* Posts by Draco

155 posts • joined 23 Jul 2014


Can Rust save the planet? Why, and why not


There are at least three reasons C vs C++ performance might differ

C and C++ are not the same language and there are a few corner cases were C code won't compile the same in C++, but ... I am digressing.

1) The programming paradigm is different between C and C++. In C++, you are "encouraged" to use C++ features - like the STL (Standard Template Library) instead of managing your data structures with malloc(), realloc(), and free(), or streams instead of printf() and FILE. So, equivalent C and C++ programs will look different.

2) C and C++ runtimes are different. C has no need for exception handling.

3) Even if you compiled a C program as a C++ program, things like structs get default constructors and destructors in C++.

You loved running JavaScript in your web browser. Now, get ready for Python scripting


Great! Another way to bloat and slow the browser.

Don't get me wrong, web browsers are pretty amazing - not to mention, extremely complex. What was once a thin client for remotely viewing and navigating documents has become a rather fat thin-client.

In fact. each passing iteration seems to be inching the browser closer and closer to being a full OS running as a guest on some target hardware (something Google anticipated back in 2009 with the release of ChromeOS).

AI-enhanced frog stem cells start to replicate in entirely new ways


To paraphrase Arthur Dent:

Ah, this is obviously some strange usage of the word 'replicate' that I wasn't previously aware of.

To be fair, the paper is talking about robotic assembly of other self-similar robots. The fact that these robots are assembled from cellular matter is irrelevant to the discussion - except that ... it's really cool (or creepy) to talk about previously living cells being shredded, assembled into a sort of Frankenstein monster, and then, themselves, assembling other Frankenstein monsters from similarly shredded cellular material.

For those who didn't read the paper, the steps are as follows:

1) Take a frog stem cell and remove the contents

2) Take the cell husk and strip off the outer layer

3) Assemble the cell inner layers into a "robot"

4) Put robots in an environment filled with the inner linings of cell and watch the robots "assemble" copies of themselves.

I see this less of a great leap in self-assembling robotics (although the shape is interesting) and more a testament to the tenacity of life to go on even after it's been horribly mutilated. This type of experiment shows that the forces binding life isn't just about the DNA, RNA, or macro-scale organisation - it is far deeper.

James Webb Space Telescope gets all shook up – launch delayed again

Paris Hilton

Isn't this One of Zeno's Paradoxes?

Something about never being able to attain a goal because no matter how close you get to it, there will always be a vanishingly smaller ways to go before achieving it.

Thousands of Firefox users accidentally commit login cookies on GitHub

Big Brother

Enough with the demands for Totalitarian control.

>> "I'm frustrated that GitHub isn't taking its users' security and privacy seriously," Marlin told The Register in an email.

GitHub isn't a mind reader. It doesn't know which uploaded data is private and which isn't. It trusts that the user correctly commits files to public and private repositories.

Every single file that is uploaded - publicly visible or not - is a potential security threat, data leak, or doxxing.

I can think of at least two legitimate reasons for uploading and making public facing a cookies.sqlite file:

1) controlled data to work with

2) a honeypot

Yes, some idiots might "accidentally" upload that file, but they might also "accidentally" upload their banking details as well or any other file that contains "sensitive" information.

He called himself the King of Fraud. Now this bot lord will reign in prison for years


Re: Seems kind of complicated


I assume he didn't want to have to share the ad revenue with the real ad slinging networks (like Google) that would have been actually needed to deliver the ads to real web pages. So, the cost of renting all those servers and IP addresses must have been cheaper than the cut Google et al would have taken.

Still as @Ace2 commented, he could have made more money being legit - maybe it would have taken longer, but, at least, he wouldn't be looking at prison.

As System76 starts work on its own Linux desktop world, GNOME guy opens blog, engages flame mode


Nothing to see here ...

... just routine internecine conflict.

NASA delays crewed Moon landing until 2025, citing technical infeasibility


Define "technical infeasibility"

because I'm pretty sure it isn't the same as "engineering infeasibility"?

Call me cynical, but I suspect "technical infeasibility" is simply code for "maximal pork-barreling infeasibility".

Trojan Source attack: Code that says one thing to humans tells your compiler something very different, warn academics


Re: vim singled out for praise.

