* Posts by jonha

103 publicly visible posts • joined 22 Jul 2014


AI is changing search, for better or for worse


Re: @jonha - Please explain to us

> how a page missing from Google search

I didn't say that the page (or pages) ChatGPT based its answer on was missing from Google.

I just said that after 20 minutes or so of googling I had not found an answer to my very specific problem... the reason being that Google spewed out many dozens of pages dealing with Excel and the problem at hand... but all (or at least all pages I checked) were for much newer versions than the one I had to deal with (MiL with an old Windows XP PC, you get the idea:-/).

ChatGPT simply was much better at "filtering" all those pages and concentrating on the ancient Excel version I was fighting with. HTH.


I agree with that... I fondly remember the time when Google was actually searching what I told it to search and not what it thought I wanted to search. This worked really well for a few years and if you knew how to use all these operators you could find almost anything (then again, this was in many respects a much simpler world than today's :-/ ).

Having said that, there are quite a few searches I've done over the years which would have benefited from a dose of AI. A year or so ago I faced a knotty problem with an older Excel version (but only with that version) and no amount of googling would deliver a page with a solution. After a frustrating 20 minutes I turned to ChatGPT and had my answer with two minutes. So there's a place for AI-assisted searches.

UK signals legal changes to self-driving vehicle liabilities


We have two Mway junctions near town with pairs of giant roundabouts, four or five lanes. The road markings were pretty unclear to start with and are now (mostly) so faded that they're becoming a real hazard, esp for those who don't know the roundabouts. I am not sure how a self-driving car will negotiate this sort of thing... never mind who's responsible for any accidents.

GNOME Foundation's new executive director sparks witch hunt


Re: It's not a witch hunt.

> 4DOS

Well, I *was* a big fan of that (and later 4NT and TC), almost from its first release (which may explain why compatibility was never much of a problem for me) when ordering software in the States still felt like an adventure. And compared to CMD.EXE it was real progress, not least because Rex listened to his users.

I've since changed OS base from W to L and after a short stint with bash I've switched to zsh. The learning curve was/is breathtakingly steep but it's miles better than 4DOS/NT/TC ever was.

The world seems so loopy. But at least someone's written a memory-safe sudo in Rust


LuaJIT v2.x

I used to do a lot of work with a JIT compiler for Lua. This thing could produce phenomenally fast native code *and* it had a powerful FFI (of course, this was not a memory-safe area, very much like unsafe for Rust). Alas, the garbage collector made it very hard to write code that guaranteed a certain performance. There were some tricks to mitigate this and Mike Pall, the author of LuaJIT, had plans for a better garbage collection implementation but these never materialised. Even today, to hack together a quick utility I am more likely to use LuaJIT than Python.

antiX 23: Anarchic for sure, but 'design by committee' isn't always the best for Linux


> But we can't help but feel that, as its name hints, it's a bit anarchic. It feels designed by committee, where everyone got their choices included. Some judicious pruning and selection would really help buff it to a shine.

I am not sure I follow. Take the various apt, synaptic, MX Package Installer, aptitude etc choices. Nobody forces you to use any or all of them but if you're used to one of those, it's nice to have it OOTB. The worst they'll do is waste a little disk space and even that can be reclaimed by judicious use of apt, synaptic, MX Package Installer, aptitude etc :-)

Also, I was used to synaptic but when I saw (and played with) aptitude I was immediately sold (nowadays I do much with simple apt-get commands). Wouldn't have happened if they had only included one or two package managers.

And if they prune and select... who's to decide what's included and what's left out? I bet that there will then be people who loudly lament the missing aptitude while others groan about synaptic. Etc etc.

It's not an obvious one, IMO.


Re: Live remaster

(I am currently not at home but I'm 99.99% sure that those MX utilities also exist in antiX.)

You could either use mx-snapshot which will create a full-fledged ISO, with all changes you did and also your home bits and pieces intact if you include the "Preserving accounts (for personal backup)" option. You could then transfer the ISO to a USB stick or similar and presto, you have new system with all your mods.

