* Posts by Doctor Evil

256 publicly visible posts • joined 9 Feb 2013


Amazon on the hook for predictably revolting use of concealed clothes hook spy cam

Doctor Evil


There may be a legitimate use for such a device -- but there are so many opportunities for abuse that such use should probably be tightly controlled/monitored. I just hope (a) that the homeowner carries the principal liability for the harms done and (b) that the actual product manufacturer is also being sued in addition to Amazon. And I hope that nobody involved gets off at all. This is scurrilous!

DevTernity conference collapses amid claims women speakers were faked

Doctor Evil


If Anna Boyko isn't going to be there, then that's it; I'm not fucking going either!

Control Altman delete: OpenAI fires CEO, chairman quits

Doctor Evil


It looks like OpenAI spoke too soon: after Altman was fired, Brockman announced he too would be leaving the business. He was president as well as chairman of the board.

"After learning today's news, this is the message I sent to the OpenAI team," he said on social media.

"I'm super proud of what we've all built together [...]

But based on today's news, I quit."

Ballsy move!

Lawyer guilty of arrogance after ignoring tech support

Doctor Evil

I pointed out that she was clicking on the screenshot she'd taken earlier and the actual button was behind it. Ticket resolved.

Fair enough -- but I'll be the first to admit that I've caught myself clicking on some application's "close window" X in the upper-right corner ... only to realize belatedly that it was on the screenshot I'd taken and forwarded earlier. Face palm!

Fujitsu-backed FDK claims nickel zinc batteries ready for use in UPSes

Doctor Evil

Well, sure, but a lead-acid battery weighs about 17 kg (thank you, Google!), so in a car weighing around 1500 kg, we're talking about 1.1% of the total weight -- so say you save half of that or 0.5% ... I'm not sure you'd ever notice it.

Now in an industrial lift-truck (forklift) where the lead-acid batteries weight something like 1500 kg, this will be more significant -- but then, in that application you generally want the battery to weigh more because it's also the ballast for the truck.

So perhaps stationary applications are best for this technology?

UnitedHealthcare's broken AI denied seniors' medical claims, lawsuit alleges

Doctor Evil

This was predicted!

Holy carp!

I've finally gotten around to reading Cory Doctorow's excellent "Radicalized", a collection of 4 science fiction novellas, and the eponymous tale describes exactly this scenario!

Of course, in the book, victims are "radicalized", taking matters into their own hands rather than banding together to launch a class action suit -- but still! Prescient!

(And highly recommended.)

Excel Hell II: If the sickness can't be fixed, it must be contained

Doctor Evil

Re: Is it 'Excel is dead' time again?

"I sort of hope I never live to see flying cars."

Sorry -- too late!

Musk's first year as Twitter's Dear Leader is nigh

Doctor Evil

Re: Sharks with fricking lasers


95% of NFTs now totally worthless, say researchers

Doctor Evil

Re: “Now”?

Upvoted for the typo (deliberately made or not)

Bombshell biography: Fearing nuclear war, Musk blocked Starlink to stymie Ukraine attack on Russia

Doctor Evil

Re: So Musk has blood on his hands

"The war will not be over until Russia is willing to admit defeat. Not that it ever will actually 'admit defeat', but it needs to get its collective head and spirit into a space where it can admit that as a possibility."

May I suggest ... up its own anus, where it is dark enough to allow for a thorough self-examination.

The price of freedom turned out to be an afternoon of tech panic

Doctor Evil

Re: D'oh

Well, yes ... [sheepishly]

Doctor Evil

Re: D'oh

I think anyone who's ever done any length stint in IT probably needs a pint or several to again repress all the memories of the myriad of tortured use cases Excel has been forced to serve.

Compositional petroleum reservoir simulation (using several linked spreadsheets plus custom add-ins). Yikes!

ChatGPT's odds of getting code questions correct are worse than a coin flip

Doctor Evil


"The way ChatGPT confidently conveys insightful information (even when the information is incorrect) gains user trust, which causes them to prefer the incorrect answer."

Isn't that pretty much the way a con artist operates too?

NASA mistakenly severs communication to Voyager 2

Doctor Evil

Auto-correcting antenna aiming! Amazing!

