* Posts by T. F. M. Reader

992 posts • joined 19 Dec 2012


Vulnerabilities and censorship tools among hot new features in Beijing's Olympics app

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"Failure from the app to validate SSL certificates"

To me it is obvious that it is by design: China wants to play MITM at will.

Tesla driver charged with vehicular manslaughter after deadly Autopilot crash

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Hi-tech product management for cars

AC - upvoted, since my own experience with "smart driver assist" gadgetry matches yours.

It seems to me that the typical "technology startup" attitude of doing 80% of what is needed in 80% of most common cases is enough for a good enough product is woefully inadequate for making cars.

In "normal" situations any alerts or automatic actions are either not needed or not helpful. In abnormal - typically dangerous - situations a decent driver will be not just alert but tense, and any additional beep triggers (for me, at least) "Oh, shit, what else is wrong now?!?!", while struggling with a car that wants to do something else leads to a feeling of loss of control. I have yet to see an automatic driver assist or alert system not doing the worst thing possible in a hairy situation - but that's never in the 80% most common cases Product Management considered.

I could offer lots of examples from personal experiences. Just one: I had to drive a rented car with active lane assist (impossible to switch off) in Italy last autumn. I spent a couple of days driving on narrow mountain roads with clear lane markings. The car's sensors thought I was too close to the markings most of the time (I was - the roads were narrow) and "pushed back". I felt totally out of control with a wall on one side and an abyss on the other - not pleasant. On autostrade the system was all but non-existent - the lanes were wide enough and I wasn't asleep.

I remember MobilEye marketing their gadgetry as something that will keep you alert when you are tired behind the wheel (in the past, to be fair). If you are tired you are not supposed to be behind the wheel in the first place - are you saying it is OK now? This, IMHO, relates directly to the "autopilot+moron" use case.

Dear software product managers, don't even think of the "good path" until you've figured out all the cases where your shit may cause real harm. That's a lot more important in a car than in a smarphone app.

US-China chip cold war? It's only helping the Middle Kingdom, silicon makers warn

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Re: Revenue

No, but you're possibly the only one who thinks that's correct.

I could've chosen another way to point out it probably wasn't... Glad that we agree...

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The combined revenue of China’s CPU, GPU, and FPGA sectors was about $1bn in 2020

Am I the only one who thinks it is not all that much?

Software guy smashes through the Somebody Else's Problem field to save the day

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Re: Re:I tried following Hitchhiker's

"did you get to the bit with the poetry?"

With all due respect to the unquestionable vogonity of Prst. V. Jeltz's poetry I always thought that the very first page of H2G2 was already pure gold.

EthereumMax, a Kardashian and Floyd Mayweather Jr sued over alleged 'pump and dump' cryptocurrency scam

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Sorry for being dense...

I can understand that rather than flogging shares through an IPO or through private investment backed by normal lawyer-created contracts a company that does (or says it intends to do) X (a.k.a. "product" or "service", as appropriate on a case-by-case basis) may flog blockchain-based share certificates through an ICO. I would not necessarily invest in this way, but I can understand that it is theoretically possible.

In this case though, I am missing an essential part: what is this X that EthereumMAX intends to do that promises to make the equity (and thus the associated tokens) worth something? I went as far as https://ethereummax.org/ (there is no .com that would be more appropriate for a company), but it seems that EthereumMAX's X is the token and I can't see what's behind it. El Reg doesn't say, either.

Is it some new level of brazenness? Or is it a clever play on Ms. Kardashian being famous for being famous and on the multitudes that still follow her on social media?

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There is a lesson there somewhere

Don't vie? for EMAX tokens?

OK, ok, leaving... ---->

Mobile networks really hate Apple's Private Relay: Some folks find iOS privacy feature blocked on their iPhones

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Privacy if **we** provide it

I can understand that any ISP filtering won't work for VPNed traffic. However, a disclaimer in TOS seems to be more appropriate than blocking the traffic, especially if the customer hasn't asked for the filtering service. I'd even consider it reasonable to continue charging a few pennies for the filtering checkbox whether or not it is effective under the circumstances - refuse the add-on service if you don't want it.

