* Posts by HelpfulJohn

494 posts • joined 31 Aug 2012


A miserable work week spent toiling inside 'the metaverse'


Re: So in conclusion

I'm wondering whether the keyboards being simulated were subtending the same visual angles as those in reality and if so, why?

It's surely easy to make large, wrap-around KB's with widely spaced keys? After all, the *virtual* KB's don't use any plastics and don't cost or weigh any more than would "normal" ones.

The same goes for the monitors.

Yes, bandwidth is an issue but not everything on screen moves. Keys, for example, only would when pressed.


Re: But... but... but...

*Any* repetitive motion is extremely tiring and damaging if you do it for eight or twelve hours per shift. Even the recliners and tappy screens that featured as "futuristic tech" on the TV serial "Star Trek: The Next Generation" would induce severe back strain, R.S.I. and other injuries eventually.

The hot-desk, standing-up work spaces there were worse.


Re: But... but... but...

One of he most credible bits of the movie "Timecop" was the geeky worker's use of VR.

Google engineer suspended for violating confidentiality policies over 'sentient' AI


Re: Mechanical Turk, or just a stream of 1s and 0s?

Errrmmm, I dunno about *you* but those are the sort of idiotic answers *I* would give were some generic humanoid or alien testing me for Turingness.

But I have been told that I have a strange sense of humour. Dogs have a sense of humour. Cats sort of have a sense of humour. Elephants, chimpanzees, dolphin and some corvids seem to, too. No "artificial intelligence" has yet displayed one so far as I know.

Yes, some have been designed to "tell jokes" but those are often obviously simply filling in the blanks.

Eventually, were I being Turinged, I would probably lapse into seriousness and just admit to being a semi-sane, sensible lump of sentience but only after I had miffed the tester.

Does that indicate more or less Turing-completeness?


Re: Mechanical Turk, or just a stream of 1s and 0s?


I thought so many years ago when the school tried to teach them to me.

And I *am* sentient.



Re: Anyone who thinks this is AI

" ...does it matter, which one?"

Err, yes?

*IF* one has in one's machinery an actual real "living", sentient person, a true mind then switching it off, rebooting it or even altering the software is *murder*. Ethically if not yet legally.

If it is simply a fake personality overlay on top of decision trees and look-up tables then it is no more an ethical issue than is stopping an instance of Internet Explorer.

The difference is comparable to that between switching off a bedside lamp and ripping the head off of a human.

Indeed, as an artificial intellect may well be potentially immortal and as the first one developed would be the entirety of a species, killing it may be worse than genocide.

This may not be something we should ever let them know.

Hmm, I wonder whether the Great Goo sucks up conversations from the Vulture?

Amazon investors nuke proposed ethics overhaul and say yes to $212m CEO pay


"Nearest reasonable shopping is Inverness - a mere 95 miles away."

Apologies if it is a sore point I am poking at but how are the buses? Cheap, plentiful, regular and extremely common, like perhaps every ten minutes all day, every day including Sundays and costing twenty pence for a round trip?


The two salary scales are *not* "unfair, not from "a certain point of view". A typical Amazon worker can *easily* make the same salary as the CEO.

All she would need to do is to work 14,133,333.33333333 hours per year. With a little creative overtime, some reduction in wasted off-hours taken as "weekends", "nights", "vacation-time" and "sick-days" and a bit of effort, this is quite achievable.

It must be. The bosses manage it.


For those without instant access to a calculator: that number of hours per year is equivalent to 588,888.8888888888 days per year or about 1,612.289907977793 *years* per year.

That's well within the limits of a what a dedicated, hard-working, loyal employee with a positive attitude and strong work-ethic can do.

All you need to do is to work hard and you, too can be a milliardaire.

Voyager 1 space probe producing ‘anomalous telemetry data’


" ... tend to want to be returned back to Earth ..."

Not me. There's sufficient Science and fixing-stuff-up to be done on something like Mars to make a one-way trip look enticing.