Vim doesn't catch homoglyph attacks.

It also didn't didn't display a codepoint for the Python comment attack and, instead, displayed the disguised version of the code - mind you, odd cursor movement through the code was a tip off.

It did display codepoints for other bidi attacks, but it seems that certain bidi codes - like RLI (and perhaps a few others) - are rendered by Vim instead of displayed as codepoints

I am using Vim 8.1 with patches 1-2269 on Ubuntu.


Re: No examples

I'm too tired to read the Unicode documentation on the algorithm in detail.

You can find it here:


But ... reversing ''' ; would give you ; '''

The text that follows return is considered not to be part of the RLI chunk.

Google lab proposes solar-powered moisture farming to provide water for billions


It takes energy to extract water from the air

Why kWh instead of Joules?

The atmosphere is a HUGE energy exchange system. Energy is put into water, turning it into water vapour. That water vapour is transported by the atmosphere. Energy is removed from the water vapour and it precipitates or condenses out.

In the places where these systems are being proposed, the atmosphere is not pulling energy out of the water vapour and thus causing it to precipitate. Therefore, the solution is to extract the energy from the water, thus causing it to condense.

It takes a lot of energy to vaporize water. For example, to vaporize 1kg of water requires:

2500000J @ 0C

2453000J @ 20C

2256000J @ 100C

In order to condense the water, you must remove that amount of energy. One way of doing this is with a refrigeration system of some sort which moves heat from a cool plate to a hot plate.

We tend not to use Joules because energy doesn't care about time. We prefer to use a timed measure of energy - such as kWh: 1 kWh = 3600000J of energy over 1 hour.


Why would you get less water from a higher relative humidity?

How much water the atmosphere can hold depends on temperature. Consider the following quantities of water in the atmosphere at 100% humidity levels:

4.89 g/m³ @ 0C

17.3 g/m³ @ 20C

30.4 g/m³ @ 30C

At 0C, 90% relative humidity, the maximum amount of water you could extract from a cubic metre of air is 4.89 x 0.90 = 4.40 grams (about 4.4ml).

At 30C, 30% relative humidity, the maximum amount of water you could extract from a cubic metre of air is 30.04 x 0.30 = 9.12 grams (about 9.1ml).

While the paper references to papers it is pulling its number from, it seems the authors are not clear on what they are talking about and don't seem to understand how to present the data in a coherent manner. IMO, it reads like a "publish or perish" filler fluff.


Data on Heat of Vaporization:


Data on Maximum Water Content vs Air Temperature:


Real-time crowdsourced fact checking not really that effective, study says

Big Brother

"fact checking" or "political checking"?

The study opens with: Misinformation spreads rapidly on social media, before professional fact checkers and media outlets have a chance to debunk false claims.

And near the end concludes: Both models performed best when only using the evaluations from those with high political knowledge.

I wonder what sort of "facts" are best evaluated by "those with high political knowledge"?

a) Science?

b) History?

c) Philosophy?

d) Propaganda?

Chinese server builder Inspur trains monster text-generating neural network

Big Brother


As someone who was born and raised (until we left) under Communism, I have no hate for anyone, nor do I see other people as my enemy.

Love of your homeland is strong in people - regardless of the government in power - but love of your homeland is not the same as love of the government.

I find the failure to distinguish between "the people" and "the government" very common among Westerners. I suspect, this occurs because Westerners have the luxury of political tribalism with its attendant hate of other political tribes. Or, in other words, people under Communism (or any Totalitarian system) don't have the luxury of political tribalism and all the "two minute hate" it rallies forth against its opponents.

Most people just want to get on with their lives without hating anyone or having anyone hate you. So you keep your head down and ignore the politics - except, it seems, in the luxurious West.

Big Brother


"China's government has made increased use of AI an economic priority, and places great store in the potential of the technology to improve services for surveillance of its citizens. "

Raising the price of in-demand processors really helps the bottom line, says AMD


I'm glad for AMD

not so much for my pocket book.

Twitter's machine learning algorithms amplify tweets from right-wing politicians over those on the left


Self-serving study

The explanation of the methodology is quite good, but the discussion in the paper is designed to push the narrative that their algorithm tends to promote conservative / right leaning tweets more than liberal / left tweets.