And then the situation is the same for VPN/Tor, right? Do they block other VPNs for the same reason? Ah, maybe none of them is big enough to bother... But why should all those harvestable and monetisable fruits of surveillance go to AAPL, eh?

Google: We disagree with Sonos patent ruling so much, we've changed our code to avoid infringement

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Re: Patent madness

"syncing speaker volumes across a wireless network (no your 70's quadraphonic HiFi doesn't do that either)"

In the 70ies probably not, but I certainly recall ads for HiFi systems with multiple wireless speakers that were touted as incredible inventions ("Look, Ma, no wires!") in mid-90ies (in the US). It stands to reason volume could be adjusted, too.

Ironically, the bit I remember most distinctly was that advertising of the day made a big fuss of the "wireless" part but did not mention the need of power cords for each speaker. The invention was not very successful, IIRC.

The above does not, by itself, invalidate Sonos's patents. I was too lazy to look the claims up, so I can't possibly comment.

Worst of CES Awards: The least private, least secure, least repairable, and least sustainable

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"... the timer functionality and the boost functionality..."

Neither strikes me as particularly "smart", definitely not in the IoT sense of "requiring connectivity to a cloud data centre on another continent".

I have a better example: reports were made at some point of IoT sensors wearable by cattle measuring $something_or_other_terribly_useful. I can't be arsed to dig up references and/or details, but it sounds like a potentially good idea. [I'll be waiting for Mr. Clarkson, who by now has a lot more experience than me with sheep and cows, to point out drawbacks.]

Like Mr. Barnes I cannot point to any use case involving humans or households where planet-scale connectivity leads to significant (or any) improvement. Definitely not without compromising security and/or privacy to a degree that I would consider unacceptable.

At 9 for every 100 workers, robots are rife in Singapore – so we decided to visit them

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Re: Interesting Math

@Mike S: Maybe the robots are >10 times more efficient than humans in reading those RFIDs, recording the locations and the titles and everything, and compiling a list of misplaced books with all the needed information neatly and usefully organised?

Microsoft rang in the new year with a cutesy tweet in C#. Just one problem: The code sucked

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Brought to you by ...

... the same people who coded MSFT's patch identifiers as (signed) longs...


Would you like a side of data with your chips? Silicon-slingers start bundling info with their hardware

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Sounds like a roadmap to expensive upgrades...

Cynical? Moi?

Of course a Bluetooth-using home COVID test was cracked to fake results

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BluetoothDebugActivity ?

Keeping debug infrastructure in production is one of the more common ways to create security holes, innit?

Wi-Fi not working? It's time to consult the lovely people on those fine Linux forums

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Dunno about the distro...

... but I suspect it was an old ThinkPad. I went through all the BIOS settings once (after combing every line of the supplicant configuration on Linux - ouch!) before going to a Lenovo page and discovering there was a wireless on/off switch. Might have been an X200 or something...

China lists 100 topics citizens can't include in online vids

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Re: "Just like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter"

Eh... Someone will go to jail for a while and then will promise to do better...

After deadly 737 Max crashes, damning whistleblower report reveals sidelined engineers, scarcity of expertise, more

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Re: "scientific testing" of safety is done by the manufacturing companies

Clinical trials, with at least an outline of the methodologies, are published before they start.

In general, organized scientific studies (at universities, etc.) go through proposal stage to receive funding (grants) and those proposals are evaluated. They are not necessarily published, but that's a decision for the organizations/people that put up the money, and failure will affect the researcher's ability to get funding in the future. At commercial companies this is even more pronounced (yes, I've done research in both academia and industry during my career).

You seem to propose something stricter to make it harder to "swindle" the regulators (FDA, FAA, you name it). Whether or not the specific proposal is foolproof, I think that this, as rightly highlighted by this article, has to be directed at the regulators: being a scientist or an engineer does not guarantee the highest moral ground beneath one's feet, so don't make swindling easy by allowing self-assessment.

And here the biggest problem (IMHO) has to be mentioned: regulatory positions simply do not pay as well, so the best brains tend to gravitate to the bodies that are being regulated. This is true for Boeing vs. FAA, this is true for Pfizer vs. FDA, this is true for Cisco vs. FCC, this is true for Goldman Sachs vs. SEC or Moody's - you name it. And, once again, brightness does not guarantee integrity.

