which case they must be concerned about Hillary's server in a bathroom.

* Believe Hillary is fine, in which case they must dismiss Obama as a fearmonger.

Reprogrammble routers axed by TP-Link as FCC bans custom firmware

Charles Manning

Re: But it's my router, I've bought it

A better analogy would be:

"But it's my car, I bought it. I should be able to drive it however I like."

Any device that talks on a shared spectrum or to other equipment (eg. modems, wired phones, stuff you connect to the power, water, waste water or other utilities) needs to operate properly or things will break.

Charles Manning

Not quite

"Of course, the manufacturer could design its hardware in a way that would stop user-installed firmware from changing the frequencies used by the radio electronics"

There is really no way to control this at the actual RF/transmitter level since the bands that are used cannot be separated at reasonable cost.

What they could do easily is use some one-time-programmed bytes (eg. the serial number or a country code) to control what channels the fw can select.

Is there anything left to ask Bill Gates? (Other than gissus a million?)

Charles Manning


Dear MS

Please leave the self driving cars to Google.

Microsoft wants to lock everyone into its store via universal Windows apps, says game kingpin

Charles Manning

How to run a monopoly 101

The trick with a walled garden monopoly is to think of it like catching hogs in a hog trap or fish in a net. You put up the walls/slam shut the game/ pull in the net when the prey are inside - not when they've left.

If Microsoft had put in a proper store in 2000 or so, they could have improved user experience. It would have been a trusted place to get software and would have been a walled garden of at least some value. Much better than downloading dodgy looking binaries packed with malware off sourceforge etc.

Instead they've only done a half-arsed job and are now considering "doing it right" after they've blown their chance to do it properly.

Bah Microsoft. Can't even screw up properly!

Electrified bird bum bomb shuts down US nuclear power plant

Charles Manning

Re: Shouldn't there be something to prevent this?

There's lots to prevent this...

There is no way a long stripe of bird shit falling between two conductors cause have caused this:

1) It would have had to fall perfectly parallel to the ground to hit both conductors at the same time.

2) The energy unleashed would have exploded the shitbomb causing it to be no longer conductive.

3) Even if exploding the shitbomb blew the safety relays, these are automatically re-tried and the power would have flowed again in a second or so.

So it was not between conductors.

The only place a problem like this can occur is if the shitbomb hits an insulator. That way it gets some mechanical integrity and can last through the hammering long enough to cause the protection mechanism to fire multiple times (typically three or so).

On massive power lines the insulators must be cleaned often to get rid of bird shit. Even if not highly conductive, highly resistive losses still add up when you're dealing with 500kV or so.

Charles Manning

Nothing new... move along...

This is an age old problem....

The age old solution (at least back to the 1980s when I was in the power industry) has been using helicopters to wash the insulators while they're live:


Charles Manning

"In a bizarre turns of events..."

C'mon El Reg... getting slack... you missed a pun.

Surely the opening line should be:" In a buzzard turns of events...".

Google robo-car backs into bendy-bus in California

Charles Manning

Automation is like that

The "expected" gets handled well.

The "expected unexpected" gets handled pretty well too.

It is the "unexpected unexpected" where automation fails.

Part of the reason the meatsack got it wrong is that mixing a meatsack and autonomous control creates some interesting opportunities for confusion. If the meatsack thinks the controller will handle the situation Ok he is likely to just leave it be. It is only afterwards they he finds he was wrong.

The biggest issue with all this is that the "control surface" gets confused. This is pretty much exactly what caused the AF447 crash:

Three pilots in the cockpit of which one was yanking back on the stick because he knew that Airbuses don't stall and will handle the stall for you. However stall handling was disengaged.

Three pilots in the cockpit as it slowly fell in a deep stall from 28k ft to 0 ft with the stall alarm yelling "stall stall.... stall stall..." until it got tired. But we all know Airbuses don't stall.... so just ignore it.

All they needed do was push the yoke 6 inches forward and 288 people would not have died. In a manual plane they would have tried to handle the stall, but in this case they did not.

Same thing's going to happen with autonomous vehicles (and did).

Computers abort SpaceX Falcon 9 launch

Charles Manning

Re: No more holds for boats downrange


It wasn't in their direction. It was surely going upwards - way over them.

