* Posts by RLWatkins

198 posts • joined 14 Feb 2013


'Universal Processor' startup Tachyum unveils full-system Prodigy emulator ahead of sampling later this year


"Human brain scale AI."

The term "artificial intelligence", well understood by computer-science types, has been used for years to mislead laymen into believing that we're within a hair's breadth of building machines which are superior to human beings in understanding and creativity.

It's a lie.

We're not even close to envisioning the architecture of a machine which can out-think a person, let alone building one.

I call BS on "human brain scale AI", and note that there's still room in Transmeta's grave for a few more IT grifters.

Google says its artificial intelligence is faster and better than humans at laying out chips for artificial intelligence


Remember Microsoft's "Dot Net" trademark...

... which around 2000 or so they liked so much that they attached it to every last product, to the point where it became utterly meaningless?

"You can use your Dot Net menu to run your Dot Net report from your Dot Net database on your Dot Net server to view on your Dot Net system with your Dot Net spreadsheet...." (While drinking your Dot Net coffee at your Dot Net desk, etc.)

The popular press and their symbiotes, the marketroids, have done the same thing to the term "artificial intelligence". "AI" never actually meant very much, but these days it means nothing other than "Let us remind you to pay more attention to what we're selling here."

Graph databases to map AI in massive exercise in meta-understanding



I'm sorry, but a headline like that reminds me of listening to a glib twelve-year-old who knows nothing about math or physics trying to explain string theory to a crowd of his high-school dropout relatives. It's catchy, but one struggles to find any actual meaning in it.

Google to revive RSS support in Chrome for Android



Why would they do that? Why would anyone?

Microsoft loves Linux – as in, it loves Linux users running Linux desktop apps on Windows PCs


Tried it. Not so great.

Whatever kernel they're using runs OK on Windows, but anything which requires X falls down and dies pretty often. Tried running the Evolution client on an otherwise vanilla Win 10 Pro system, on a bespoke Win 10 box. Not so great.

You're better off running something like LTS Suse, and virtualizing Windows in VBox. That works great.

Greenland's elections just bolstered China's tech world domination plan


"a happy strategic accident that it has never used to make life hard for other nations"


Years ago they put lanthanide mining out of business in two or three other countries by selling theirs at or below cost, "cost" in China being less than elsewhere because they enforce no environmental or labor protection laws.

And while this may have changed in the interim, they then put a policy in place that they would not export them as raw materials, but would sell to any and all as much finished product as anyone wanted to buy.

I'd hoped the US would counter with its own, similar industrial policy, as the stuff is a goldmine. But our leadership happily caved.

Crikey. It's been in the news over the years. It isn't much of a secret.

Yep, the 'Who owns Linux?' case is back from the dead



For the record, when Linux first released the Linus operating system he said it was a PC port of Minix, which is in fact what it looked like.

Does anyone know whether IBM or SCO owned, or claimed to own, Minix? Sounds to me as if it was a clean-room implementation of a POSIX-compliant OS, which means neither has a horse in that race whatever they might claim in front of a judge.

China's top chip company speaks of massive silicon shortage felt around the globe


I can't help but laugh...

... at the phrase "silicon shortage". I know what they're saying, sure, but still, silicon is something like the third most common element in the Earth's crust.

Boffins revisit the Antikythera Mechanism and assert it’s no longer Greek to them


Re: For those who are interested in such mechanisms

Found some:




Re: For those who are interested in such mechanisms

Piling on epicycles to duplicate complex curves is, mathematically, similar to using Fourier to fit a collection of sine curves to a function.

I've seen epicycle demos which, with increasing accuracy, duplicated what looked like closed Hilburt curves. Didn't look like much until you got five or six epicycles, but with enough of them the results were pretty surprising.

One shouldn't wonder that some ancient mathematically oriented tinkerer might stumble across the principle.

Starlink's latent China crisis could spark a whole new world of warcraft


You don't really shoot them "down". You shoot them, but they turn into smaller pieces and stay in orbit.

Likely someone *would* consider that an act of war, as the smaller pieces will themselves destroy lots of other satellites.

So it appears some of you really don't want us to use the word 'hacker' when we really mean 'criminal'


A car thief who called himself an "automotive engineer"...

... would be laughed at by all and sundry, with some justification.

So I'm baffled that the typical script-kiddie who calls himself a "hacker" passes muster by that same press.

Stoll, the guy who detected the first computer criminals, called them "crackers". Let's just stick with that.

FortressIQ just comes out and says it: To really understand business processes, feed your staff's screen activity to an AI


No, not "... an AI...."

"To really understand business processes, feed your staff's screen activity to *OUR* AI."

