* Posts by Ian Mason

195 publicly visible posts • joined 27 Jun 2014


Getting to the bottom of BMW's pay-as-you-toast subscription failure

Ian Mason

Re: IBM did this for years

Burroughs too, exact same thing except they changed a couple of wire wrap connections to do the upgrade.

Britcoin or Britcon? Bank of England grilled on Digital Pound privacy concerns

Ian Mason

Incompetence, as usual.

Breeden responded: "We haven't got to the point yet where those [privacy] issues have been raised; we're at the technical design point. ..."

Then the people involved aren't competent to be involved. Privacy issues in a digital currency have to be at the core of the technical design if it is to have a possibility of meeting any privacy constraints placed upon it. Anybody who doesn't realise this has no business being anywhere within a thousand miles of any digital currency design.

By the sounds of it they expect to bake privacy in by saying, legislatively, thou shalt not breach privacy instead of ensuring technically that it is not possible for you to breach privacy.

This kind of idiocy is not surprising to those who have watched various government types keep insisting that there must be a way you can break encryption but only for the "good guys".

Unity closes offices, cancels town hall after threat in wake of runtime fee restructure

Ian Mason

> "As levels of stupidity go, this is breathtakingly advanced Grandmaster stuff. Even the British government would struggle to surpass it!"

Jacob Rees-Mogg: Hold my claret!

Ian Mason

Re: The big ones will leave rapidly too

C'mon, you can't say "the hoi polloi" in the reg comments section and not expect to get pulled up on it!

Arm's lawyers want to check assembly expert's book for trademark missteps

Ian Mason

ARM: pay attention

People don't like bullies. If you want to see yourself lose market share to RISC V, just carry on the thuggish behaviour.

People don't forget, and perhaps even now there are embedded engineers the world around going "You know, I've been meaning to have a play with RISC V and if ARM are going to run around being arseholes perhaps now's the time to do it. If they can be this stupid in how they treat people who are trying to help them by educating about their architecture, what other boneheaded mistakes are they going to make once the IPO really goes to their heads?".

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

Ian Mason

Re: So Musk has blood on his hands

Yeah, they'll make a complete mess of it like the Afghanis did against Russia. Oh, wait, the Afghanis won!

What happens when What3Words gets lost in translation?

Ian Mason

Re: Jeepers.

The SOS phone on my car just reads out the GPS coordinates to the emergency operator via speech synthesis before connecting you personally (via hands free) to the operator.

Ian Mason

Amateurish, at best.

Many, many years ago in 1985 I wrote a password generating algorithm for the company where I then worked. It took a 30 bit pseudorandom number, split that into three 10 bit fields and then spat out a three word password, with each word of the password taken from a list of 1024 words, all nouns, that had been carefully crosschecked for possible confusion by feeding them all through the "soundex" algorithm. Soundex is normally used to find words that sound alike, even if the writer uses the conventions of another language (e.g. "mare-duh" instead of "merde"). It was developed to help match people's names under variant spelling.

If as a fresh faced junior programmer I could manage to spot, and mitigate, the risk of homophones, what does that say about the quality of the thinking that went into What Three Words?

Official science: People do less, make more mistakes on Friday afternoons

Ian Mason

Re: Narrow but uncertain applicability?

Hey, at least they stated their assumptions.

I recently read a paper on how exercise modes affect blood pressure that was reported in the the press akin to "These two exercises could reduce your dangerously high blood pressure" where they made the assumption that the control groups in the papers they were doing a meta analysis of were sufficiently similar to allow all the studies to be linked. Of course they (1) didn't actually state the implicit assumption or (2) provide any evidence that the assumption held thus rendering the paper little more than prettily worded bunkum and the conclusions worthless.

Unlike this paper, which at most is going to be used to justify a bit of Friday afternoon bunking off, that paper is going to possibly genuinely and seriously affect the health of people who get an exercise prescription from a medic who (a) didn't read more that the conclusions or a report of them, (b) isn't smart enough to spot the terrible methodological mistake.

Twitter sues Brit non-profit, claims hate-speech reports scared off advertisers

Ian Mason

Re: Hate-speech reports scared off advertisers

Since 1979. TFTFY.

Ian Mason

OK, that got a genuine "Laugh out loud".

Ian Mason

Re: Arrogant Muskrat

Given that the word's roots are Latin, via Italian, the Italian Partito Nazionale Fascista, the Italian Fasci Italiani di Combattimento the Italian Fasci d'Azione Rivoluzionaria, and the Italian Fascio Rivoluzionario d'Azione Internazionalista I think claiming a French origin might be a bit off the mark.