Standing desks have no effect on productivity, boffins find

Charles Manning

Use poles...

If they used poles instead of desks you could have the employees up on a stage in short pants and make a secondary income selling drinks to the audience.

Science contest to get girls interested in STEM awards first prize to ... a boy

Charles Manning

Here in NZ...

a male friend of mine was a nurse. He ended up being assigned to a mental hospital.

Whenever they had a violent person that the females didn't want to deal with he had to do the job.

He ended up leaving after he was beaten and hospitalised. The only reason that happened was because he didn't fight back. If he had the patient would have had the broken bones.

So even in this lovely egalitarian world, we still have the "Aaaaagh Spider!" problem. We're equal tough girls until we feel we need a man to do something nasty.

Competition? No way! AT&T says it will sue to keep Google Fiber out of Louisville, Kentucky

Charles Manning

Oh the Irony!

Many of the people bleating here when competition serves them well and brings them better, faster, cheaper stuff are the same people that bitch like hell when competition comes to their area of business.

Mexican comes to town and give us cheaper lawn care and tomatoes... great.

Fibre coming to town $20/month less than anything on offer.... great.

People using cloud instead of BOFHs... bad.

Job being outsourced to India ..... bad.

Personally I'm pro competition in our industry too. It helps weed out the idiots of which there are far too many in our midst.

Humans – 1 Robots – 0: Mercedes deautomates production lines

Charles Manning

One word


Yelp minimum wage row shines spotlight on … broke, fired employee

Charles Manning

Re: Trump?

First off, let me get one thing clear: I don't support Trump or Obama. I don't live in the USA and it is almost comical watching the US primaries unfold.

But what is even more fun is watching the Trump haters go into completely irrational logical melt-down.

Somehow Lefties think Trump is so powerful that he can come back from the future (when they are so sure he wont be Prez anyway because Clinton will evade the FBI or Bernies's "give everyone free stuff" campaign is going to work) and come make executive orders that made Ms Whiny Pants poorer now.

If Trump really has powers to time travel and be prez when he isn't (and supposedly isn't going to be) then yes, he should be stopped. OR maybe someone paranoid enough to think that should be asking to have their meds strengthened.

But let's face is Ms Whiny Pants is really in this predicament because she has made bad choices, does not take responsibility for those choices and thinks the world at large should bail her out. Sounds like a Bernie voter in the making.

Making everything free and high minimum wages just subsidises bad choice and bad behaviours. It makes the problem worse, not better. It never solves the problem.

Give people $50/hr minimum wage and all the shitty apartments will become more expensive as will all goods and services and the minimum wage will no longer be enough and will have to get jacked up again. The only people that will get rich from this are the landlords.

Charles Manning

Re: Trump?

I'm not saying I think any prez should interfere.

What I am saying is that prematurely blaming Trump when he isn't even in office is stupid. Blaming Obama would make more sense, but that's not to say I think he should interfere.

To the best of my knowledge there is no time machine that Trump can use to fly back from the future to cause current woes.

As for Ms whiny pants....why does she choose to live in expensive SF area when she only has the capability to earn a paltry $1500? Perhaps she should move to somewhere where someone that generates as little value as she does can afford to live.

If we give people like her handouts then it can only come from one place: jacking up national debt and robbing unborn children even worse than now. A kid born today in the US owes about USD60k (doubled under Obama) before (s)he has a first suck on a breast.

Live within your means... not just the entitled little Ms, but also governments and nations.

Charles Manning


Blaming Trump when this is all happening on Obama's watch is a bit one-eyed surely?

Surprise! British phone wins Best Product at Mobile World Congress

Charles Manning

Well that puts to bed the eternal question....

Can Brits design anything that doesn't leak oil?

Clearly they can.

Linux lads lambast sorry state of Skype service

Charles Manning

Microsoft promised to keep supporting Skyope for Linux

Well fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, no three, .... no a bajillion times - shame on me.

Microsoft never lives up to these promises.

Anyone that believes a Microsoft promise is either naive or a complete idiot - take your pick.