There. Just needed a bit of proofreading.

Supermicro spy chips, the sequel: It really, really happened, and with bad BIOS and more, insists Bloomberg


"If you can think of it, there are bad guys already doing it."

I realize I'm quoting fiction there, but save for the fantasy genres good fiction stands on its plausibility.

And since we (US) have done it, why assume, or worse, hope, that China wouldn't? After all, they learned the trick from gaffed Cisco routers, among other things, then they learned how to use, and then used, that very backdoor themselves.

Like Apple Computer Co. so frequently says, "Everyone wants to be us." And we don't stint on the lessons.

Machine-learning model creates creepiest Doctor Who images yet – by scanning the brain of a super fan



The brain's V1 area is pretty much a map of the person's visual field. There is some distortion, which assists the brain in compensating for rotation of the field, but otherwise there's a part of the brain which reproduces a picture of what the eyes see.

Being able to read images from V1 is ongoing research, and this is an outgrowth of that.

If you can put a MEG helmet on a subject, you can also point a camera at what they're looking at, so it's not like it's extracting secrets from the human brain. It can't read memories, it can't read visualisations, it can't read non-visual thoughts.

Not much scary about it. Pretty nifty, actually. May wind up helping some blind people.


Re: Someone with access to an MRI machine has misunderstood machine learning again...

It won't be able to *predict* anything, and it can't read minds. The brain's V1 area is a distorted but otherwise pretty much 1:1 map of the person's visual field. Nothing odd about being able to extract images from it, and people are attempting just that. This is an outgrowth of that research.

Workflow biz ServiceNow ServiceWows itself by beating Q4 guidance and posting hefty top line growth of 31% for FY2020


Remember when Larry Ellison sold Oracle...

... not to technical staff, but to executives, by repeating the meaningless mantra "Oracle puts all your enterprise's information at your fingertips"?

The tactic still works.

(Recall also that the original Oracle was a temple where one went to seek answers from the gods.)

The UK's first industrial contribution to the ISS: An end to sneakernet for spacefarers


"Cape Canaveral Space Force Station"?!

Most of us knew when the President (TM) started bafflegabbing about "creating a space force" that he was just engaged in his usual sort con job.

A year later, when they'd done nothing about it, they started adding the words "Space Force" to existing programs and facilities in a classic Jesus Is Coming, Look Busy move.

I'm ashamed to hear the term. I'm even more ashamed to hear it attached to the venerable Cape Canaveral.

GitLab removes its 'starter' tier: Users must either pay 5x more or lose features


Re: Self host git

Most of us don't *need* most of that.

And for those who do, there are a host of free solutions which can run, self-hosted, right alongside a self-hosted instance of git.

Dynamic Data do-over denied: Judge upholds $7m patent infringement claim against Microsoft


People have been doing this since the late 1970s.

Seriously, someone patented the notion of generating a UI from a data record description for the purpose of editing said data records?

I, personally, have done this in BASIC+ on a DEC PDP/11 in the late 1970s, and many times in many languages since then. I'd heard of people doing it even before then, and have heard of it since, long before SQL-type DBs even became mainstream technology.

The technique was used in SQL and pre-SQL DB tools not long afterward.

The idea has been around for something like forty years. Seriously, someone *patented* it? Good grief.

BTW, although we still have been unable to patent the hammer, our patent for using hammers to drive nails is coming along nicely.

The world has gone mad.

Titanium carbide nanotech approach hints at hydrogen storage breakthrough


Re: @Degrats It's not just the storage

Seen a SCUBA tank do that.

Do not try this at home.

Software contractor accused of favoring foreigners on work visas over Americans agrees to cough up $42,000


Pocket change.

Why say more?

CentOS project changes focus, no more rebuild of Red Hat Enterprise Linux – you'll have to flow with the Stream


Re: Nothing to see here

Worth remembering that IBM has a huge research organization which generates lots of basic patents.

That resource has allowed IBM to repeatedly blow one-chance-in-a-lifetime opportunities without going under: networking, the personal computer, Internet, etc.

So they've had plenty of practice screwing up. They're good at it.

AWS Babelfish for PostgreSQL: A chance to slip the net of some SQL Server licensing costs?



This was the name of the translation service and its underlying engine which Google bought and re-branded as "Google Translate"?

What, I wonder, is the rationale behind using a well-known but abandoned trade name for a totally unrelated product.

Privacy campaigner flags concerns about Microsoft's creepy Productivity Score


We don't care what "it is designed to do"...

... we care how it will be used.

Amazon's ad-hoc Ring, Echo mesh network can mooch off your neighbors' Wi-Fi if needed – and it's opt-out


This brings back old memories.