The raw data is missing, along with data on the political leanings of those engaging with the tweets. From what I gather on the Internet, in the US and UK, the users skew to the left. (In the US, 60% of Twitter users lean Democrat, 35% Republican : https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2019/04/24/sizing-up-twitter-users/).

As the paper notes: The selection and ranking of Tweets is influenced, in part, by the output of machine learning models which are trained to predict whether the user is likely to engage with the Tweet in various ways (like, reTweet, reply, etc). [SI 1.14]

I think The Economist expressed best when it took a look at Tweet favouring in 2020: The platform’s recommendation engine appears to favour inflammatory tweets https://web.archive.org/web/20200803093134/https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2020/08/01/twitters-algorithm-does-not-seem-to-silence-conservatives

Those inflammatory tweets are exactly the ones that are going to get engagement. As the paper notes, the only type of tweets they considered were: We then selected original Tweets authored by the legislators, including any replies and quote Tweets (where they retweet a Tweet while also adding original commentary). We excluded retweets without comment.. [p3. Results]. The rationale for excluding tweets without comment was: attribution is

ambiguous when multiple legislators retweet the same content [ibid]. I think there is an additional problem / bias - (I suspect, but have no data to support this) people will retweet without adding a comment if they agree / support the tweet, but are more likely to attach some editorial comment ("SO STUPID!!!") when they disagree / oppose the tweet. [Ambiguity note: I find the paper ambiguous on whether it is only "legislator" retweets without comment that are ignored, or if that includes any "engaged" retweet of a legislator's tweet / retweet without comment]

Since humans - like all animals - are evolved to watch and attend to (i.e. "engage with") wany real or perceived threat, tweets that are "oppositional" will garner more attention. Since (at least the US and UK) Twitter users are left leaning, they will engage with what they perceive to be threats - which is what the algorithm will serve up to them, which will come from the other side of the political aisle. QED. Or to repeat what The Economist said: The platform’s recommendation engine appears to favour inflammatory tweets


Why the paper is self serving:

In the main body, it argues: With the exception of Germany, we find a statistically significant difference favoring the political right wing. This effect is strongest in Canada (Liberals 43% vs Conservatives 167%) and the United Kingdom (Labour 112% vs Conservatives 176%).

Yet, when you look (in Canada) at the amplifications of individual legislators, you see the Liberals and Conservatives are (almost) perfectly mirror each other (Chart 1C) - i.e. the amplification of individual members of the Liberal or Conservative parties is pretty much the same, yet the group amplifications are very different. The paper explains that this "discrepancy" is explained in SI 1.E.3 (which, I think is meant to be SI 1.5.3).

It is easy to see that if amplification a(G) of a group G were a linear function of the amplification of individuals i ... [then the sum of] individual amplification parity implies equal group amplification" [SI 1.5.3] (substance of the quote, equations didn't come through)

However, our definition of amplification does not satisfy this requirement. To see why, consider the function f (G) = |UTG|, where TG is the set of Tweets authored by members of the group G and UTG is the set of users who registered an impression event with at least one Tweet in TG. The function f is a submodular set function exhibiting a diminishing return property f (G ∪ H) ≤ f (G) + f (H). Equality would hold if Tweets from groups G and H reach completely non-overlapping audiences. [SU 1.5.3] (Again, apologies for the not quite 100% quoting, but ... equation problems).

This means that you have a much wider range of tweets from the Conservatives than the Liberals (remember, I'm looking at the Canada result / conclusion). Recall, from Graph 1C, individual Liberal and Conservative legislators get about the same amplification, but when we aggregate the amplification by group, the Liberals get less amplification than the Conservatives. But, the aggregate is a submodular set function: if the Liberals are all sharing the same tweet ("Conservatives Evil!") then each individual Liberal will get their individual "amplification", but the aggregate tweet amplification will be for that one tweet and consequently lower because of the high overlap for that tweet; if individual Conservatives are tweeting all over the place ("Liberals Evil!" or "Crystal Skulls" or "We're not the Liberals!"), each Conservative will get their individual "amplification" (which, more or less, matches the individual Liberals), but the aggregate group tweet amplification will be higher because there is less overlap with the tweets. This leads to (at least) two different ways to spin: (1) Liberals are focused and on point, Conservatives are all over the place, (2) Liberals share only one voice, Conservatives have many individual voices.