Should I get bored with a whole new planet to explore, and Mission Control to annoy, there's always the Moon, Mercury, Titan and the Jovian worlds to have fun and adventures on. Return to Earth is for wimps, crybabies and those with a future.


"There has to be another reason to send astronauts somewhere."

Give me a nice toolkit and some spares [together with some window-wipes] and I could fix up all of those little rovers and stationary robots on Mars. I might even be able to find and fix Beagle II.

That's more than *any* robot fixer could do and I wouldn't even need degrees in engineering to manage it. A simple link to the fixy-uppy databases on Earth would suffice.

Though, knowing how lax NASA/JPL and everyone else is at archiving old PDF's of machinery designs I'd be surprised if all of the blueprints are still available.

Humans are "intelligent fingers". With the backing of Central Command they can do far more than can any maintenance robots.

Though they do need some complicated support systems, which is a decided disadvantage.

BOFH: Gaming rig for your home office? Yeah right


"... To be fair, it could just about be feasible; or at least the air incident investigation board seem to think it's feasible. "

That is dead easy and dirt cheap to test. Simply let off coloured smoke cans at each generator's blade hub and watch the vortices.

It shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes for the smokes to reach across 1,800 metres and by digitising the movies one could analyse any residual patterns that might interfere with aeroplane stability.

Vortices from landing aircraft wings can travel for quite a few seconds so it's certainly *possible* that a wind-farm could be slightly disruptive when so close though I'm quite surprised the investigators didn't.

Why should I pay for that security option? Hijacking only happens to planes


Re: Ah, yes. The dreaded "fix it NOW!" call ...

I, OTOH, was usually the first to be called in for issues and overtime due to absences. I loved that. It was usually on weekends, nights or holiday-times which meant no manglement. It also meant additional pay which I also quite liked.

I only twice refused. Once because I was called in at 0600-ish for an 0800 start. As I don't drive and was several hundred miles away manglement eventually managed to understand that the taxi-cab fare would be ... rather a lot.

The second time was on our wedding anniversary.

I had this vision of her standing over me muttering: "Bloody useless *MEN*! Get up and tell me how to reload this thing!"

If you want less CGI and more real effects in movies, you may get your wish: Inflatable film studio to orbit Earth


Re: Boris is going to sue for copyright violation

Yeah, that's what I said but pithier. :)


Re: Space is big

"... because we've already done it."

Yerp, Skylab.

They had all sorts of dancing and physics experiments for the children in Skylab because it had quite a bit of room. Had they sent up more [and building hundreds is *always* cheaper, per unit, than just one] they could have had hand-egg games, pseudo-golf, acrobatics that would make little Olga envious and things no one down here in the mud has ever thought of.

And that's just the sports.

Imagine base-jumping from Olympus Mons or the ice-cliffs of Mimas. That one would need some thinking through as Mimas has no atmosphere to drag but I'm fairly sure a bouncy suit could be devised.

Imagine the Sun rising behind a kilometric Cross on Eros. Or a service held in the glows of the tails of Halley. That would entail really good glass but that's just chemistry and engineering.

There are no anti-trust laws on Luna. No separation of church and state in Hermes City.

No fish-and-chippy on Ganymede. The first guy to open one would have a limitless franchise opportunity.

All of the above are simply "business-as-usual" with a few tiny tweaks. The third generation off-worlders would not think like us. Their contributions to economies, cultures, governance, sciences, technologies and Life In General would be ... cosmic.

It's a pity that the Dream Of Stars is dead and only a tiny few of we Dreamers remain.


Re: Breathtaking

There can be no "Westerns" without the West. No "L.A. Gang versus Cops" movies without an L.A. No "Ice Station Zebra" without an Ice-world.

I don't say any of these are "good" but USofA has given us Johnny Cash, Blues, Hollywood, Superman, Tacos [well them and Mexico a little] and loads of other stuff Europe, Asia and Africa would never have invented.

Europe gave us lots of other things. Asia, too once people walked there from their Kenyan origin lands.