Bloke breaking his back on 'commute' from bed to desk deemed a workplace accident

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Bad laws (or contracts, or policies) -> hard cases

[The law applies ... where] "computer workstations" are "permanently set up by the employer in the private area of ​​the employees."

So, do laptops count as "permanent"? No? What if there is a docking station?

"Set up by the employer"? Does a PFY have to visit before this clause is triggered?

I'll chalk the "private area" bit to Google Translate...

When you think of a unit of length, do you think of Antony Gormley's rusty anatomy?

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Re: 430ft = 936 linguine?

@the spectacularly refined chap: given that "linguine" means "little tongues" one can fly off any point of your post on a different tangent ("touch" is on topic, eh?)... Well done, Sir!

Why your external monitor looks awful on Arm-based Macs, the open source fix – and the guy who wrote it

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NextSTEP (pun intended)

Make M1 laptops work with more than one external monitor of any kind. Preferably in such a way that it will "just work".

India backs away from digital services tax after US pressure

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Delaware as an acronym

Allegedly Delaware gets so much revenue from various fees corporations pay it does not need to tax out-of-state fees. There are also non-tax-related benefits of incorporating there. With all that, I don't suppose the state is dubbed “Dollars and Euros Laundered And Washed At Reasonable Expense” for nothing.

To be fair, the UK is not without blemish, either...

You forced me to use this fancypants app and now you're asking for a printout?

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Meanwhile, in a country far (enough) away from the one Dabbsy has hay fever in ...

... I am about to check a box to digitally request a periodic prescription for essential medication I've been taking for almost 25 years.

That will work well enough - from a computer, in a browser. The medical service provider also has a smartphone app that they keep telling everyone to use but that I (and, judging from reviews, quite a few others) could never make start on my phone. To be fair, it probably starts as far as the operating system is concerned. The UX, in Dabbsy's words, is that the phone screen goes black and the device becomes really hot, until I powercycle it - multiple tries taught me to do it before it becomes too hot to handle. Never mind - the web site does work, and I am fairly confident the GP will issue 3 prescriptions for the next 3 months that will automagically appear in a database used by computers at the (provider-branded) pharmacy chain.

From (bitter) experience through the years since the provider went all digital I know to ask the pharmacist for all the 3 months' worth of meds in one go. If I decide to do it month-by-month the first two times will be fine, but on the third try the pharmacist will tell me that "the computer says" that I need a new prescription. To me, it is obvious that there is some kind of an off-by-one bug (in a loop of 3 iterations!), but no matter how many times I complained in the past it was never fixed. I started asking the GP to print out the prescriptions and I started printing out the PDFs that the website helpfully provides, and I started taking the printouts to the till as proof that there should be another prescription, but it turned out that the provider had gone "completely digital" (is it a new euphemism of some sort meaning something or other?) and the printed documents were not actual prescriptions but only records of what the GP's PC, or the web server, or maybe the printer thought should be in the pharmacy's database at the time of printing. At the till inside the pharmacy it does not matter one single bit - "I don't see your prescription in the system sir..."

The queues are managed a lot better here than at Dabbsy's pharmacy though. You enter and press a button on a little device dispensing a paper slip with a number. The next customer's number is announced on a tannoy and displayed on large TV sceeens on the pharmacy's walls. I broke down when I saw a full screen "Error in error message" message (sic!) on those TV screens one day (talk of BORK!BORK!BORK!) and asked the pharmacist if I could keep a 3 month supply of my meds in a fridge safely. He said yes, and I stopped dealing with the loop termination bug there and then.

Now, here's that checkbox in the digital prescription request again...

Swooping in to claim the glory while the On Call engineer stands baffled

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Re: Hands On

photocopy remained

Today, you'd need an NFT...

Bad news for Tencent: Chinese companies steer employees away from Weixin or WeChat

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Re: Terminology

@elsergiovolador: Combine or Kombinat was a common name describing a state run enterprise in communist countries

Sorry, but I have to call fake news on it. Most probably not your fault, but we are on a kind of social media here and have a responsibility... Are you a Russian speaker? While I am not Russian I am fluent in the language and I know the realities, so here is an explanation.

