* Posts by RLWatkins

149 posts • joined 14 Feb 2013


Chime after chime: Apple restores iconic Mac boot sound removed in 2016


You guys gotta be having a slow news day.

Not a lot more to say about this story.

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses... but not your H-1B geeks, L-1 staffers nor J-1 students


"Trump continues to reason...."

"Trump continues to reason", inaccurate though its literal meaning may be, is convenient shorthand for what is actually happening: Trump makes the theatrical but unsubstantive decisions, while the substantive ones are made by whomever is actually in charge, passed along by his aides as "suggestions". So while mindless hand-puppets may get things right now and then, there's no real way of learning how or why the decisions were actually made. Don't you love transparency in government.

Once again, racial biases show up in AI image databases, this time turning Barack Obama white


This is not "AI-based image enhancement".

Actual intelligence would recognize the image and fill in the details from memory.

However, an actual intelligence seeing a face which it couldn't recognize, never having seen it before, would do no better than this.

As much as we'd love to extract from an image details which just aren't there, and aren't anywhere else, it can't be done.

Another promise, one which was never believable to begin with, broken.


Maybe there is hope for 2020: AI that 'predicts criminality' from faces with '80% accuracy, no bias' gets in the sea


The Chinese government already did one of these.

Recall what it then identified as criminals: anyone who didn't look like "ethnic Chinese".

NASA scientists mull sending a spacecraft on a 13-year mission to visit Neptune's 'bizarre' moon, Triton


"Trident" means "three teeth"...

... and is a *description* of the thing carried by Neptune, which looks like a cross between a pitchfork and a spear.

When it's torches-and-pitchforks time, a trident would be a pretty cool thing to have.

Sadly, it's also the name of a brand of chewing gum.

Tens of millions of Internet-of-Things, network-connected gizmos at risk of remote hijacking? Computer, engage shocked mode


Quick solution:

Stop connecting all your damn' "Things" to the Internet.

Have yourself a network-of-things instead, monitor it with your own computer, and if you need to ask your computer what or how they're doing, then do that using secure communications via the Internet.

Try to remember that the people who decided we should call networks-of-things "The Internet of Things" are all data-collection companies who'd *love* for you to connect all your things to the Internet so they can snoop on them.

Don't let them get away with it. Hell is already full....

FCC boss orders probe into 'unacceptable' T-Mobile US outage after carrier plays dog-ate-my-homework card


The FCC boss is a former AT&T lobbyist, isn't he?

That would explain why he's hammering T-Mobile while AT&T gets away with whatever it likes.

You overstepped and infringed British sovereignty, Court of Appeal tells US in software companies' copyright battle


Re: US Law applies worldwide

In a sense that's true, or the reverse is true, as courts in the US have ruled over and over the same thing they ruled in the EU: You can copyright code, but you can't copyright behavior.

I'm baffled by this.

What SAS institute has done is to rest on their collective laurels for a couple of decades, then complained when someone else did what they'd done.

What makes it even more puzzling is that there are open-source stats packages which *also* do the same thing, although they are not quite so polished.

You know the saying: Hell is full, and the dead are walking Research Triangle Park.

As coronavirus catches tech CEOs with their pants down, IBM's Ginni Rometty warns of IT's new role post-pandemic


IBM's repeated layoffs...

... are as sure a sign as any that huge corporations are not the ones which create jobs.

They're selling into a saturated market, so the only way for them to "grow", to continually increase profits, is to shed employees, like IBM, or to get people to pay them again and again for things they already bought, like Microsoft, or both, like US telecomms.

Royal Navy nuclear submarine captain rapped for letting crew throw shoreside BBQ party




Re: Another thing...

They've let their own version of the republican party take over their government. What do you expect?

Want to put a satellite into orbit for US comms? Whoa, says Uncle Sam: Where's your space crash risk assessment?


Where was that "crash risk assessment"...

... when Star Link and its (now defunct) competitors started launching what will eventually be hundreds of satellites?

And what made the US FCC competent to manage policy regarding space debris? (Or at the moment, to manage any damn' thing at all?)

And did anyone bother asking any of the other dozen or so countries which also have equipment in orbit?

And... is Hell full and the dead are walking the Earth? Seems like it.

How's your night sky looking? The Reg chats to astroboffin Mark McCaughrean about Starlink and leaving a mark


I'm reminded of Iain Banks' "Against a Dark Background"...

... in which one feature of their world was "junklight", the reflection of sunlight from billions of pieces of orbiting junk, which brightened the night sky.