Ian Mason

Are they going to get paid?

Before taking on work from Musk and Twitter/X, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP really ought to ask "Are we gonna get paid for this?". You've only got to look to recent news to realise that lawyers who work for Twitter/X and don't get the result, even if successful, that suits Musk's current mood when when the bill arrives, don't get paid.

What does Twitter's new logo really represent?

Ian Mason

Re: Let's hope it stops the hate comments

Any approbation that Musk has attracted here is entirely of his own making. Simple factual reporting of what he does, combined with his own pronouncements is more than enough to make him an object of scorn in the eyes of any right thinking individual.

The people who need criticism are those who still indulge in uncritical adulation of the man in the face of all he's done to Twitter, its staff, all the people it owes money to and all the shareholders in his other ventures that have been tainted by his Twitter antics.

TETRA radio comms used by emergency heroes easily cracked, say experts

Ian Mason

Re: Meh

Well, you've certainly publicly stated your unsuitability for a career as a criminal or as a spy. Or is this just a ruse to persuade up that you aren't one of those two things?

Ian Mason

Re: Spectacularly irresponsible.

You seem to have descended into "whataboutsim" and personal abuse. I take it that means you don't have a solid argument to make other than to assert your way of looking at this is the only way and anyone who refuses to agree with you is an idiot.

Stakeholders, including all the emergency services, had disclosure of this back in February last year. The whole process follows the well established, and well accepted, principles and practices of responsible disclosure. The end goal, as always, of responsible disclosure, is to ensure that vulnerabilities are addressed and fixed, and that no party can take a head in the sand attitude.

One thing I'm sure of, that these long standing vulnerabilities will already have been exploited in the wild with high probability, whether by state level actors or some of our more sophisticated criminals. Clearly it is time for TETRA to be fixed or be retired.

Debian 12.1 released with bug fixes aplenty and excitement still in short supply

Ian Mason

No excitement?

Good. Us grumpy old sysadmins who have been using Debian for yonks don't like excitement.

Sarah Silverman, novelists sue OpenAI for scraping their books to train ChatGPT

Ian Mason


Often "fair use" hinges on how much of a pre-existing work has been used. Me using Blackadder quotes to quip at what others have said counts as fair use, me posting the script of whole episodes of Blackadder does not. Ingesting a work wholesale would definitely cross any threshold used to assess whether a 'substantial' quantity of the original work had been used.

If an LLM can be provoked to produce exact quotes of any arbitrary part of a work by prompting (e.g. "What did Captain Blackadder say in response to Lieutenant George St Barleigh talking about 'willing suspension of disbelief'?") then I suspect it would fail the test of fair use by its ability to produce arbitrarily long quotations of any part of the original text.

How a dispute over IP addresses led to a challenge to internet governance

Ian Mason

Re: The issue with V6 is... NAT

You clearly don't know how this works if you think what country you're in determines the routeability of an assigned IP prefix, be it a v4 prefix or a v6 prefix.

If you've a block permanently assigned to you, then you just find a grown-up ISP and say "We need you to announce this over BGP". Better still get your own ASN (You'll have no problem with this is you're capable of getting a permanently assigned prefix) and advertise your prefix yourself to one or more upstream transit providers.

Ian Mason

Re: Nice internet you got here.

Rather: "Nice block of IP addresses you've got there. Be a shame if people refused to route traffic to or from them."

It'd only take a few people in the right places to decide that they don't like a particular block(s) and blackhole them to make the block(s) essentially worthless. Just saying.

The number’s up for 999. And 911. And 000. And 111

Ian Mason

Jemma has a problem working out that the Ambulances, Fire Service, Coastguard and, in some places, Mountain Rescue are all also on 999. Any woman who lives in the Metropolitan Police district has a right to have a problem with the police.

Want to feel old? Ethernet just celebrated its 50th birthday

Ian Mason

Re: Commodore Pet

Somewhere inside the Royal Mail winging (well, tumbling at the very least) its way to me is an Agilent/HP E5810A Ethernet/IP to IEEE-488 gateway.

Ian Mason

Re: Rings

Have you checked the pockets of your other pair of jeans?

Bosses face losing 'key' workers after forcing a return to office

Ian Mason

Re: I went into the office for 40 years

I agree it's unfair to call children kids. The goats smell better, are cheaper and are less trouble.

Red Hat strikes a crushing blow against RHEL downstreams

Ian Mason

Mr. Proven

I do hope that "going forward" in the first sentence, second paragraph was meant to be in quotes. If not, next time you consider writing "going forward" in place of "in the future" I want you to imagine your former chief sub Teresa Teras standing behind your left shoulder, arms crossed, tapping her toes, head on one side, eyebrow raised, with that "I could eat you for breakfast sonny" look of hers in her eyes. That should be enough to persuade you back onto the right track.