Or you could do it in one go with live-usb-maker which also has options to create an encrypted USB stick, again with all changes on the new stick.

Hey Liam, if you're bored you could do worse than look into those utilities and also the whole way the antiX/MX system supports frugal installs.

After injecting pop-up ads for Bing into Windows, Microsoft now bends to Europe on links


Re: So glad...

You're right, amazing how time flies. Wikipedia says " It was first released in 2015 as part of Windows 10" so I stand corrected. (I never installed or bought Windows 10 (or 8 or 8.1) anywhere, let alone Edge.)


So glad...

I switched from Win7 to Linux about 5 or 6 years ago. Nothing to do with then unheard-of Edge or other such Windows shenanigans. Yes, it was a very bumpy ride for the first months because I knew Windows quite well (we bought the first Windows SDK when it was still in beta ~1985 IIRC) and knew very little about Linux.

And to think they do this specifically for (parts of) Europe and just ignore the rest of the world. Amazing.

I am so glad I left that Himalaya of crap behind.

With version 117, Firefox finally speaks Chrome's translation language


Re: FF convert

> Nope, still not using it: it STILL doesn't have Page Source viewing!

Interesting. I've never missed this feature under Android and I even if it existed I would use it once in blue moon. Whereas the extensions (uBlock, Cookie AutoDelete and Decentraleyes) get used every day. I simply hadn't realised that FFoA has this feature.

And Brave being a child of Chrome, I doubt it supports extensions on Android.


FF convert

I started browser life (well, almost) with Firefox, later switched to Pale Moon (still my std browser) and use(d) Vivaldi for stuff that doesn't work under PM. I also had Vivaldi as default under Android.

However, the other day, after yet another bloated Vivaldi for Android update I decided to try Firefox for Android (f-droid version), as Vivaldi is not only bloated but is getting slower with every release. MUCH better. It's faster, both for startup and in use and it supports Firefox extensions. The latter is a killer feature as I now can control cookies under Android as I can under Linux (Cookie AutoDelete extension). Hooray!

Not stopping there, I also installed LibreWolf (a Firefox descendant) on my Linux desktop. And I have to say, it's again much better than I expected though I am not sure it'll fully replace Vivladi any time soon.

I for one am new officially a Firefox fanboi :-)

USENET, the OG social network, rises again like a text-only phoenix

Thumb Up

Re: sudo apt install slrn

> Not as bereft of life as I expected, but not exactly about to nuzzle up to the bars

Depends. Some groups are still pretty active (say on average 50 messages/day), others half-sleeping and still others smell like a dead mouse.

And in keeping with the ripe old age of USENET I still use it with a reader almost as old... the good ol' Forte Agent which runs beautifully in my Windows VM. (Agent is one of a smallish number of apps I still run in a VM as I've simply found nothing I like as much that'll run under Linux (or perhaps because I am too lazy to convert all the killfile rules). Others in that select group are foobar2k, Poptray and a couple of graphics programs.)

UK air traffic woes caused by 'invalid flight plan data'


It's getting harder and harder for those excitable papers to blame everything on the EU (not that some still try hard) so it's of course the turn of the French.

As to the fail-safe strategy of shutting down everything on running into invalid data, it's hard to say whether that's appropriate or not without knowing a lot about the systems involved.

What certainly IS strange though is that a backup system (that is there precisely in case No 1 fails) has apparently been fed the very same crap... which produced the same result. Resilience?

High severity vuln in WinRAR could allow code to run when files are opened


Re: Also available for Linux... if you're no CLI hater :-)

No, not better compression. As a rule 7z is the better compression utility, sometimes significantly so. However, as commented elsewhere RAR can create redundant archives (with user-definable amounts of redundancy) which makes sure that files in the archive can be accessed even when parts of the archive become corrupted or unreadable (happened twice in 20+ years).