Then again, that one was a million light-years from the nearest star, so they didn't do a lot of astronomy. Here things are different.

Web pages a little too style over substance? Behold the Windows 98 CSS file


Re: Ha Ha Ha...


The GUI for Win95, as well as earlier versions of Windows, the Mac and the Amiga, were based on something called the Common User Access standard, which has been around for about a half-century.

It was devised specifically to make it obvious to the user how to operate a graphical user interface. It evolved from part of IBM's System Application Architecture standard, which they began to revise when Xerox first created a GUI.

People worked on it and refined it for decades, with the end-result that it was possible to figure out at a glance how to operate GUI-controlled software.

But you're in favor of abandoning decades of user-experience work in favor of "slick, modern" incomprehensible user interface designs?

Well, everybody has the right to be wrong. Exercise it proudly.

Suspicious senate stock sale spurt spurs scrutiny scheme: This website tracks which shares US senators are unloading mid-pandemic


It isn't illegal at all. Insider trading is legal for legislators. Has been for years. Some years ago congress voted to make it illegal, to great public fanfare, then voted very quietly to make it legal once again. Sure, it's unethical, but they didn't break the law.

Hailing frequencies open, sir... America's Space Force hurls its first military comms satellite into Earth's orbit


Is that picture from a movie clip?

I like the hat. It's quaint.

As for the rest, yeah, Milstar is due an overhaul. Good.

And as for Space Force, well sure, it's a white elephant, and discredited by its very origin, but I suppose one can keep the notion alive by slapping its name onto something which was already planned for years and would have been deployed anyway.

20 years later, Microsoft's still hammerin' Xamarin: Bunch of improvements on the way for cross-platform coding toolset


Wait... what? This is largely nonsense.

Xamarin hasn't been part of Microsoft for 20 years. It hasn't existed for 20 years. It started about a decade ago with a port of Mono for Android, and some Visual Studio plugins to allow coding on a Wintel dev box.

They did *act* like Microsoft: When they released the second version of their dev kit they disabled the first one, stating that one had to download the new one in order to keep using it, then when one fired it up it announced that one had to purchase a second license.

And Microsoft did finally buy Xamarin, but that's been only a few years ago. More on that below....

I know all this. I was there. I used Mono for Android at the time for a few projects. I watched all this happen.

Next, Mono doesn't belong to Xamarin, and it doesn't belong to Microsoft. When the EU refused to continue to use Microsoft's programming products unless they made C# an open standard, Novell promptly assembled a team and made an open-source version: Mono.

Microsoft would *like* for you to believe that when they bought Xamarin they bought Mono, indeed they tried to buy Novell when it became evident that the project would succeed. They've been trying to stuff that genie back into the lamp since about 2005.

Finally, Xamarin's Mono for Android rapidly evolved into a bloated and nearly useless programming platform. They may since have fixed that, indeed it looks as if they're now using Net Core instead of Mono, but they lost a lot of traction in the process.

Someone has been treating Microsoft press releases as if they were actual, recorded history, which the are not. Sad, that.

Dell files to trademark 'Podference' – presumably the mutant offspring of COVID-19 and a virtual conference?


Manipulating the language people use...

... in order to sell things to them is one of Apple Computer's tried-and-true stratagems. And hey, it worked for them.

But "podference"? This is so lame that even the dimmest cult-follower would wince.

Theranos vampire lives on: Owner of failed blood-testing biz's patents sues maker of actual COVID-19-testing kit


They're being sued for a lab-on-a-chip patent...

... which looks essentially like stuff I've been seeing in journal articles from three or four universities over about a decade.

How did anybody patent this? There's a whole bunch of prior art floating around out there. And hell is full, etc....

Oh, we may have found the COVID-19 silver lining: Coronavirus pandemic halts Xerox hostile takeover of HP


Leaving aside the question of who actually gives two farts...

... it might actually be a good thing if Xerox bought the mortal remains of the Hewlett Packard corporation.

Xerox used to run the premier CS / IT research lab, PARC, the equal in my estimation of the late and lamented Bell Labs. Hewlett Packard used to be one of the, if not *the*, premier electrical engineering outfit in the world.

If one phoenix could arise out of the ashes of two, the world might be at least a tiny bit better off.

Breaking bad... browser use: New Mexico accuses Google of illegally slurping kids' private data via G Suite


It could be "factually wrong"...

... in Google's estimation, given that they believe that if they do it then it's legal.

The Internet of Things is a security nightmare reveals latest real-world analysis: unencrypted traffic, network crossover, vulnerable OSes


I hate to be "that guy"...