Hats off to the steely-eyed rocket men who considered the possibility that this might be a useful capability. In case, you know, somebody were to screw up and send Voyager an incorrect antenna-aiming command sequence. Which, of course, would never happen ...

Mint 21.2 is desktop Linux without the faff

Doctor Evil

Re: The best

"Installing Linux in essentially a life saver and prevents e-waste."

This, in spades!

I have an ancient (probably 15 year-old) Acer laptop which happens to have been equipped with a 64-bit dual-core processor. I ran XP on it until that was no longer even remotely feasible. Then I installed Mint, have gone through 2 version upgrades since, and it's still going strong today. Even with the HDD and relatively limited (4 GB) RAM, its performance is quite acceptable as a second machine for playing around on. My antediluvian HP printers (a laser and an inkjet) are supported just as well as my modern router. As someone else pointed out below: yes, it does take a long time to boot from cold -- but waking it up from sleep to ready is almost as fast as my year-old Acer Predator running under W10. Amazing!

And the version name: Vict-o-o-o-ria! Vict-o-o-o-ria! Victoria, Victoria!

After decades contributing to science, John Goodenough powers down

Doctor Evil

Really sure he's absolutely gone?

Has anybody tried shorting the terminals to see if he can be revived?

Alphabet, Bharti Airtel to bridge India's digital divide with frickin' laser beams

Doctor Evil

One simple request

Dr Evil would be proud

I am!

Missing Titan sub likely destroyed in implosion, no survivors

Doctor Evil

Re: A fitting epitaph

"Space exploration, for example, has always understood that in order to make progress there will inevitably be some loss of life. Despite this, space exploration has by and large been subject to the most rigorous processes for minimizing risk. Also all those risking their lives have been seasoned professionals who fully understood the risks."

Well, maybe? I wonder how much Christa McAuliffe understood of the real risks to the craft she was riding to space? Not that school teachers aren't as bright as anyone else, but they're not (usually) engineers either.

Meet TeamT5, the Taiwanese infosec outfit taking on Beijing and defeating its smears

Doctor Evil


Texas judge demands lawyers declare AI-generated docs

Doctor Evil

Pot, meet Kettle?

"[...] Unbound by any sense of duty, honor, or justice, such programs act according to [...]"

Pretty much how every lawyer I've ever had to deal with has acted too ...

NASA names astronauts picked for next Artemis Moon test flight

Doctor Evil

"'proud, happy, or thrilled'

You sound like the astronauts' wives in Apollo 13, trying to hit the right reactions for the media."

I thought that line was ftom "The Right Stuff", but maybe I'm conflating the two. Both great films!

Doctor Evil

Re: what do you call...

"...a Canadian in space?"

A Cannaut


Doctor Evil

Re: When the Apollo crews were always all white men

"Were those the "best available options"?"

No, of course not. They had some of the best available options (female mathematicians of colour) in the back room, doing the calculations that allowed those missions to succeed.

It's a crying shame that NASA didn't see fit to train one or two of them up and send them aloft (nothing would focus the mind more on getting the numbers right than also getting to ride along), but those were the times that were.

Bank rewrote ads for infosec jobs to stop scaring away women

Doctor Evil

Re: Autistic People too

Well, I don't have any knowledge of C+ (never heard of it, in fact). I only have C++, so right there I'm disqualified and I don't think I'll bother applying.

Who writes Linux and open source software?

Doctor Evil

Not bloody likely!

So, Mr. Vaughan-Nichols, you think Microsoft have changed their spots, do you? Tell me, what's this all about, then?

Microsoft is checking everyone's bags for unsupported Office installs


No, it's not my dad's Microsoft, because I'm old enough to be your dad and I was writing programs on punch cards before there was a Microsoft.

British monarchy goes after Twitter, alleges rent not paid for UK base

Doctor Evil

Re: So, his "genius" is mainly..

Upvoted for "duck-billed platitudes'. Well turned, sir!

McDonald's pulls plug on Wi-Fi, starts playing classical music to soothe yobs

Doctor Evil

Re: Classical music calms?

"I would suggest a loop tape of something by Kylie Minogue, like Locomotion. A few times around of that ought to disperse the crowd..."

Yabut ... they don't want to repel everyone!