I set up a laptop for a friend maybe fifteen, eighteen years ago. On it they wanted the AOL client.

I asked, "How do you connect to the Internet here?"

She replied, "I don't know. It just worked."

I asked, "Where is the box they installed when you signed up for Internet access here?"

She replied, "We didn't do that."

At this point I'm baffled, ask for their old computer, start digging. It turns out that AOL had included what amounted to war-driving software on their setup disc. It had found her next-door neighbor's wireless access point, cracked it, and connected by stealing their bandwidth.

So none of this surprises me. The moral compass of people who run large companies amounts to this: "It's OK to do this because it's what we want to do." God help us all.

Internet Archive to preserve Flash content for posterity with Ruffle emulator


Thank god they've done this.

I thought I'd never play the classic Cursor Thief game again. What a huge relief.

No, I don't mean the flashy Japanese version with the anime protagonist.

This is the *old* one, where the cursor thief chases your mouse cursor, and when he can grab it runs off and dumps it into a pile with all the other mouse cursors he has stolen.

The good one. Cursor Thief. It's the only plausible reason to preserve Flash content.


It's "use".

I see people saying that "leverage" is listed as a verb in the OED. Shame on them.

It's like the verb "access" in IT: all it means is "to do with something whatever one does with it". We already have a verb for that: It's "use".

"Using the safety of the modern browser," is still nonsense, but it's more sensible nonsense.

Adiós Arecibo Observatory: America's largest radio telescope faces explosive end after over 50 years of service


Three Bradley troop carriers.

The original observatory the same as three Bradley vehicles to build, and it would cost about a Bradley worth to repair.

Repair or rebuild, either option would be such an insignificant portion of the US federal budget that it's baffling that they've not made either of those decisions.

I'll bet that if enough people reminded congress that China has a better one, we might get a decision on this.

Edit: The Army has built nearly 7,000 Bradleys.

President Trump's H-1B visa crackdown wiped $100bn off market value of America's largest corps, top study finds


Re: Trump

This article misses one important point: That list of successes are all claims made by the White House press office, most of which are false.

AWS open sources porting assistant for .NET: Early days for 'a broad problem'


We can already deploy C# and ASP application programs on Linux.

How? We have Mono. The first time I deployed an ASP app on Linux / Apache was... 2010 I think. Works great. Has for years.

Given that Ms Net Core looks like an almost exact copy of Mono, perhaps we're starting a new embrace, extend, extinguish cycle here.

Ever since the team at Novell created Mono, Ms has been trying to stuff the genie back into the lamp. Think it will work this time? Nah.

Or maybe the explanation is simpler: Once again hell is full and the dead are walking the streets of Redmond.

Azure in Spaaaaaaaaace: Microsoft signs up with SpaceX's satellite net constellation Starlink


Wait... what?

Star Link will be carrying Internet traffic. Azure is accessible only over the Internet. So Azure will already be connected to Star Link as soon as they throw the switch.

So does that mean that this press release is meaningless buzz, intended solely to attract the attention of the press? Of course it does.

Top doctors slam Google for not backing up incredible claims of super-human cancer-spotting AI


Remember "quantum supremacy"...

... which Google claimed after they built a quantum-computer-like thing which basically changed state randomly, with no conceivable use, then claimed that it would take a conventional computer 10,000 years to simulate their device changing state randomly?

They're a publicly traded company. Publicly traded companies create buzz to influence their stock price. Elon Musk is an expert at it, but they all do it.

I'll believe the diagnostic AI when I see it do as well as a person which, claims to the contrary, it hasn't done yet.

LibreOffice rains on OpenOffice's 20th anniversary parade, tells rival project to 'do the right thing' and die


Re: Libre Office missing feature

Sure it does. Just tried it. Worked fine.


Re: "We were caught quite off guard"

The only feature that Ms Office has that LO and OO don't is the one which clobbers my 200-page document when I change the wrap parameters on an anchored image or table.

Got tired of that. Now use LO to write documentation, save as DOCX when someone needs to open it in Word.



I have both installed on my dev box and on a Win10 test box.

Yes, I'm a programmer, but no, I didn't have to do anything special to install both of them. Just ran the installers. Two sets of icons, I can launch either one, even run both simultaneously.

What happens when this fails? I'm curious.

Five Eyes nations plus Japan, India call for Big Tech to bake backdoors into everything


Oddly enough, it is possible to fight crime without a wholesale invasion of citizens' privacy.


Societies have been fighting crime throughout the entirety of human history without governments being able to climb through people's keyholes at the drop of a hat. And it has worked pretty well.

Kind of makes one wonder what it is they're really want, for which they're using this as an excuse.