... but I am thoroughly sick of hearing about the "Internet of things". An internetwork *connects other networks* to one another. If your things talk to each other, it is a *network of things*.

And 99.9% of the time, despite what various rapacious data harvest... erm, vendors keep telling us, there is no good reason, none, to connect your network of things to the Internet, and a whole compendium of reasons not to.

I can't even believe that people are still debating this. This is like installing a video camera in your bedroom, a monitor on a light pole on the nearest street-corner, then debating about how to maintain your privacy.

Is hell full again? Are those the dead I see, walking the streets? And these people vote....

US telcos tossed yet another extension to keep going with Huawei kit despite America's 'security threat' concerns


Leaving aside the question...

... of whether Huawei's gear actually constitutes a national security threat to this or that country, here in the US there is no good reason for telecomm companies to care about that. There should be, but there isn't.

HP Inc to Xerox: If you complete a hostile takeover, and try firing our chief exec, you will pay...


Isn't that agreement with HP...

... rather than with Xerox? If so, could Xerox simply reduce the CEO's pay to $18,000 / year and just stop paying any attention to him?

I've seen big companies do this to other employees whom it was too embarrassing to fire.

Coronavirus to decimate server supply chain, analysts claim: Sales to fall 10% as factories stay shut



I disagree. What we should do instead is to make "Cyri" the plural form of "Cyrus", and "I" the plural form of "Us". Latin Uber Alles! (Did I get that wrong? OK, good.)


Re: That's the first time in a long time ...

Nah. Most linguists are wrong then. It's meant what it means for 20 centuries.

Moreover, the evolution of language should make it *more* expressive, not less so.

So the ranks of the pedants swells by one. [grin]

Would-be .org gobbler Ethos Capital promises to keep prices down in last-ditch effort to keep $1.1bn deal alive


Just like politicians...

... people in the M&A business will look you right in the eye and lie to you, knowing that once it's over with there will be nothing you can do about it.

That'll take the spring out of your step: Apple warns of iPhone shortages, revenue miss due to coronavirus


This could be profitable for Apple...

... in its usual way of generating profits. After all, although in technical terms it is now the world's largest corporation, in fundamental terms the company is way, way, waaay down the list.

Why is this, one might ask? Well, despite its very small market share Apple reaps an enormous profit from the relatively few devices it does sell. (Read: they're incredibly overpriced.)

And how might COVID be profitable for Apple? The illusion of scarcity it creates stiffens the demand curve, allowing them to raise prices even further on what are already fairly cheap devices with already large price tags.

It'll be interesting to see how this works out for them.

Dual screens, fast updates, no registry cruft and security in mind: Microsoft gives devs the lowdown on Windows 10X



Mom is running Win7 w/ good anti-virus... until I set up a Suse box for her.

She had a Win8 VM on her Win7 box so she could show her friends how to do things with their new computers, doesn't regard Win10 as worth the learning curve. She's 85 and just can no longer be bothered with Microsoft's we-changed-the-UI-beyond-recognition-to-encourage-you-to-buy-it-again nonsense.

I'm 62, have been programming for fifty years, and am starting to feel the same way. I'm virtualizing my Win7 dev box and Win10 test box for customer-related work.

For day-to-day use? Who needs them.

Judge Vulcan-nerve pinches JEDI deal after Amazon forks out $42m to pause Microsoft's military machinations


Did Trump call himself Bezos "rival"?

That's pretty funny.

Windows 7 will not go gentle into that good night: Ageing OS refuses to shut down


Microsoft has a long history of sabotaging products which they want their customers to replace.

This goes back to Windows For Workgroups, a.k.a. Win 3.1.1.

A time bomb installed in the software killed its network functionality in late 1995, some time after the intended release date of Win95, but before the actual (delayed) release date of Win95. Tweaking MemMaker disabled it and allowed the (crude) network stack in Win 3.1.1 to start working again.

How do I know? I found it myself, and saw that it included a workaround (a MemMaker change), which I then deployed for several customers whose networks had mysteriously all failed on the same day. Others found pretty much the same thing, confirmation that we weren't having a bad dream.

My (now air-gapped) Win7 dev box hasn't had this problem. I wonder if not installing last month's patches has anything to do with that?

Windows 7 back in black as holdouts report wallpaper-stripping shenanigans


Pain is the great motivator.

This is a principle to which Microsoft has adhered since the 1990s. Surely it is no surprise.

We learned this back in the Windows 3 days, when many a patch diskette would break Word Perfect and Quattro. (Yes, Windows "updates" once were distributed on diskette.) I had several customers switch over to Office, which at the time was utter crap, just to avoid that problem.