Well... I use 7z for many things (it's faster and normally has better compression rates than RAR) but for everything that has to survive for a long time and is REALLY important I use RAR only. Main reason is that RAR can add user-defined amounts of redundancy to an archive, so even if bits of an archive go and bit-rot, chances are I can still access most if not all of it. I don't think 7z has such a feature.


Also available for Linux... if you're no CLI hater :-)

I've been using the Linux version of (Win)RAR for many years... my Reg file works for both versions though I am not sure about giveaway licences. Some may find the CLI-only Linux version a bit sparse but it has the same functions as the Windows version, just not as much eye candy.

Cruise self-driving taxi gets wheels stuck in wet cement



As much as this will create mirth for certain readers, I am pretty sure that human drivers have done, do and will do this all the time... but it doesn't get reported (or if so, then just in the local papers' "Mirth" section).

Electoral Commission had internet-facing server with unpatched vuln


Compare this with flying

If aircraft would be serviced, repaired and flown like servers are secured and maintained we would have the landscape full with crashed airplanes.

IT security is doable (OK, harder for zero days but even there a well-run outfit could think about possible mitigations before the fact). But as people usually don't die because of these idiots (alas, the PSNI leak may prove this to be wrong) we're fucked.

UK voter data within reach of miscreants who hacked Electoral Commission


Re: Any monitoring taking place?

> I get the strong impression that nobody is really monitoring their networks.

That's because they are so incredibly busy with pretending to take our security extremely seriously :-/

Middleweight champ MX Linux 23 delivers knockout punch


I'm with Peter here. Actually sudo gives you much more fine-grained control over which user can do what than the blunt non-root-user/root dichotomy. It's really worthwhile to read up about its capabilities... perhaps especially for an old-timer, if you pardon the expression.


You should've mentioned MX's frugal/persistence install mode. This allows to install MX on any (and I mean ANY) PC with, say, 8GB of free disk space. I am not talking about shuffling partitions or creating a new partition where MX would be installed: no, MX can peacefully and fully-featured co-exist with a Windows7...11 install on the very same NTFS partition, given enough free space.

This has allowed me, back in the days, to test drive then-MX17 in parallel with my aging Win7 install for a few months and to gradually switch from one OS to the other... Even now, six or so years on, I still have MX (now 23) running as frugal as it's incredibly easy to backup (just copy three or four files) and a breeze to install on new machines, even without the snapshot/ISO route.

The beer goes to the devs.

Google's browser security plan slammed as dangerous, terrible, DRM for websites


The web has turned into a playground for Google and a select band of other miscreants, either spreading good ol' FUD and/or inventing yet another great scheme to make it all so much better but... cui bono? Not the users, I suspect.

In other words, the web is broken, possibly beyond repair. The good thing is that the internet, aka TCP/IP, is a "simple" transport mechanism and so it will always be possible to create alternatives. Whether these succeed on a grand scale, given among other things the ever raging battle between security/privacy et al on one hand and convenience/laziness et al on the other, is another matter.

Want to live dangerously? Try running Windows XP in 2023


Re: “There's a reason...”

Maybe I'm a masochist... but for many, many tasks most people perform with a file manager or other pointy-clicky GUI tools my zsh is way faster. For some tasks it's an order of magnitude faster.

And there's a plethora of other CLI tools out there which can be amazingly fast... look at ugrep (not grep, *u*grep) if you want to search stuff, for instance.

Of course there are things where zsh or other CLI tools are not the best choice... but then I can always switch to GUIs and the mouse.


Not entirely unexpected. There's a reason why I'm still mouse-adverse and why much of what I do (all admin, the music player, some text and all hex editing...) happens in the CLI.

Microsoft kicks Calibri to the curb for Aptos as default font


Wow, I'd never have thought to read anything about Bierstadt (the WI suburb) in El Reg. Lived there many years ago for a while before moving to Frauenstadt.

Never say never.

Free Wednesday gift for you lucky lot: Extra mouse button!


Re: I'm ashamed to say I didn't know or had forgotten about the browser functions!

> It's not entirely accurate - middle button title bar click appears to only open a tab on Firefox, not Chromium or Edge

It does work on Linux Vivaldi. Can't say anything about other Chromium-based browsers.