Google human-like robot brushes off beating by puny human – this is how Skynet starts

Charles Manning

Re: #Error 2035

It has started....

Our robotic overloads are suppressing the media.

That's always the first step. Next they'll take away our guns.

NASA stormed by 18,000 wannabe 'nauts

Charles Manning

Given NASA's current lack of space capability....

Maybe they could print out the applications, climb up and see how high they can get.

The paperless office? Don’t talk sheet

Charles Manning

Re: Paperless. Ah, I wish

We can have paperless offices when we agree on one thing:

Will it be A4 or US Letter?

Top new IoT foundation (yeah, another one) to develop open standards

Charles Manning

Standards are great

That's why there are so many of them..

Any vendor-based standards miss the whole point of the "internet" bit of Internet of Tat.

We have anyone's browsers being able to access websites on anyone's servers only because of an RFC-based internet.

If IoT doesn't do that then it willl be worse than we expect it to be.

Q: How many guns to arm nine coachloads of terrorists?

Charles Manning

Mine too....

I was a guard commander one night in Pretoria, South Africa, when there was some gunfire outside that I needed to investigate.

As commander I did not have a weapon assigned to me, so I took one off the rack. I had a choice of an R1/FAL (pretty much == SLR) in 7.62x51, an R4 (South African copy of a Galil in 5.56) or an Uzi 9mm.

I grabbed the R1.

Since then my centrefire rifle of choice has been .308.

Solution to tech bros' disgust of SF homeless people launched

Charles Manning

Can we jailbreak it?

Palm out fanbois, gansta pants wearers or anyone else I feel grumpy about that day.

Brits unveil 'revolutionary' hydrogen-powered car

Charles Manning

Not hydrogen powered, just hydrogen storage

All talk of supercapacitor powered, battery powered or hydrogen powered cars misses the point.

None of these is fuel. The supercap, battery or hydrogen are just energy storage mediums and it would be as silly as saying that your petrol tank powered car is powered by the petrol tank. All we need is better petrol tanks.

Hydrogen is either achieved by electrolysis (very inefficient process from leccy) or by breaking down hydrocarbons (wasting a whole lot of the energy in the hydrocarbons). Both are inefficient.

Nor are the hydrogen combustion outputs just water. If burned, the hydrogen combustion still produces lots of yummy NOx by-products thanks to all the N in the air.

Fuel cells are incredibly inefficient too - lots of waste heat.

So where does all this leccy come from considering the NIMBYs don't want more power stations and all Western countries are right on the edge of their power generation capacity. Nor do they want huge rebuilds of the leccy grids that would be required to bring the extra power to home charging points.

Charles Manning

Ugly, no.

This is just attempt to do a "retro car". Like VW's new beetle, Fiat's new 600, ...

This is just the Brits' new Reliant Robin.

Patch ASAP: Tons of Linux apps can be hijacked by evil DNS servers, man-in-the-middle miscreants

Charles Manning

OSX and iOS too surely

People are quick to throw rocks at Linux for bugs in GNU libs etc, but surely these also exist in OSX/iOS which also use lots of GNUery through them.

Charles Manning


I've never seen an alloca() usage that looked safe.

Nor its evil twin of using a function argument as an array size:

void foo(int n)


int array[n];

do sopme stuff with an n-size array.


That especially true of the domain I work in: embedded systems.

How to build a plane that never needs to land

Charles Manning

Re: Much more useful when batteries improve

The e-car problem won't be solved by batteries alone.

Something's gotta charge those batteries. Most western countries are at the limits of their generation capacity with the roll out of new power stations getting harder and harder. SImilarly, power grids and reticulation are creaky and cannot take more load.

It's all Ok while e-cars are just a few overpriced Teslas etc, but a significant shift to e-cars (20% or more) is going to need massive upgrades to generation and power distribution.

Earthquake-sensing smartphone app fires off early alerts of disaster

Charles Manning

I really can't see how this adds value in places like California with the current seismic network with hundreds of very, very sensitive sensors.

Earthquakes sometimes fo give some warning in that P waves travel faster than the S waves. The S waves cause the damage, so if the source is far enough away you get some warning by detecting and reacting to the P waves.

We just had a 5.7 here in Christchurch. No real damage. No warning either and no fancy app would have given us warning either.