Now, many countries (apart from the US) have multiple parties. The paper focuses on Comparing the amplification of the largest mainstream left- and right-wing parties in each country [SI Figure S1A] and ignores all the other parties. In Canada, there are 2 other parties listed (NDP and BQ, both are leftist - indeed, the BQ has higher amplification in Canada than the Conservatives). Why aren't the Left and Right aggregated together so we can see the Left / Right amplification? Why is the amplification provided for only individual parties, but then generalized as "the right-wing gets more amplification". The Liberals + NDP + BQ are 3 left voices vs the one Conservative voice in Canada.

We should ask what the binary left / right "amplification" was for other countries (as well) and not just the party amplification (and then present that as representative of the left / right amplification):

UK : 3 left + 1 right

Germany : 3 left + 3 right

France : 3 left + 4 right

Japan : 2 left + 3 right

Brave's homegrown search claims to protect your privacy but there's a long way to go if it's to challenge the big G


Re: Consent

Depending on the jurisdiction, "opt-out" may not be considered "informed consent" and, hence, is illegal.

We've seen this with how Europe (and California, I think) deals with tracking cookies - you have to opt-in to tracking cookies, not opt-out.

Not sure I've seen debates on web-crawling, but I have on tracking, cookies, etc and I'm sure similar arguments would apply.

Reg scribe spends week being watched by government Bluetooth wristband, emerges to more surveillance


Re: What do you want from your surveillance state?

>> The difference is that death through disease is no longer common in the more developed parts of the world. Typhoid was part of normal life, punctuated with outbreaks of cholera and smallpox.

While true, there has been plenty of noise, over the past 40 years or so, about some sort of upcoming pathogen scenario that would eradicate the Golden Age ushered in by vaccines and antibiotics.

I recall the '76 Swine Flu (over hyped), '76 Legionnaire's Disease, '81 AIDS, '03 SARS, '14 Ebola (exciting). Not to mention the oft repeated warning that we are running out of effective antibiotics as strains of resistant bacteria proliferate.

It is nice to imagine that people will become more self-conscious of personal and interpersonal hygiene - but I am not holding my breath.

So, the question is: will humans continue the Golden Age against Mother Nature or will Mother Nature smack us down?


Re: I'll be tracked almost everywhere I go...

>> It still baffles me that some people don't get it.

It's a question of risk tolerance.

Some people won't get into a plane because - you know - it's the difference between missing out on visiting a new place or ending up in a body bag.

Even if COVID's mortality rate was 90%, there would be those who would be willing to take their chances.

Life is full of risks and everyone is going to deal with them differently.


Re: I'll be tracked almost everywhere I go...

>> these measures against COVID are effective at reducing mortality.

No, they're not.

Last I checked, mortality is still 100% for all living things regardless of their COVID status.

Computer scientists at University of Edinburgh contemplate courses without 'Alice' and 'Bob'


That's another good word we've lost

I am glad your family (I hope a substantial part) was able to find refuge in South Africa.

My use of privilege was not used in the ideologically charged sense of scornful accusation, but in the sense of fortunate - as exemplified in this opening sentence from Arthur Conan Doyle's short story "The Naval Treaty": The July which immediately succeeded my marriage was made memorable by three cases of interest, in which I had the privilege of being associated with Sherlock Holmes and of studying his methods.

It is unfortunate that you appear to have taken umbrage at my elucidation of a non-Western experience. I was not lecturing, but bringing to attention a perspective that, I find, is outside the experience of many "Westerners".

Big Brother

>> I think that hyperbole like "vicious groupthink terror" is about as unenlightening and unhelpful as that of the people you're criticising

Then be grateful for your privileged upbringing. Unfortunately, not everyone (and their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents) was as fortunate as you; they know of struggle sessions, re-education, psychiatric treatment, gulags, and consequences of a "questionable" social record and it is something to be very, very afraid of.

I think that "Western" people don't understand free speech: for those who don't come from a "Liberal Democracy" background, free speech means you don't have to worry about being denounced by the person you are speaking with, you don't have to worry about being monitored by the secret police - it means not being guarded 24/7.