Truck-size asteroid makes one of the tightest fly-bys of Earth ever recorded

Doctor Evil

Re: Fortunately,

Dan Quayle? Really? I wouldn't have thought him capable of thinking. Golfing, yes, but thinking? Rationally? And coherently?

Home Depot sent my email, details of stuff I bought to Meta, customer complains

Doctor Evil

Re: Laziness and impatience saves the day

Came here to say the same thing; upvoted you instead. Have one of these on me (maybe a Big Rock Trad?)

Doctor Evil

Re: Annnnnnnd...

"But even when I pay with cash, many retailers will ask for a mobile phone number. Well, they don't really ask, while staring at the register they intone "What's your mobile number?" in a demanding tone of voice that assumes compliance. I've noticed that people automatically comply. But when I respond "No", there's usually a bit of comic relief when they hesitate, frown at me, and say it's for their rewards program or something like that. After a brief argument they give up.?"

They want a number? Give them a number ... any old number you can make up on the spot: yours, varied by a single digit, or a completely unrelated string of the appropriate number of digits, or anything in between. There: request satisfied with no need for argument or raised blood pressure. No privacy violation either. And it's not as if they're going to immediately call or text the number to test it. The cashiers are given their script and have to follow it -- but feel free to salt their data. I've done it for years.

FAA grounds all US departures after NOTAM goes down

Doctor Evil

Re: Just after Patch Tuesday? Hmmm.

For the curious ...


Example (from the reference):


Doctor Evil

Re: Just after Patch Tuesday? Hmmm.

"I'm betting a 2000s era IBM mainframe emulating a 1980s IBM mainframe running an IBM mainframe OS from the 60s with an app written in System360 Assembly"

And if you've ever actually read a NOTAM, you would believe this to be true. They look as though they're intended to be distributed via teletype (as they probably once were?), character-limited to minimize the cost of transmission.

Doctor Evil

Re: "but which aren't known about enough in advance to publicize by other means"

My wife came up with that "Notice to Pilots" independently over coffee this morning -- except she suggested that they be called "PIlot NOTification" (or PINOT), with coloured suffixes for the gravity of the situation being notified about: you know, PINOT noir for life-and-death type stuff, PINOT blanc for more nice-to-know information, ...

I mulled it over while having my toast.

Cheers everyone!

(I'll get my own coat, thanks. It's the leather bomber with the aviators in the pocket.)

Twitter data dump: 200m+ account database now free to download

Doctor Evil

Uh-huh, right

So, the breach dump file is inaccessible without first registering/logging in. All they want is a username, password (hopefully not re-used, right?), and an email address. And then you can have access to the data.

Except ... I don't know who's behind breached.vc -- so why would I trust them? What a great way to harvest live/active email accounts, possibly with a useful password (for the lazy).

Anyone else want to be the guinea pig here?.

Patients wrongly told they've got cancer in SMS snafu

Doctor Evil


"This was an isolated computer-related error for which we are extremely regretful, and steps are being taken to prevent a reoccurrence."

Well, of course it was.

Except, you know, computers do what they're told and rarely make such mistakes of their own volition. So there's someone responsible behind the scenes, and that person should probably be answerable for it, to explain how this happened and specifically what steps are being taken to "prevent a reoccurrence".

Techies try to bypass damaged UPS, send 380V into air traffic system

Doctor Evil

Re: What The People are Saying

“Maybe now they will consider moving to cloud.evil. Isn’t that right Mr. Bigglesworth?” Dr. Evil, Cloud CTO

I cannot recall saying that, but it does sound like me.

FTX's Sam Bankman-Fried charged with fraud by just about everyone

Doctor Evil

Casino rules?

Maybe they should just apply the same rules to the crypto sector that already apply to casinos. There's a lot of commonality there:

- it exists outside of the conventional financial system

- it's an out-and-ouit gamble (ok: speculation)

- the house always wins

- organized crime takes a real interest in it


Doctor Evil

Telling the truth?

"We allege that Sam Bankman-Fried built a house of cards on a foundation of deception while telling investors that it was one of the safest buildings in crypto," said SEC chairman Gary Gensler in a statement.