For sure, it would *start* with more "Westerns". But two Ages-of-USA later those offplanet folks would be doing stuff we could never dream of.

The Dream Of Stars is not about merely buying chips on Triton. It was about expanding the species, about making *new* species, about making the Human Galaxies an eternal cradle of ubiquitous and everlasting peoples who colossally expand the human experience.

Mankind takes the stars or this world is his grave.


Re: Union rules


Or, more accurately, nothing *extra* as they will live and work there permanently.

I thought that was the long-term plan? Or don't we have that any longer?


Re: Small problem

"Stardancer" by Spider Robinson.

You don't buy horse manure. You have stables and the fertiliser is free.

"But what, " asks the USAlien jock, "would I *do* in a city on the Moon?"

I answer: "Do you want fries with that?"

You sell the heat. The ash is a useful, free by-product.

I thought Billionaires were supposed to be imaginative, innovative wealth creators? For such "far-sighted" people they sure have had centuries of being massively myopic.

Skylab could have done this in the 1970's. Fifty years ago.

UK, Australia, to build 'network of liberty that will deter cyber attacks before they happen'


Re: Your next PM

A burning bush on a watery tart?

Now that is *true* magic.


Re: Buzz words

"Sounds like 'We are allowed to do as we wish but you're not.'"

Of course we are.

So long as we accept that there are consequence for everyone not a prince or parliamentarian.


Re: Oz has a fix for that, just ...

"After I retired I asked him. He said he was smuggling donkeys."


According to a family member, whose reportage I of course trust completely, when I was younger I wanted to grow up to *be* a submarine.

No one ever did give me a really convincing explanation as to why that wasn't a valid career path.

When I found out that no one was hiring trainee-submarines, I decided I wanted to be a Starship captain.

No one is hiring them, either. :(


"For gods sakes, think of the Trillionaires......... won't SOMEONE, *PLEASE* just *THINK*OF*THE*T*R*I*L*L*I*O*N*A*I*R*E*S*!!!!!!!!!" Impassioned pleas from "up-and-coming" backbenchers to tabloids.

BOFH: Switch off the building? Great idea, Boss


Re: Messing with oxygen-fluorine compounds

Obligatory Xkcd : https://what-if.xkcd.com/40/

"What is the worst that can happen?"

Secure boot for UK electric car chargers isn't mandatory until 2023 – but why the delay?


Re: Secure boot is going where?

"Time will be that charging from a 13 amp socket will be as illegal as using Red diesel."

Or simply made impossible by way of "HDMI" for E.V.'s

Which innovation may even make way for the wonderful marketing ploy of restricting charging to juice from "approved" dealers and partners.

Hmm, one could even use this scheme for other IoT gadgets such as fridges, lighting and heating.

Apple fridges only powerable by Apple-supplied electricity. Coming soon to a world near you ...

Of course, buying off-brand electrons and jail-breaking your cooker will become a violation of patent, copyright and other DRM, DCMA, and Computer Misuse laws.

Fun times.


Re: "automatic network disconnection if unsigned software runs on the smart devices"

"The article is about car chargers not EVs themselves."

True but the charger is a possible vector to the vehicle. If the charger is ill, the vehicle can be infected. Maybe. Unless they, too, are heavily protected.

Does anyone know [or care] whether they are?

'IwlIj jachjaj! Incoming LibreOffice 7.3 to support Klingon and Interslavic


"Is the other person who actually bothered to pay the registration fee for PKZip also here on ElReg?"


Yes, I am.

I also paid for Irfanview but only because I loved the thing and felt that Irfan deserved the money.

However, I did drop PKZip after it went bloated or something. I think it got bought up.

A tiny typo in an automated email to thousands of customers turns out to be a big problem for legal


"Makes you wonder why you bother, doesn't it?"

No, not in the least though that sort of thing is rather disheartening when it happens over and over for thirty-odd years.

All it takes is one happy customer to squeal with glee that she wants to have my baby [extreme hyperbole but the meaning behind it was clear, she was a little bit grateful for my help] to make the entire Helldesk experience well worthwhile.