Amazon-like megacorps dominating various online sectors could become norm for pandemic-stricken planet


No, they don't.

They don't "work better" during a pandemic, or under any other circumstances, unless one's definition of "better" means suppressing competition.

Why is IoT locked in 'proof-of-concept hell'? Stakeholders don't talk to each other, and return on investment is hazy


Missing the real problem

The phrase "Internet of Things" is a deliberate misnomer, a marketing ploy by data-harvesting companies to convince people to connect their networks of Things to the Internet so that those companies can harvest yet more data which you (or your Things) create.

Consequently, vendors are focused so single-mindedly upon convincing people that said vendors should have access to your Things and their data that they largely ignore the much more important issues of security and utility. Honestly, who needs that crap?

When they shift their focus creating a local network of Things which is useful and secure, and perhaps providing the user access to those Things via the Internet, maybe the public will show some interest.

SharePoint Syntex: Microsoft rolls out AI that automatically categorises documents


Oh, what a press release!

Microsoft adds "new" technology, which we've been reading about in TKDE for the past fifteen years, to enhance its "document manager" which has spent twenty years failing to deliver on its many and varied promises.

By damn', I think I see a tradition developing here.

Microsoft will release a web browser for Linux next month. Repeat, Microsoft will release a browser for Linux – and it uses Google's technology



What else is there to say?

Future airliners will run on hydrogen, vows Airbus as it teases world-plus-dog with concept designs


There is only one effective way to store hydrogen...

... which is to use carbon from the environment, i.e. from atmospheric CO2, to convert hydrogen to far more easily manageable hydrocarbons.

And that is "carbon-neutral".

Batteries, fuel cells and other means of providing power won't store energy as effectively, either because of the difficulty of storing fuel, i.e. plain old H2, or the chemically less-energetic reactions upon which batteries are based.

We know the solution to this problem already. All this gee-whiz technology handwaving is nothing but public relations hype. [sigh]

Howdy, er, neighbor – mind if we join you? Potential sign of life spotted in Venus's atmosphere


I'm sorry, but what exactly does this mean?

"Bacteria on Earth capable of producing the gas would only have to work at 10 per cent of their maximum capacity to create the amount of phosphine seen on Venus...."

*How many bacteria* "would only have to work at 10 per cent of their maximum capacity to create the amount of phosphine seen on Venus"? One? Ten? Ten duotrigintillion? All of them?

Everyone who can type without thinking, raise your hands.

Northrop Grumman wins $13.3bn contract with US Air Force to kick off Minuteman III ICBM replacement


This is already mature technology...

... and doesn't require any improvement.

I mean, really. They're solid-fueled, require little maintenance, and can hit within a hundred yards of their programmed target. The ones on submarines require more maintenance, but otherwise meet similar specifications.

They do what they're intended to do as well as it can be done. How, exactly, are we to "improve" upon these systems' ability to deliver nuclear warheads to a specific spot on the Earth?

AT&T’s CEO has a solution to US broadband woes despite billions sunk into the problem. You’ll never guess what it is


What about the "broadband tax"?

In the US, disguised on everyone's ISP bill as a "tax", is a government-authorized fee intended to fund the extension of broadband to all US households.

Thus far we have paid AT&T and their ilk something like $600BN this way. They've reported it as profit, not used the money the way we're told they were required to, and recently had the FCC re-classify 1.5 mbit/sec cellular as "broadband" so that they could claim they've now fulfilled that mandate.

So none of this crap surprises us over here.

AMD pushes 64-core 4.2GHz Ryzen Threadripper Pro workstation processors


> protection against hurting myself

[grin] Yeah. At full tilt this CPU consumes a bit more than 1/3 horsepower worth of electricity.

If I want one of these, I want an experienced technician to build it.


Re: ARM will rule them all

Sure, ARM makes good chips, but judging by their specs it's difficult to see how they'll "dominate" any "irrelevant" AMD chips, which presently outperform them.

Moreover, anyone who thinks an Apple handset or tablet outperforms "most laptops" then hasn't seen a modern laptop in a while.

Tell us the truth: is this post satire?

.NET Core: Still a Microsoft platform thing despite more than five years open source


Who needs Ms Net Core? We have Mono.

Mono has been able to run C# code on other platforms for something like fifteen years.

I've even run Ms ASP apps on Linux / Apache using Mono.

Actually works pretty well.


Re: Microsoft's fault

Mono didn't "migrate to .net core".

Microsoft doesn't own Mono. Microsoft appears to have cloned Mono to make Ms Net Core.

They've been trying to stuff that genie back into the lamp ever since Novell started the Mono project, and having failed to do so they decided that *claiming* to have done so is just as good.

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.



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