You know, those two elements aren't necessarily contradictory and SBF was well-positioned to know that. Not that FTX wasn't a house of cards, but the crypto sector could, in fact, be so unsafe that it would make putting money into a Ponzi scheme look like a hedge.


The cubesats lost in space from Artemis Moon mission

Doctor Evil

Failure rate

Counting partial successes only reduces the failure rate to 38.2 percent, indicating that for such small, cheap and off-the-shelf satellites, six-out-of-ten isn't that bad.

Yes, it is. Statistical expert Meatloaf has publicly (and repeatedly) indicated that the line of demarcation is "two out of three ain't bad" so therefore, by inference, a 60% success rate is bad.

How bad? Well, worse than good.

Is it Friday yet?

FAA wants pilots to be less dependent on computer autopilots

Doctor Evil

Sorry -- you're wrong: Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger.

I rest my case.

Someone has to say it: Voice assistants are not doing it for big tech

Doctor Evil

You are not alone!

"I've never had a problem with them but then as an ex-pat I have to talk in "RP" English if I want to be understood. I don't think the researches at Amazon had any idea of the extent of regional accents in the UK.


Elon Musk issues ultimatum to Twitter staff: Go hardcore or go home

Doctor Evil

Re: Hardcore Salary

Genius! Your immense talent will no doubt be of great use elsewhere.

Twitter engineer calls out Elon Musk for technical BS in unusual career move

Doctor Evil

Re: Bit klunky, but...

I don't mean to be condescending (and certainly not pompous), but ...

Swiss drone-busting eagle squadron grounded permanently

Doctor Evil
Black Helicopters

Different approach?

I wonder (he mused aloud) if eagles could be trained to carry a net to and drop it on said drone ...

Twitter begs some staff to come back, says they were laid off accidentally

Doctor Evil

Re: Modest proposal.

"Take a bow and introduce yourself 'Mastodon'."

Mastodon is, indeed, the elephant in the room that no one's been talking about.

(I'll get my own jacket. It's in the trunk.)

'Chief Twit' Musk delivers bathroom furniture to Twitter HQ ... but not Tesla results

Doctor Evil

Re: Something of a nitpick

The "Founder" ... better

Laugh all you want. There will be a year of the Linux desktop

Doctor Evil

Re: For some definitions of "easy"

Anyhow, sounds to me like there's something flaky about your hardware or Linux set-up?

Not impossible, but it's a vanilla-grade relatively ancient Acer laptop which ran under XP just fine for well over a decade until I formatted the disk followed with a clean Mint Cinnamon install (1 version back). The update to v21 this year went smoothly. But it could be my set-up ...

I've run into other issues besides software installs -- mainly occasional system freeze-ups when reviving from sleep. The main cause I ran down and resolved (I thought) but once in a while it still happens. So it could be my hardware ...

Or it could just be Linux. Nah -- it doesn't happen to you, so that can't be.

Doctor Evil

For some definitions of "easy"

"Linux is also easy to use. Even now, people claim that Linux is hard to use. That just shows they haven't used Linux in decades. Once upon a time, you had to master shell programs to install programs and get work done. That hasn't been true this century. Just like everything else, today you get Linux software with a click and install front-end."

Erm, no. When the "click and install front-end" fails with a relatively cryptic message about a missing piece and you have to google for what it means and what to do about it and then "sudo apt get" from the command line for the missing piece, you have just crossed a line that the average user will not put up with. And yes -- that still happens today.

Mint Cinnamon v.21 user

Mozilla drags Microsoft, Google, Apple for obliterating any form of browser choice

Doctor Evil

Re: Oh please spare me

I agree with your comments and I upvoted you accordingly -- but the implication of the message "Your browser is being managed by your organization" when you are an individual home user and not expecting this is absolutely "Big Brother"-ly.

So is the follow-on message "Updates disabled by your system administrator" (they're not; the option of changing the setting from "Automatically install" to anything else is). The only other locked settings I've found in the Mint version are the options of making Firefox NOT be the default browser and of checking to see if it IS the default.

However, the messaging to the end-user is suboptimal and I was taken aback initially. The combination of Firefox's hardwired messages and the removal of options by Mint (for arguably benevolent reasons) can leave a perhaps naive user with a poor impression.