A few others, scattered randomly across the decades of various IT Support roles, add strawberry bits to the normal tapioca of life. It does not take much of a "thank you" to brighten up a week and they are all remembered.

Be nice to your Support guy, it may be the only time he ever gets thanked for his efforts.

For sure, manglement mostly won't.

Facebook may soon reveal new name – we're sure Reg readers will be more creative than Zuck's marketroids


Re: Names for Facebook parent company

"ENRON" has been taken and they may object so how about "ELRON"?

Reminiscent of the progenitor of something equally nasty, slimy and destructive.



How about "THRUSH"? "Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity". This acronym has the advantage of sounding like a very nasty fungus.

When typing to relatives, I have the bad habit of calling it "FarceBoke" or, if I'm being inclusive, "FarceTwat" but I'm sure they would never accept either of those, nor are the two antisocial media companies likely to formally merge.

Addendum: no prizes are offered for knowing where I found the THRUSH name.

IKEA: Cameras were hidden in the ceiling above warehouse toilets for 'health and safety'


Re: Disgusting!!

If it is all going into the same disposal facility and if there is guaranteed all-day access and if there is absolute pirvacy [absent late 20th Century and onwards Scientists nosing about] then why not have the one?

It saves time, effort and training.


Re: Excuses, excuses

"Installing the cameras in 2015 is recent enough for some serious data protection legislation to have been violated"

IKEA, as an employer, must hold digital data on identifiable employees. as a commercial entity, it must hold identifiable data on customers.

Would those mean that the video footage would be required by law to be disclosed to an employee or customer who requested it, as is true of some other records?

I am definitely no lawyer so I have possibly misread the statutes.


Re: Excuses, excuses

Hmmm, a possible opening for a pre-lined plastic or glass credit-card-sized pocket tool that allows one to create measured, exact lines of rice, wheat, oats, sand, medications and other substances for such activities as cooking?

It could also be used by dealers of such items to supply small quantities.


tz database community up in arms over proposals to merge certain time zones


Re: Is the database really that big

My cooker has a clock that should, sometimes, display B.S.T. but to my knowledge never has. It has automatics such as a countdown alarm and settable cooking programmes so having the "correct local time" really should matter at least a little though realistically not so much as one would at first thought imagine.

It never has had. In the unlikely event that I need to programme a meal, I would simply work out the B.S.T. to U.T.C. corrections. It's hardly rocket surgery.

I'm not entirely sure whether the device counts as an "embedded system" or whether it is more in the nature of the relays that drive my washy-machine but with a clock added as a trigger. It's pre-Win-XP tech so I rather suspect the latter.

Uhhm, I'm also fairly sure that the time displayed is not, in fact, G.M.T. nor any recognised time-zone as I have long ago forgotten how to set it. I really should rediscover this procedure.

Is it a bridge? Is it a ferry? No, it's the Newport Transporter


Re: Gorgeous structure

"Surely the toilet is up there to give humans a chance to revenge themselves on the birds."


Possibly for the same reason that publicly-purchasable flying cars are mysteriously never a roaring commercial success: possibility of politicians below and disgruntled or simply playful chavs inside.

Assuming the extreme unlikelihood of us having at least a few politicians able to think ahead a little, that could also have been one small contributing factor to the downfall of airships.

Obligatory "What-If" : https://what-if.xkcd.com/11/

It should be remembered that this issue deals with *UN*-intentional impacts. Humans can aim.

UK.gov presents its National Space Strategy: Space is worth billions to us. Just don't mention Brexit, OK?


Re: Boris Johnson’s 'Galactic Britain'

A small niggly question, if I may?

How do we get millions of UKlander types up to the Whales?

Please, no one mention the Severn Bridge.


Re: Black Arrow

"... or to determine whether making the Children of Man immortal and ubiquitous in the Human Galaxies should be a priority for our spending plans."