Ian Mason

Part of the real world is that the customers for 'expensive package' may decide that the whole RHEL farce has gone on long enough. One "big enough that they could easily account for 20% of expensive package's revenue" commercial organization that I've done work for use RHEL in production and Centos in test/development and so on. It could decide that RHEL is too expensive to use for everything, especially given that the expensive support from Red Hat/IBM that they pay for is considered a crock of shit by all there. If they say to the vendor of 'expensive product' "support our linux platform of choice or we walk" I bet that vendor will find a way to get the RHELisms out of that software in quite short order.

Inclusive Naming Initiative limps towards release of dangerous digital dictionary

Ian Mason

Re: Heard this before somewhere

OI Montag! You forgot your Salamander!

Ian Mason

To look at the phrase "fair hiring practice" and mentally parse the word "fair" as relating to colouration rather than the obviously relevant concept of "fairness" is the sign of a twisted obsession to try and find offence where no cause for offence would be found by a sane person. Why don't the people who obsess on these things find something relatively useful to do, like becoming telephone sanitisers.

There really are more important things that the world needs to get on with than going looking for words that might have a vanishingly small chance of causing any genuine offence and segregating them in a ghetto, never to be used again.

Mark Zuckerberg would kick Elon Musk's ass, experts say

Ian Mason

Re: he starts his day with octopus, a bowl of ice cream, eight oatmeal biscuits, and a donut

> just before Musk pukes up a half digested tentacle.

So you're expecting Musk to bite off bits of Zuckerberg?

Elon Musk's Twitter moves were 'reaffirming' says Reddit boss amid API changes

Ian Mason

"reaffirmed" by Elon's actions

That's a bit like saying "Charles Manson made me really reassess my attitude to mass murder, Hey, do you want to listen to The Beatles?"

Gen Z and Millennials don't know what their colleagues are talking about half the time

Ian Mason

We prefer to think of it as a way of utilising the vigour and enthusiasm of our younger colleagues in an agile environment not driven by traditional monetary rewards rather than "child slavery".

Man sues OpenAI claiming ChatGPT 'hallucination' said he embezzled money

Ian Mason

Confusing article

I can't see anywhere this article says that the defamatory speech was published anywhere, and the essence of libel is that something needs to be published.

Unless I'm missing something this is just another "Chat-GPT can produce rubbish" story combined with a "some idiot doesn't understand libel but can find a lawyer who will still happily take their money" story, neither particularly newsworthy of themselves, and the mere juxtaposition doesn't improve the newsworthiness.

Fed up with slammed servers, IT replaced iTunes backups with a cow of a file

Ian Mason

Re: magnetic media being consumed to accommodate thousands of copies of The Smiths latest album

Given that all Smiths and Morrisey songs are the same, how would they tell? At least the de-dup algorithms could reduce the whole ouvre to one file.

Ian Mason

Re: That's the way to do it

Oh, I thought they were from Friesia.

US Air Force AI drone 'killed operator, attacked comms towers in simulation'

Ian Mason

Re: Call me a nasty minded old cynic, but...

Or as Jim Hacker put it in Yes Minister: "I make a point of never believing any political rumours until they have been officially denied.".

California rolls closer to requiring drivers in driverless trucks

Ian Mason

Re: Not the right solution

Being distracted by phones and whatever already happens with non-autonomous trucks. A high proportion of truck "accidents" are down to drivers playing with phones and the like.

The risks with a "minder" of an autonomous truck and a the driver of a non-autonomous truck are probably similar in terms of driver conscientiousness and probably slightly tipped in the favour of the "minder" being likely to be less fatigued than a driver.

Watchdog calls for automatic braking to be standard in cars

Ian Mason

Unintended consequences

There's an unintended consequence to these automatic collision avoidance mechanisms and that's when someone cuts too close in front of a vehicle that's equipped with it, it can cause the vehicle to brake and then get hit from behind.

I haven't yet personally seen any collisions caused like this, but I have seen some near misses with following cars nearly hitting a vehicle that had been provoked into automatic braking by some idiot cutting in "hard and fast".

Keir Starmer's techno-fix for the NHS: Déjà vu disaster or brave new blunder?

Ian Mason

Insanity is ...

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” - Anon

Telco giant Vodafone to cut 11,000 staff as part of its turnaround plan

Ian Mason

Re: Good.