It's not just the names ...

Alice and Bob are only the tip of the iceberg of this issue.

Sure "Alice" and "Bob" are English names and this shows the deep colonial instinct in the language to name things using English terms, but they are a mere intimation of the problem.

The real problem is that everything is communicated using English words, using English syntax, using English orthography. If you really want to get to the root of this problem, we must diversify and inclusivy language, grammar, and orthography.



Some knew

A lot depended on family dynamics.

Some families deprogrammed their children. They had the benefit of parents, grand-parents, even great-parents who recounted what was before the "enlightenment" and what lies the state promulgated.

The child was cautioned that not a word was to be whispered to anyone or else the secret police would come and disappear everyone. There was always some "former" neighbours who served as an example of someone who was taken. Maybe it was true, maybe they just moved away and never kept contact and never came back for a visit.

I think those who were most surprised were those who were most prone to believe that (on the whole) the government - at its core - was trying to do good by the people. Sure, the government might propagandize, be heavy-handed, but it was keeping the people alive.


Re: This isn't going to work

The main difference between then and now is that now the loons have the support (or, at least, the sympathy) of the mainstream communications.

In the past, you had to get out of the mainstream to participate with those loons.


Re: What's in a name?

Your sample adheres to left-to-right orthography. you are excluding all left-to-right, top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top (among others) writing systems.

But, that isn't good enough, you also have blind people who require some sort of tactile writing - just think how exclusionary non-tactile printed books are to the blind. Think how othering and exclusionary for them to not be able to participate in the rich history of the written word (on the other hand most of the written word is "Western" and therefore worthless Patriarchal garbage, so, maybe, they are not missing out on much).


A good overview of directionality of writing systems can be found here:


IBM US staff must be fully vaccinated by December – or go back to bed without pay

Paris Hilton

Re: Vaccine skepticism: A problem fueled by ubiquitous data and rarefied understanding

>> That same emboldened quote could just as easily be read as "certain people still don't understand the risk, we need to be more forceful and comprehensive in getting them to understand it

You can't be that willfully blind to the text. If your reading was even remotely true, then I would have expected the paragraph to look something like this:

"A substantial number of people still do not take this pandemic seriously; it could be that they are not aware of the high death rate in their demographic group ... Awareness of the threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging."

Instead, they saw the problem as being that "people do not feel sufficiently threatened" and the way to deal with that wasn't to increase awareness, but to "increase the perceived level of threat".


Re: Hmmm @Draco

Sorry to hear you had an adverse reaction that appears correlated with the vaccine.


Re: Vaccine skepticism: A problem fueled by ubiquitous data and rarefied understanding

>> How does warning the population about a highly infectious, severe and often fatal disease count as scaremongering

Well ... when the guidance a government (in this case UK) receives says:

"A substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened; it could be that they are reassured by the low death rate in their demographic group ... The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging." (emphasis in the original document)

It rather sounds like the UK government was advised to "scaremonger" in order to get people to behave a certain way.

Other governments may have received other guidance (or similar guidance).



Re: Vaccine skepticism: A problem fueled by ubiquitous data and rarefied understanding

CDC : "[F]rom December 14, 2020, through October 4, 2021 ... VAERS received 8,390 reports of death among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Hysterical person : People are dying from the vaccine.

James Hughes 1 : "It's not scaremongering IF ITS TRUE.



“The average adult has had sex innumerable times more than they have formed an opinion of their own.” ― Mokokoma Mokhonoana, The Use and Misuse of Children

Paris Hilton

Re: Hmmm

>> The biggest problem with VAERS is it is only "something happened after vaccination". You could have a bad heart, get vaccinated, then have a heart attack you would have had otherwise and it can be included.

You know this is the same argument that was used by those denying COVID deaths?

The biggest problem with COVID-19 death is it is only "something happened after infection". You could have a bad heart, get infected, then have a heart attack you would have had otherwise and it can be included.

The whole point of recording adverse effects following infection or vaccination is to see if there are any correlations. This empirical data gathering and analysis is - commonly - referred to as "science". As opposed to ideology which declares what is true and refuses to listen to (and often ridicules and demonizes) anything which questions said declared truth.