"Combine" ("комбайн") in Russian means a combine (harvester), surprisingly enough. Kombinat ("комбинат") was never a generic term for a state-run enterprise, but simply a common term for a type of factory or plant (emphatically not company or enterprise as we use the terms in the West), specifically one with a multi-stage production process where the output of one stage was used as raw material for another. E.g., food processing plants were commonly called that. Another, less common use, was actually in the names of companies producing or providing a set of related goods or services. In either case the notion of "combination" was the key. It never meant "pooling (combining) resources within a legal framework" as we might mean it (and as you might have, not unreasonably, but still incorrectly, assumed on a purely etymological basis).

Even in the state-run economy there were (and still are) also terms "предприятие" (a literal translation of "enterprise") and "объединение" ("association").

And yes, the word "company" ("компания") is widely used in Russian in exactly the familiar sense of legal association for a particular (business) objective. It wasn't in common use in the state-run economy of the USSR of old for obvious reasons, but it was always used to refer to Western companies. The moment private enterprise was officially allowed 30-something years ago "компании с ограниченной ответственностью" (literally, "companies with limited responsibility" - rings a bell?) became common, and so did "акционерные общества" (joint-stock enterprises - literally, "societies", a term in common use also, say, in French or Italian). And while state-run or state-owned companies exist and are often very big and widely known private companies in Russia are both common and not all that different in nature or structure from ours. The legal regime and the economic environment in which they are operating is very different, of course, but that's a different topic (also relevant to companies such as Tencent or Alibaba, to stay on topic, and to quite agree with you in spirit).

I don't know Chinese, unfortunately - if there is anything interesting to learn someone else will have to pitch in.

Desktop bust and custom iPhone 13 Pro made from melted-down Tesla car for the Elon Musk dork in your life

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"... a new level for us ..."

Indeed, brother...

The Rust Foundation gets ready to Rumbul (we're sure new CEO has never, ever heard that joke before)

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Re: Someone have to say it

Semicolons don't end lines, they separate statements (in Rust).

And in C/C++ that are whitespace-insensitive.

You wouldn't write English prose without using punctuation, why would you expect to be able do the same in a programming language?

I am guessing you are not one of the people who consider tweets and WhatsApp messages a natural evolution of English prose... ;-)

Is your Apple Mac running macOS Monterey leaking memory? It may be due to mouse cursor customization

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The Register asked Apple for an explanation, and the biz giant hasn't responded.

That institutional memory will never be released...

Russia blows up old satellite, NASA boss 'outraged' as ISS crew shelters from debris

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Re: Burning down the jungle gym

I'd put down a fiver on Musk crashing his into one of the other guy

Hasn't he launched one of his Teslas into orbit already? I assume it's on Autopilot...

Still reeling from the Great Facebook Blackout of 2021? Turns out Zuck is not the worst offender

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Better metric?

I understand they do what they can without duration data, but a better metric, IMHO, would be something like the product of outage count, duration, and average daily/monthly/whatever unique users to address the impact. Maybe throw the average time a user spends on the website into the mix, too.

FB may still win the context...

Why machine-learning chatbots find it difficult to respond to idioms, metaphors, rhetorical questions, sarcasm

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Chatbots' difficulty with cultural nuances is overrated

Is "piece of cake" easier for AI than "Bob's your uncle"? And does it depend on which side of the pond the AI gets trained?

Interesting questions for research. In my (admittedly limited) practice, however, supposedly AI-driven chatbots fail well before we get to this stage. Last time I needed a document from my bank I tried to call. The person who answered the phone couldn't help but insisted that the easiest way to get it would be to use the "chat with a banker" features on the website as I'd be able to get the document directly. The chatbot offered to start a conversation on any of 3 or 4 topics, regardless of which one I chose it said I should "press a button" to be transferred to a human. There was no button I could see... I don't think any AI was involved in the process. Definitely no idioms where involved (well, apart from me talking to myself...).

Visiting the branch across the road from my office resolved the matter in under 90 seconds. Piece of... Sorry, Bob is... Never mind...