Google's Go may add telemetry that's on by default


Anyone remember Ken Thompson's login hack?

We're slowly inching towards Ken Thompson's login programme hack (see https://www.industrialcybersecuritypulse.com/threats-vulnerabilities/throwback-attack-ken-thompson-lays-the-foundation-for-software-supply-chain-attacks/ ) for details. His was just a demo... Google's version might not be.

JD Sports admits intruder accessed 10 million customers' data


Nope. They take security EXTREMELY seriously.

As always. As do all the others, like BA or TalkTalk.

So no reason at all to worry.

For password protection, dump LastPass for open source Bitwarden


AFAIK Bitwarden stores all passwords in an encrypted binary blob which gets sent to the local device and is decrypted there, ie your master password (which can be as strong as you want/can remember) never leaves your device. And same for encrypting.

Having said that, I use BW for websites that are uncritical (like El Reg) but not for banking and the like... these things sit in a local KeePass database with a strong password and a keyfile.

Mega's unbreakable encryption proves to be anything but


Re: No tinfoil need

+1 re you words about Kim Schmitz.

But -1 for "the BEST way to keep stuff in remote storage private is to encrypt it yourself".

This is not the best way, it's the ONLY way. I have accounts w/ Google and pCloud and absolutely nothing leaves my LAN going to their servers that hasn't been locally encrypted... check out rclone if you haven't done so already.

Plus some things (ie my KeePass databases) are additionally stored in a secure 7z archive before being uploaded.

Fans of original gangster editors, look away now: It's Tilde, a text editor that doesn't work like it's 1976


Re: terminal: dte; GUI: Cudatext

Wow... I've just looked into this beauty... a Tilde install needs ~6MB on my Debian. When I said that dte is smallish I was exaggerating. It's MICROSCOPIC: a self-contained 350KB file.


Re: One to rule them all

Have an upvote. I am amazed at the no of downvotes... what you say makes perfect sense. IMO :-)


terminal: dte; GUI: Cudatext

For the terminal I swear by a smallish editor called dte (by Craig Barnes). Small, and just powerful enough for the (rare) terminal edits I do. It also runs fine over SSH.

For real programmer's stuff there's nothing that beats CudaText, a sort of extended clone of Sublime Text. Multi-platform, fast, powerful, you name it.

Nobody cares about DAB radio – so let's force it onto smart speakers, suggests UK govt review


With tongue firmly in cheek?

Oh dear... it seems the British sense of humour isn't what it used to be.


Re: UKGov Nonsense as usual

Perhaps I am the only person in Britain for whom DAB is significantly better than FM, who knows?

I am a (well-matured) IT chap and privately I don't adopt new tech stuff very easily, mostly because the promised super features aka hype rarely materialise on the ground. So when I bought a cheapie DAB some years ago I was fully expecting to buy landfill. But no, it has been an enormous success in our home... so much so that we have now three of those things and no FM.

So, with tongue firmly in cheek:



UK gains 'adequacy' status on data sharing with EU, but making that stick all depends on how much post-Brexit law diverges


And another keyboard... gone

> its [UK's] ambition to be a global tech juggernaut

Note to self: must really stop reading El Reg while having a cuppa.

Microsoft's Edge browser for Linux hits the Beta Channel ... if you're into that kind of thing


Who needs Edge when there's Vivaldi?

If I have to use a Chromium spawn (some websites, mostly WebRTC stuff, don't run in my (t)rusty Pale Moon) then there's Vivaldi... best Chromium browser by a mile. Or two.

But YMMV as I am an old geezer.

Gummy bears as a unit of measure? The Reg Standards Soviet will not stand for this sort of silliness


the sheer deliciousness of gummy bears, Haribo or otherwise


Oh the H E R E S Y!

(Bah... worse than heresy. The Missus has seen this and has told me that El Reg is from now on FORBIDDEN!)