They learned that it worked, and that they could get away with it. Every time someone sued them for it they'd just switch tactics.

Of course the last few patches are going to bork Microsoft products which they want you to replace. It happens a often, and has for years.

Image-rec startup for cops, Feds can probably identify you from 3 billion pics it's scraped from Facebook, YouTube etc


More AI Bafflegab

Is "Xnor" pronounced "snore"?

Bruce Perens quits Open Source Initiative amid row over new data-sharing crypto license: 'We've gone the wrong way with licensing'


Translated from lawyer-speak...

"There are people who don't want me to get my way, but I can describe what they're doing in a way that makes them look bad."

I'm on the fence about the license, but the attorney's statement about the approval process is a point against it.

Hate speech row: Fine or jail anyone who calls people boffins, geeks or eggheads, psychology nerd demands


Nerds invented the aerospace industry....

... but didn't get much credit for it. Nerds invented the electronics industry, and made out pretty well. Nerds invented information technology, and a bunch of them wound up taking money to the bank in wheelbarrows. Nerds are busy inventing the genetic and biomedical engineering industry, and stand to profit tidily.

Nerds rule. Psychologists need just to get over that, to make the move from denial to acceptance.

Advertisers want exemption from web privacy rules that, you know, enforce privacy


Five, was it? Five huge associations serving the propaganda business?

We have an American Medical Association. We have an American Bar Association. We have *five* huge associations serving the interests of the advertising business? Five?

And they're telling legislators that their interests are more important than those of their constituents?

Try to recall, amidst all the hoopla surrounding the irreproducability of psychological experiments, the one which everyone has been able to reproduce time and again: showing that if one lies to people often enough then even the fairly intelligent ones start to treat those lies as facts.

This is how propa... erm, advertising works.

And we have a veritable army of people defending the rights of those who do this

And they're telling legislators that their need to invade our privacy so they can do so more effectively is more important than their constituents desire to curtail this practice?

Wow. Hell is full, etc.

Oh, by the way, advertising is a *business*, not an industry. Industries *make* things. Industries make *things*. Let's give people dictionaries this holiday season.

Interpol: Strong encryption helps online predators. Build backdoors


Get a f**king warrant.

The only thing that any government agency can accomplish using encryption "back-doors" is mass surveillance.

If one can convince a judge or magistrate that something shady is going on, they will issue an order for a wiretap. And you know something? Even with all this modern machinery the modern version of of a wiretap can capture communications at its source, prior to encryption.

No, the more government agencies ask for weak encryption, the more they strengthen the case that they should not be allowed to demand it. It's only use-case is unlawful in most civilized states.

London cops seeking £600m mega IT contract to knock 'towers' sprawl into 'one throat to choke'



Did some nitwit executive stumble while trying to remember the word "silo"? And then, pulling something directly out of his a**, say to himself, "You know, that sounds pretty good. Impressive. Visual. Compelling. I think I'll keep it."

This is how the Marketroid Dialect of IT terminology evolves.

WinUI and WinRT: Official modern Windows API now universal thanks to WebAssembly


Four out of five Microsofts recommend....

Reviving Windows RT? Reviving XAML? Continuing to pretend that Mono is a Microsoft product?

This is, what? The third, fourth iteration of Let's Run Windows On Something Other Than X86/X64-instruction set processors? When, do you suppose, will they abandon it this time?

XAML was a knockoff, or maybe the bastard child of, GTK and Android's XML description language for UI assets, does not and had not ever allowed us lowly programmers to "converge" Web and desktop UI design.. What, exactly, is it "converging" with these days?

Finally, Microsoft's attitude to the New Dawn Of the Multi-Platform CLR, to which Novell and the Mono team beat them by twelve years or so, seems to be "If we take credit often enough, people will begin to believe." Hey, it worked for Herman Goreing and Karl Rove, so why not?

Oh, and have I mentioned that Hell is full and the dead, now imbued with Breathless Hype, are walking the Earth? Yeah? OK then. Still, we need to be reminded now and then.

Weird flex but OK... Motorola's comeback is a $1,500 Razr flip-phone with folding 6.2" screen


Re: Aspect ratio very odd

Another purpose for a $1,500 handset would be this:

If I could put it into a dock connected to a keyboard, mouse, two or three screens, Ethernet, a scanner and a couple of printers, use it as fully functional desktop computer, then un-dock it, put it in my pocket and go, then it would be worth the price.

But it just doesn't have enough horsepower to rival a stock desktop box. So... no.