If you think their customers are suffering you should see what their staff have to put up with. Vodafone have "big company disease" in spades. If they make those 11,000 redundancies in middle management then nobody will notice the loss in headcount. In fact most probably afterward more work will get done faster and with less hassle. Most of Vodafone's output is meetings on Teams.

Who loves programming robots? Who wishes it was easier? Here comes Flowstate

Ian Mason

Talk about burying the lede!

Are there no actual experienced editors left at The Register?

Intrinsic, a robotics platform upstart founded in 2021 by Google's X "moonshot" research group, showed off its first product and announced a partner on Monday.

The product, Flowstate, is more bankshot than moonshot – a bid to lay the groundwork for relevance and revenue for the biz. It's a low-code platform for designing, programming, and deploying automation control software for a broad spectrum of industrial robotics hardware, some of which can be had from partner and automation integrator Comau.

Should have been:

Intrinsic's Flowstate is a low-code platform for designing, programming, and deploying automation control software for a broad spectrum of industrial robotics hardware. Intrinsic was founded in 2021 by Google's X "moonshot" research group, and on Monday it announced Flowstate as its first product and also announced automation integrator Comau as a partner supplying robot hardware.

Get the subject of the story into the first sentence of the first paragraph, not buried in the middle of the second paragraph.

Microsoft may charge different prices for Office with or without Teams

Ian Mason

Re: Deja vu all over again

Having experienced the delights of teams, I'd pay it!

Intel to rebrand client chips once Meteor Lake splashes down

Ian Mason

Re: Overpriced Marketing

Well, I think that's more "acquire some skills", beyond obviously the application of creative writing to expense claims.

Microsoft probes complaints of Edge leaking URLs to Bing

Ian Mason

Lack of understanding

> If you're worried about Edge leaking every page you visit to Bing, disabling the functionality by navigating...

The author clearly doesn't understand how to use the primary function of edge, which is obviously to download Chrome, Firefox,...

If you don't get open source's trademark culture, expect bad language

Ian Mason

> No trademark would be issued for just "Apple".

There are currently 55 live trademark registrations on the UK trademark registry consisting of just the word "Apple". Therefore it is clearly possible to get just the word "Apple" registered.

As always, they are further restricted by type of goods, region of use and so on to differentiate them from each other.

Deplatforming hate forums doesn't work, British boffins warn

Ian Mason

> Just because you’ve read about it on Parler or Truth Social, or heard about it on Fox News, doesn’t mean that it happened. In fact, it probably means that it didn’t happen.

Just as Jim Hacker said that he didn't believe anything until it had been officially denied I think it's not unreasonable to hold off disbelieving something until Fox News et al have confirmed it to be true.

Rust Foundation so sorry for scaring the C out of you with trademark crackdown talk

Ian Mason

I once said of the Chairman of a well known industry body, who had been very successful at building consensus, that he mistook his ability at ekeing out consensus as leadership and thus fell flat on his face when he tried to lead that body into a new, more commercial, form by presenting a new constitution as a fait accompli to be voted on. He was voted out of his post, and thus his full time job, on the very day he presented the new constitution.

I suspect something similar has gone on here. Someone presented the new policy in such a way as it looked very much like a fait accompli, when they should have tried their proposals out on selected individuals and groups as "talking points" and only once some consensus emerged as to what would be an acceptable new policy, only then should they have published a draft of that consensus for public review.

Child-devouring pothole will never hurt a BMW driver again

Ian Mason

Re: Tír na nÓg

Was that "Noggin the Nog", or an I getting confused with "Muffin the Mule" (Named after an act guaranteed to get you arrested almost anywhere, except possibly Wales or New Zealand)?

Smile! UK cops reckon they've ironed out gremlins with real-time facial recog

Ian Mason

To put that 1 in 6000 false positives into perspective. If they used this at Stratford station in Newham, where they have deployed it previously, that would result in 54 false positives a day. Over fifty innocent people each day would be detained, questioned and have to prove that they weren't the person the police would be insisting they were. Not good enough.

Cisco kindly reveals proof of concept attacks for flaws in rival Netgear's kit

Ian Mason

Re: Wow - Cisco really is a PoS

Don't blame Cisco, the fault is with Netgear equipment; it was the security consulting arm of Cisco, Cisco Talos, that discovered the vulnerabilities. Try reading more carefully next time.

Here's a fun idea: Try to unlock and drive away in someone else's Tesla

Ian Mason

Re: Call me old fashioned, but

That 80 million is only a problem for physical keys, it's too hard to have both enough key differs to cover that and have big enough mechanical tolerances to be reliable. For active electronic locks it's just a question of using a few more bits, and binary digits aren't in short supply.