Computer Science grads still finding it hard to get a job

Charles Manning

maths... bah!

I've been in this game for over 30 years. Hardly ever used maths.

I've done some trig etc (as part of doing GPS guidance etc), but I've never some anything that has needed calculus or set theory etc.

At best maths is a filter. It is a traditional subject that requires some abstract reasoning. If you can do maths then you might be able to be a programmer.

Charles Manning

It aint the skills stupid...

Anyone who hires grads on skills is shooting themselves in the foot. Many of those skills will be worthless in 5 years, so you really need people who can commit to a career of lifetime learning. Can't learn - go pick another industry, you don't belong here.

I don't even think universities should try to teach people how to think or learn. Kids are natural thinkers and learners until they get it drummed out of them at school/uni. Those that do well at uni are those that soak up the subject matter and regurgitate on demand. That is not real learning.

At best university serves as a filter to weed out some. It's still a large-hole mesh though and making it through the uni filter is no guarantee of competence.

Charles Manning

Degrees these days....

... or in the past for that matter are no guarantee of competence. It takes way more than a degree to be any use as a programmer.

That's why employers have always looked for a proven track record.

I'm now a consultant, but when I was employed I was part of the company interviewing team for about 7 years, hiring grads through to experienced people.

I never really looked at grades. I really didn't care what the person felt they had learned in university either. University is contrived and is a very poor indicator of your effectiveness as an employee - nobody really works like that. Exams are pretty pointless too for the same reason.

What I tried to judge was whether the person was a self motivated learner and whether they had the humility to be able to be directed effectively. Those mattered more than anything else.

So biggies for me:

1) Did you do any internships? What did you learn there? If you just went on vacation for your summers you're useless to me.

2) Did you contribute to any open source projects? Got a github account? Show me.

3) Does the candidate show that they are learning by themselves beyond what they are spoon fed at university.

I also listen to the words people use. Passive talk is a bad sign. It shows defeatist attitudes. More active words show someone with the tenacity to figure out a problem, debug stuff and take responsibility for their code and their lives:

"I'm hoping somebody will give me a job." - passive loser talk.

"I'm looking for a job." - active talk.

"Something happened and my code stopped working." - err no buddy your code broke because you put a bug in there. Loser.

"I screwed something up and we tried three different ways to fix it" - taking responsibility and tenacity.

"They didn't teach us xxx". Loser talk.

"I used university as a learning opportunity but I also taught myself LISP because it looked interesting". You're hired even though I hate LISP.

I even once had a bloke bring in some code that was hassling him and we debugged it in the interview. The interviewers fixed the interviewee's bug! We hired him - damn good.

Microsoft quits giving us the silent treatment on Windows 10 updates

Charles Manning

Maybe we should start charging them rent

Dear Microsoft

I bought a computer. I also bought a licence to use your software.

However you are now forcing extra files into my computer under the guise of upgrades. These are not files that I was expecting to have to store for you and they are cluttering up my hard disk.

Surely Microsoft has many servers on which you could store your surplus files.

If, however, you persist in storing your files on my computer, I shall have to charge you a nominal storage fee of $10 per file and $10 per megabyte.

Yours sincerely

P. C. Owner

Ballmer schools SatNad on Microsoft's mobile strategy: You need one

Charles Manning

Ballmer's mobile strategies.

1) Take a well known albeit struggling company with a good brand (Nokia).

2) Infect it.

3) Buy it.

4) Break it.

5) Get bored throw the junk on the floor.

6) Cash out and bail.

I suppose that was better than their Zune strategy:

1) Brown

2) Squirt

Microsoft started in the phone game in 2000/2001. They've been in this game twice as long as Apple or Google. Remeber Ballmer laughing about iphone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eywi0h_Y5_U

And they still haven't got a strategy.

Verizon!–Yahoo! takeover! inches! ahead!

Charles Manning


Verizon AOL and Yahoo all together under one umbrella is just too much to comprehend. Just needs geocities to round it out completely.

My brain started making 1200 baud dial-up noises.

Layoffs! Lawsuits! Losses! ... Yahoo! is! in! an! L! of! a! mess!