Re: Star Trek

I'd say the same for the phones Apple Computer makes.

Senior GitLab exec resigns over plan to stop hiring engineers in China and Russia


No engineers work for Git Lab.

I don't know what prompted programmers, or worse "developers", to start calling themselves engineers. Pomposity, maybe? Insecurity? A desire to attain a higher station in life without expending the necessary effort? Who knows.

Out of all the hundreds of software people I've met in a half-century of programming, maybe three have a clue what engineering is about. The rest couldn't cost a job, identify a point of failure, or document the chain of decisions from problem to solution to design if their lives depended upon it.

It's OK if Git Lab doesn't hire engineers from China. It doesn't hire engineers to begin with.

Need a special something on which to spank $3,500? HoloLens 2 is finally shipping


Not a hologram.

Marketing efforts notwithstanding, "hologram" isn't a synonym for "three-dimensional presentation" any more than "motorcycle" is a synonym for "any machine with wheels and a motor". I know that it sounds cool and futuristic, which marketroids love, but it means something specific.

Boffins don bad 1980s fashion to avoid being detected by object-recognizing AI cameras


Re: Great

> Maybe don't walk in front of a moving car, Tesla or not, anyway?

Be careful.

In a thread on this site about a self-driving car hitting a pedestrian I suggested that if she'd stepped right into the path of a nearby car driven by a *person* she'd have still gotten hit.

Got downvoted into oblivion. This is a rough neighborhood.

Boffins blow hot and cold over li-ion battery that can cut leccy car recharging to '10 mins'


Re: Charge or just swap the batteries?

There are hundreds of pounds of batteries in a typical electric car, up to about a half-ton. One would need something like a forklift to make the swap. That said, I guess it could be done if they were a standard size and shape.

Heads up, private penguins: Tails 4.0 is out. Security-conscious Linux gets updated apps, speed boost


Not suitable as a general purpose operating system?

On the contrary, it is most suitable.

Given that we can put 1TB on a USB stick, I like the idea of carrying my computing environment in my pocket and being able to plug it into and boot it up on just about any box, anywhere, that I happen to encounter, then shut it down and unplug it from the CPU, keyboard and screen, and carry it away with me leaving no trace behind.

The more I think of it, the more I like the idea.

Windows Terminal 1910 preview is quite literally a more rounded affair


It is an exciting time to be alive.

It is difficult to believe that (a) anyone is excited over yet another version of the Windows command-lline shell, that (b) Microsoft is again making and again correcting mistakes it has made dozens of times previously in its design of dirt-level basic UI widgets, and that (c) Ms actually got some mileage out of exclaiming, "Look at all of our shells! Look how many of them there are!"

(Kind of reminds me of: It's a big book! All the words! All the pages! [sigh])

This is reminiscent of a post I saw recently on Reddit, of people going over the top, gushing and waxing eloquent, because Apple finally got around to telling the company which manufactures its wireless earphones to make the casings from plastic which was some color other than white.

Is this news? Really? Or, as I often ask, are we awash in triviality because Hell full and the dead are now walking the Earth?

Think your VMware snapshots are all good? Guess again if you're on Windows Server 2019


Remember DR DOS? Word Perfect...?

I recall asking on this very forum, a couple of years back: Why would anyone migrate a working VM to Hyper-V?

In keeping with a long history of motivating migration to their own products by creating pain for customers of other vendors through subtle - or sometimes blatant - forms of sabotage, it looks as if Microsoft have devised a reason for people to migrate their VMs to Hyper-V.

It astonishes me that people tolerate this kind of thing, and have done for decades.

Dodging derailment by SUSE, OpenStack Train is scheduled to arrive this week


Suse isn't trying to "de-rail" Open Stack...

... it's just that their customers don't use it very much, so they're spending their time elsewhere.

There's nothing sinister about that. It's called Looking After Your Own Customers. It's why I like the company.

Microsoft says .NET Framework porting project is finished: If your API's not on the list, it's not getting in


It was the EU who compelled Ms to make Ms.Net an open standard....

... after Ms' forcible "de-supporting" of VB6 rendered some tens of billions of dollars of investment in software written in VB6 pretty much worthless.

(By "forcible" I mean that for a couple of years they omitted a library from their new OS releases which allowed VB6 programs to run on newer boxes, although they caved after people began copying that part, 'MSVCRT40' I think it was, to their newly purchased equipment.)

That measure was intended to compel everyone to buy a new set of programming tools.

Hopefully this is not a repeat performance. Then again, knowing Ms perhaps it foreshadows something similar.



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