We can't avoid it any longer. Here's a story about the NFT mania... aka someone bought a JPEG for $69m in Ether


Blockchain 0, Mona Lisa 1?

Would I buy an NFT and a JPG for $XYZ million? No.

Would I buy a 400 yr old piece of canvas with some coloured brushstrokes for $XYZ million? No.

Honestly, I can't see any great difference between the two "items"... a thing is worth what somebody is prepared to pay for it.

LastPass to limit fans of free password manager to one device type only – computer or mobile – from next month



I run KeePass on Android, Linux and Windows. Add a cloud service or, if available, your web space, and a little sprinkling of discipline (yeah, so old-fashioned) in updating this... works superbly and has given me 100% peace of mind for years now.

Fujitsu scrapping fuel card benefit to cut costs, threatens dissenters with fire and rehire


Threatens with fire and rehire

Bad, v bad... but probably better than fire and brimstone

Boffins from China push quantum computing envelope for 'supremacy' in emerging photon field


The first transistor...

was not Turing complete, it was a great mess. But it worked... and look what happened in the following decades.

AWS hires Rust compiler team co-lead Felix Klock


Re: Nice move

> I believe that as a society we benefit much more from having computer languages that almost everyone is able to master

I strongly disagree. Programming IS hard if it is to be done well and if you give people the illusion they have mastered "programming" (probably with a "Learn XYZ in 24 hours" book) you'll end up with exactly the sort of bloated, buggy crap that today is called software. I've been a programmer since the 6502 came around end of the 70s and I hang my head in shame about the state of play in software.

This is the same trap as re-training all and sundry as cyber security experts. You'll see where that will land us.


Re: Nice move

Rust IS harder to master than some other languages but in my experience this has never been a problem. Learning new concepts, if they're sound and lead to safer and/or more efficient software, is never wasted time. IMHO.

As to last drops of performance I wholeheartedly agree. "Premature optimization is the root of all evil." If anything, this Donald Knuth quote should be hanging above every programmer's desk.

And garbage collection? I agree as well. Todays's GCs have become "good enough" for almost everything not requiring real time performance. And very few processes need real "real time".


Re: Amazon got lucky that Mozilla gave up

> every language from there (...) has lacked taste

Never drink hot tea while sitting in front of a computer screen.

And whether the words "elegant" and "Ada" and "Python" should go into one sentence is surely debatable.

Also, Pascal, in its day, was quite a success... it certainly didn't sink almost w/o trace.

Marketers for an Open Web ask UK competition watchdog to block launch of Google's anti-tracking Privacy Sandbox


If Google in 2020 (or 2021) releases or implements something with "Privacy" in the name, even the most non-cynical person in the world will have a cynical thought or three flashing through their mind.

UK's National Audit Office warns full-fibre rollout strategy is leaving rural Britain behind. Again


Royle says...

Rural... my arse.

And I have to agree with him... I am living in 100k+ town and it took until two years ago to get FTTC.

Even 2020 cannot bring forth the Year of Linux on the Desktop


I disagree with Barnes. MS has done it before when they had two OS lines in parallel, the old Win16/32 world of a GUI on top of DOS and the new world of NT. These parallel worlds (including different driver models) went on for quite some years (95, 98, ME vs NT3/4, 2K) until finally Windows XP (NT-based) was deemed "backwards compatible enough" to end this double effort. There were still fears about compatibility problems but it went pretty well in the end.

Maintaining a web browser costs a lot of money... so MS finally bowed and accepted Chromium as the base for their browser.

Maintaining a kernel also costs a lot of money so...

Given time, they can do the same thing over again. Not in 2022, probably not in 2025, but by 2030 Windows will be Linux-based.

Massive news, literally: Three super-boffins awarded Nobel Prize in physics for their black-hole breakthroughs


I stand corrected. I always thought my wife is the strangest object in the universe.

Amazon's not saying its warehouse staff are dumb... but it feels they need artificial intelligence to understand what 'six feet' means


A vid for Matt?

Perhaps they should also show this vid before our MPs enter the chamber...