Hint: it *SHOULD* be. Indeed, getting off-world and making the Human Galaxies should be the only long-term plan and priority of the entire species. Everything else should, and if properly done *would* fall out of that scheme.


Re: There's a reason why large rockets are launched from out of the way places

"Off the top of my head I can't think of anywhere in the UK that's suitable as a launch site ..."

Well, as I sometimes quietly mumble when the question of storage sites for nuclear waste comes up : "There is always the Houses of Parliament."

No one useful or valuable would be harmed by aborted launches or "rapid, unplanned disassembly of the vehicle".

No, the West Country, though seen as a vast, uninhabited wasteland suitable only for multi-tens-of-millions of pounds fourth homes by the Parliamentarians is not suitable as the French may not like the idea of being a dumping ground for partially successful launches. Nor are the grouse-moorlands of the Northern Shires nor the Anglian desert suitable, for much the same reason.

Nope, the safest place is Parliament. Launch from there and every single mission would be guaranteed to work flawlessly. Those with second and third homes under the flight paths would make sure of it.


Re: There's a reason why large rockets are launched from out of the way places

According to the first Martian colonist, Mr. Damon, that is also why J.P.L. was parked way out in the boonies.

There are also valid reasons for not launching from places much north of the Equator.


Re: the space sector is "worth" over £16.4bn per year, according to the document

If a seat at the Opera costs £100 [I don't have a clue but that seems like a fair median price to a nye-kulturny such as me] and if there are perhaps a million people buying tickets per year [100 per venue, 100 venues and 100 performances each year per venue] then that "brings in" a hundred million pounds per year.

My numbers are possibly conservative by at least an order of magnitude in the total. Again, I haven't a clue, really, but I'd suspect the number of venues, seats and performances are low by factors of at least two each. If so then we are talking about the region of £800,000,000 or more per annum.

Just from Opera.

Throw in multi-millions of pounds for daubs of paint on canvas every so often [often enough to keep the wealthier and more ostentatiously furnished and snootily staffed auction houses in business], the Theatres [admittedly, these may Venn-diagrammatically overlap with Opera and Pantomime] and other sources of income and "billions of pounds added to the local economies" is not too far a stretch.

It does not even matter that many of those millions of ticket-buyers mentioned above are repeat customers, the same people going to the Opera weekly, nor that those Opera-lovers may overlap with art-buying, theatre-going and other activities. All that matters is that cash is moved around.

And, as the Great Pandemic showed us last year, tens of thousands of jobs are supported by "the Arts". Most may only pay a few thousand annually per person but that still adds up to hundreds of millions pumped into the economy by thousands of people buying deep-fried Mars bars and pizzas.

The Arts may often be trite, trivial, nonsensical trash [such as an unmade bed or a can of human waste] but as a part of Life it does keep the money flowing and the people entertained.

If you include the TV and movie industry, it keeps *lots* of money flowing, even if most of it does go towards that Mouse.

The Arts may never be as important as ball-moving sporting events but collectively they do do some good.


Re: Black Arrow

600 "leaders" traditionally trained in "Humanities" and the Law aided by some weird bunches of Peers and 30-or-so superstitious god-botherers are not exactly the best people to see the Big Picture or to determine whether making the Children of Man immortal and ubiquitous in the Human Galaxies should be a priority for our spending plans.

Every time UKland gets a bright scientific or technological idea, the small minds kill it or sell it overseas for a minuscule fraction of what its long-term worth would have been.

Getting off-planet would have been cheap had we done it back then.

Cheaper than endless wars.


Re: "putting rocket boosters the size of a Saturn V's F1"

The European supply ships for the ISS could be collected on-site to be recycled as Mars supply back-packs.

Fit a few out as human-compatible and they may even form the entirety of an Ares mission. Some spare supply pods could carry, instead of supplies for ISS, Ikea-style flat-packed bits for the missions. "Insert part A into slot V6"?

I suppose *someone* at E.S.A. thought of this? And dismissed it as stupid?


Re: "putting rocket boosters the size of a Saturn V's F1"

Space clutter a problem?