Oregon city courting Google data centers fights to keep their water usage secret

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I could only think of hydrogen fuel powering the data centres. However, where will they get hydrogen from in the first place? Water?

140 million Chinese punters adopt Digital Yuan and spend up big

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Will history repeat itself?

Historically, China doesn't have a good record of managing novel forms of payment.

Consider the following rough sequence. Nearly worthless (and thus difficult to use) bronze coins and "strings" thereof from a few hundred years BC till something like the 12th century. Then Song dynasty paper money backed by (still nearly worthless) bronze. Then Song and later Yuan dynasty fiat paper money allowing exporting bronze. Then hyperinflation of paper money. Then new Ming dynasty coins only to discover that copper mines were nearly empty so that the coins were more expensive to produce than they were nominally worth, hence counterfeiting. Then more fiat paper money with more inflation. Then the government banning their own coins (!), multiple times (!). Then successive rulers declaring the predecessors' money invalid (that worked out well - money good in the morning becoming worthless in the evening by government decree).

Throughout all of that turmoil silver was considered valuable, except by the government(s) - commodity money has some advantages over fiat, notably inflation-wise, but governments are wary because they can't control the supply. Finally someone in the Ming dynasty decided to adopt silver for government transactions (including taxes) as well. By that time China was the world's largest economy (anyone who gasps at the prospect today - take note), but it had no usable silver mines. Americas had lots of silver though, and so Spanish galleons literally supplied the means of payment to China via Manila. That worked out really well for the Chinese government monetary policy, as everyone can imagine, for a few hundred years.

Fast forward to the 21st century, with only partially convertible and pegged to the dollar renminbi (US dollar today, not Spanish dollar as in the late 19th century, granted). I think I am going to sit back to watch how this new new thing will work out - I may not live to witness the final curtain, but it will be interesting nonetheless.

Real-time crowdsourced fact checking not really that effective, study says

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Re: Motivations

more 'democratic'

The reported fact-checking of fact-checking actually reminded me of the famous gedankenexperiment on democratic decision-making: pick a contentious issue, frame it as a yes/no question suitable for a vote, conduct 2 referendums: one among the general voter population or a representative sample thereof, another - within 1,000 (10,000, whatever) of the most knowledgeable (most intelligent, highest IQ, best educated - take your pick) members of the society, compare the results.

If the results are statistically similar the conclusion must be that knowledge/intelligence/etc. does not matter. Bummer.

If the results are significantly different then the conclusion must be that knowledge/intelligence/etc. does matter, but the democratic process negates the benefits. Ouch.

Looks applicable to fact-checking if you ask me - without additional research...

Behold, Eclipse's open-source software defined vehicle project

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Silver lining?

My understanding is that these guys do not intend to make actual cars, leaving it to the likes of Voilkswagen and Toyota, presumably. For some reason it sounds more reassuring to me than his Muskiness's machismo.

Facebook's greatest misses: The five nastiest bits from recent leaks

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Re: Customers?

How did such a perverted platform get so perverted?

Apparently, dumb f..ks are to blame.

Online harms don’t need dangerous legislation, they need a spot of naval action

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Re: There's still the old problem

@elsergiovolador: what kind of criteria a person must meet to be deemed as "reasonable" ... ?

This question was resolved ages ago in many jurisdictions where people were supposed to be judged by their peers who would obviously be best positioned to judge whether something was reasonable (including notions such as "reasonable doubt", etc.).

So, for instance, to judge whether a tweet was "reasonable" and not "intentionally malicious" I suppose you would be well advised to ask a sample of Twitter users.

Oh... --->

Tesla slams into reverse, pulls latest beta of Full Self-Driving software from participating car owners

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Market reaction

So, just to be clear: what pushed TSLA's market cap over $1tn - the FSB beta or the fact that they pulled it?

Twitter's machine learning algorithms amplify tweets from right-wing politicians over those on the left

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Define "algorithms"

I am having a problem with the notion of "algorithms" developed by an organization that lead to an observable result that a team of experts working for the same organization cannot explain. Of course, AI is incomprehensible magic and finding bias in inputs is too hard a task, even if you have all the information you need for that since you work for the same company and with the people who developed the "algorithms" and wrote the code and compiled the data set and divided it into training and testing and whatever other parts, and tuned the parameters...