Charles Manning

""Mayer was the Vice President of Google Product Search until the end of 2010, when she was demoted..."

Coincidentally.... having been the girlfriend of Google's Larry Page - a fact recently sanitised off her Wikipedia page.

Microsoft sinks to new depths with underwater data centre experiment

Charles Manning

It doesn't have to last long.

It just has to last long enough to cause buzz/hype at the next shareholders' meeting. After that nobody cares...

Charles Manning

You couldn't make this shit up!

Someone watched Gold Member a few too many times.

US government's $6bn super firewall doesn't even monitor web traffic

Charles Manning

Dear Sir/Madam

We are fascinated by this curious concept called "cheaper".

Can we get you and your consulting team at the standard rate of $500/person/hour + expenses to explain it to us? How many years do you think it will need to describe this idea adequately?

Yours sincerely

Congressional Procurement Office

Charles Manning

Re: governments and ANY projects


I've just been looking at the F22 and F35 tragedies. 10% of the national debt pissed against the wall making two useless generations of planes. The only thing achieved was spending vast amounts of money, with each state making sure they get a good slosh of the gravy.

App for homeless says walking on water is the way to reach services

Charles Manning

Re: It is just me?

That's the sort of shit you get when you make taking care of people a government program.

After many years and 1.2-odd trillion dollars, the F35 flies worse than the F16 which was designed in the age of the slide rule.

No surprises then that a government program that is supposed to help people gives drowns them instead.

No doubt the suicide prevention app sends people to the Sydney Harbour bridge.

State Department finds 22 classified emails in Hillary’s server, denies wrongdoing

Charles Manning

Re: "wasn't at the time".

To say that the emails contained info that wasn't classified at the time is surely disingenuous for at least the following reasons:

1) Deals that the State Secretary is making are often inherently not-yet-classified because the deal is the info itself. Expecting that yet-to-be generated info should have been classified is ridiculous. That is the whole point of controlled email services: you don't always know what is classified/sensitive at the time it is generated so you apply the precautionary principle: treat it all as sensitive classified info until you have reason to declassify it.

I couldn't get away with the same rationality releasing buggy code: "oh well, I didn't know it had a bug at the time.". No, I have to treat all code as buggy until I test the hell out of it, including getting it tested by others, and "prove" that it is solid before I ship it.

2) So 22 out of 1000 emails were eventually classified and ended up on an unsecure server. She still leaked the classified info onto an insecure server whether she did it before or after it was classified.

3) Apart from the lack of security, the other thing that is being questioned is her lack of judgement. After all this time in high-flying politics, she determined that those 22 documents were not sensitive enough to be treated with caution. Clearly they were sensitive enough if the info was later classified. She clearly lacks the "nose" for what is sensitive and what is not. Do you really want a Prez like that?

Cloud growth? Take a number, Microsoft. Two engines have stalled

Charles Manning

Two engines have stalled....

out of how many?

From what I understand, Microsoft really only has two engines and they are mutually linked:

Office and Windows

People only use Windows because that's what Office runs on and people continue to use Office because that is what runs on Windows.

Microsoft seriously pissed off the customers when they did the ribbon thing to Office. It was only the dual momentum of Office & Windows that kept them through that.

Now they're doing the same, just worse, with Windows 10 and the only reason they keep going is because of Office.

It can't last forever. Eventually enough people will use Linux in their private lives to become confident and Windows will eventually die in corporate environments.

Unfortunately that won't be this year. Likely not even this decade.

Land Rover Defender dies: Production finally halted by EU rules

Charles Manning

Cmon... a Discovry is not a LandRover

The last LandRover was a Series 2a... Series 3 at a stretch.

If it has power steering it isn't a Landie

If it has coil springs it is not a Landie

If you can still feel your kidneys after 50 miles it yoe weren't in a Landie.

If it holds its oil after 500 miles it isn't a Landie.

If it has air conditioning it isn't a Landie.

You've seen things people wouldn't believe – so tell us your programming horrors

Charles Manning

Re: Nothing really nasty, but..

A university gf of mine was mad about mickey mouse.... well maybe just mad.

She wrote a fortran program using the variables mickey, minney, goofie, etc.