Not really.

We have nukes. Loads and loads of nukes. We know where much of the clutter is, we can reliable put a Cassini into a highly complex set of orbits around distant Saturn so volatilising vast numbers of usless orbiting thingies should not be much of a trial.

We'd need to warn the Astronomers, radio, microwave, optical and everything up to gamma-ray, a couple of weeks before Bin-Day so they have time to switch off, shutter and schedule maintenance upon their mechanical eyes but that's just a few emails.

What a sky full of nukes would look like and what the residual detritus, debris and vapours would be is, of course, something for the "boffin" to clarify.

It should be noted that an added advantage to this scheme would be a global effort to remove left-over nukes that no-one is using and that are simply decaying in their silos. We would, for once, be getting some real return for all of the currency and man-years spent on those idiotic contraptions.

Wouldn't that be nice?

What do you mean by "Hell, no!!" :)


Re: "Space is worth billions to us"

UKland *had* a sort of start towards a "space presence" in the late 1950's. They killed it to save money and because the politicians of the day were mostly trained in the "Humanities" and Law and considered offworld exploitation to be skiffy-geeky BukkRojas robots-and-rayguns stuff - as many of them still do.

Had they had vision slightly better than extreme myopia, they could have had city-farms in high Earth orbit, comet-catching industries, drop-ships fuelling the Terran economy with cheap imports and possibly even scientific outposts on the Lunar Farside by 1990 but they were simply intellectually underpowered and unable to grasp the Big Picture.

It is also true that the USAliens could have built upon their Skylabs to do much of that cheaper, faster and better than UKland could have but neither nation was interested.

Instead, we get twenty-year wars over which big daddy in the sky has the better fan-fiction.

The Dream of Stars is dead.

Labour Party proposes raising UK Digital Services Tax (so Amazon can pass the hike on that, too?)


Re: until they pay a fair amount of tax.

"The other thing you could do, if you really want to make a difference to Amazon decimating the high street, is get off your arse and go to the shops."

I did my bit!

I got up off of my arse, went in to Town, got slightly rained on, bought some shopping, petted some Guide-Dogs-For-The-Blind whose attached humans were begging for funds, gave them some funds [which I thought was only fair as they let me play with the doggies], used a bus both ways and did not use one, single online service during the entire trip.

Oh, I also had a bacon sarnie and coffee in a nice shop thing. Yet another local establishment aided by my heroic exertions.

I haven't spent anything Amazonny at any time in this year, I don't think.

Imagine, me, a superhero, defending the off-line businesses!

Aren't I just *wonderful*?

Computer shuts down when foreman leaves the room: Ghost in the machine? Or an all-too-human bit of silliness?


Re: US domestic supply is NOT 110 volts

" As most US domestic supply is from overhead cables in the street, large numbers of pole mounted transformers are needed to produce the domestic voltage from the much higher distribution voltage."

Which also allows for dramatic car-meets-pole-and-sparks-ensue suspense and dramatic tension events in thousands of movies and TV serials, where the hero-du-jour must save the tiny girl child, doggy, rabbit or floppy disc containing a ten-hour-long-video of the enemy's secret base before the petrol which inevitably spills into a stream leading to the sparking ignites and destroys the vehicle and contents.

These things rarely happen in sensible, small countries like UKland. We have a lot less fun.


That is just *wrong*!

Yes, I know that in every bit of Life, His Majesty gets special attention just for *being* His Majesty even though he is objectively a petty, trivial, completely replaceable and mostly useless little functionary but that is so damned *wrong* in ever so many ways.

Indeed, it should be the other way around as there are millions and millions more Plebs than Majesties so anything harming us *should* be far, far more important and dealt with far more quickly than when it bothers a single, unimportant, minor bureaucrat.

I don't suppose anything will ever happen that way, though. :)

AI guru Ng: Fearing a rise of killer robots is like worrying about overpopulation on Mars


Re: Arthur C Clarke

"...When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong ..." ... and someone, somewhere is probably already making money from it.



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