Given this situation I am skeptical about the possibility that an outside team can reproduce the research or shed light on the results using a reduced set (possibly with additional undetected biases thrown in for good measure). Even the Commentariat's chances of doing it on the basis of common sense alone are pretty slim, IMHO.

Sorry, but the first thing that pops into my nasty suspicious mind is a variant of "policy-driven statistics": look what our completely objective [but unverifiable - khem, khem...] research found - now we need to apply corrective bias to become more balanced! Success - a narrowing of the gap, possibly to zero - will be confirmed by future research.

Cynical? Moi?

Computer scientists at University of Edinburgh contemplate courses without 'Alice' and 'Bob'

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Re: Elephant in the room

... derive the wave function of the hydrogen atom without using Greek letters ...

Sounds like psy-ops...

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Even more importantly

Today's elitist and privileged operating systems need a decidedly more inclusive interface. To right this most egregious wrong it is imperative to revive a product formerly known as Microsoft Bob, the revised name to be decided by a specially created diversity and equality committee.

The project can be outsourced to Extinction Rebellion - it fits their name and might even keep them off the streets and roads for a while.

Bob is your uncle.

FTC carpet bombs industry with letters warning that fake reviews will be punished

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Verified purchase

The Register is a truly amazing website! Its penetrating, insightful, and occasionally irreverent publications have been extremely impactful, not to say fruitful, to our company's engagement with customers and with the developer community. The effect on the bottom line has been palpable.

- Tim Cook

User locked out of Microsoft account by MFA bug, complains of customer-hostile support

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2FA is a bigger problem than the one it purports to solve, except at work

I studiously avoid setting up 2FA with any personal web service for this very reason (well, any kind of problem with the "second factor", not just a bug), as I explained in an earlier comment.

Bolt electric car battery recall might have hurt General Motors, but LG will pay $1.9bn to sooth troubled feelings

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"... do not leave your vehicle charging indoors overnight..."

Wasn't that the only known remedy to "range anxiety"?

Coat, please.

Instagram is testing feature that tells panicking users the service is broken again

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Re: What is wrong with a 404?

Despite the entertaining "in my day" responses, specifically for 404 (Resource Not Found) the service must be available in the first place.

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Re: Seems to me that there's an obvious flaw in this plan

If the notification originates locally on the client device (which will know if there is no connectivity) then it'll work.

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I call BS...

They just want to increase profits by saving on infrastructure, and this is their way to manage the load. The algorithmics of who should be shown the notification is pretty straightforward.

Fatal Attraction: Lovely collection, really, but it does not belong anywhere near magnetic storage media

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Calling Mythbusters![*]

I must admit it sounds more like an urban legend to me, too, but being an open-minded commentard I've got to ,,, well ... make a comment...

The disks in the story did not fail, did they? Rather, just some files were mangled (Word files - probably just because that's all the user was doing). Maybe it takes a lot less to flip an occasional bit, and possibly only when things change (so that doc contents get corrupted while Word and system libraries and such keep working). The SLAC comment was interesting and sounded relevant indeed, but then maybe even a strong uniform background component (let's not forget the Earth's field, either) would not have the same effect.

In short, a proper experiment is in order. No, I am not volunteering.

[*] Yes, I know, I suspect I might have mixed a TV show and a movie.

Facebook rendered spineless by buggy audit code that missed catastrophic network config error

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And I thought...

... that FB asked their AI to find the most reliable way to stop the spread of FAKE NEWS(TM)... And that the AI, uncharacteristically, worked...

Maker of ATM bombing tutorials blew himself up – Euro cops

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@Hubert Cumberdale: charred banknotes probably were not a concern for these dudes - it looks like they thought that selling spades to the real gold-diggers was a better way to prosper.

Internet Archive's 2046 Wayforward Machine says Google will cease to exist

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Re: Fuck Google/YouTube

@Phil O'Sophical: why the joke icon? I always use 1/1/1970 if I can't avoid giving my DOB and don't think the real one is needed.

Makes me younger, too...



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