Re: Vaccine skepticism: A problem fueled by ubiquitous data and rarefied understanding

>> ... we don't trust the professionals who get paid to analyze the data properly and instead revert to hysterical fear-mongering.

Maybe it's because it was the "professionals" who started the fear-mongering and now all we have are "hysterical" voices on both sides drowning out reasonable conversation?

Judge rejects claims Cloudflare should be held responsible for customers' copyright infringement

Big Brother

Re: "We agree with the district court’s reasoning"

>> You may as well sue every single ISP in the world on the grounds that they allow access to these sites.

Of course they should be held liable - we can't allow people access to illegal material - and ISPs are the primary means by which people are introduced to the seedy criminality that is the Internet. These noble, law-abiding (and naively gullible) citizens are turned onto the path of plunder and piracy. And having been so depraved, these former citizens continue their antisocial spiral and become the saboteurs - the rogues - who will destroy civilization from the inside. It is a rot and cancer that MUST be eradicated. Think of the children.

Motivated by commerce, not conscience, Google bans ads for climate change consensus contradictors


Not just Youtube

It will affect anyone using Google's ad network - many advertisers use Google Adsense to serve up ads because many websites use Google Adsense to try and generate a little revenue,

It will also impact the types of ads served on Google's search page - where Google has +90% of the search market globally (except in: China, Czech Republic, Russian Federation, and South Korea - the might be one or two others).

If anyone can explain why Jupiter's Great Red Spot is spinning faster and shrinking, please speak up


Re: Green energy

The first "official" observation of the Great Red Spot was in 1831 by Samuel Heinrich Schwabe.

However, there were earlier reports of spots on Jupiter. Robert Hooke observed on 9 May 1664 "a small spot in the biggest of the 3 obscurer Belts of Jupiter".

This was later, apparently confirmed by Giovanni Cassini: "Besides that Transient Shadow last mentioned, there hath been observed, by Mr. Hook first ... and since by M. Cassini, a permanent Spot in the Disque of Jupiter."

Both are recorded in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 1666. Pages 3 and 143, respectively.


[The quotes given have been "modernized" by replacing use of the 'long s' with the more commonly used 's' we are familiar with. https://faqbite.com/why/why-did-people-write-f-instead-of-s-in-old-books/]

You can also see what looks like the Red Spot in Donato Creti's 1711 Astronomical canvas featuring Jupiter. He painted a series of 8 canvases - each featuring one of the the 5 known planets, the sun, the moon, and a comet in the background - using the best available knowledge of these bodies at the time.


Calculating the big picture: Future HPC efforts will soon see off its von Neumann past


Re: A but no I

I don't see most AI implementations as "statistical pattern matching" so much as "adaptive filters" - perhaps that's my (analog) hardware side taking precedence over my coding side.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou admits lying about Iran deal, gets to go home


It really wan't [Canada's] fault?

They nabbed her. Of course, they have culpability, otherwise, they have no agency.

Whether is was right to detain her is another matter. It all depends on whether the laws she purportedly violated are just laws, whether detention was a just response to claimed violation, whether detention is proportionate to the harm of not detaining her, etc.

Scientists took cues from helicopter seeds to invent tiny microchips that float on wind


Re: Smells like cancer

This may be a problem for Homo Sapiens, but it will not be for Homo Maskus - the future human.


As if e-waste wasn't a big enough problem ...

It's one thing for e-waste to be fairly chunky stuff you can see, but when it's sand grain sized (after the "environmentally friendly" bio-degradation of the dispersal substrate) it's going to be getting into a lot of stuff - with all its attendant unforeseen consequences.

I'm all for gathering better data and, perhaps, there are use cases for something like this, but ... you'd have to make a good case why more macro-level monitoring devices are insufficient.

Odd that El Reg omitted, from the article, the most Orwellian use mentioned in the video (about the 1 minute mark): population surveillance.

Aren't semiconductors supposed to have toxic chemicals in them. I know phosphorous and boron are common doping agents. I recall arsenic being another - but, maybe that's been phased out in more modern chippery. The prospect of arsenic laced grains of sand being strewn far and wide doesn't seem well thought out.

Measuring your carbon footprint? There's no app for that


Univariate focus is likely to lead to unanticipated consequences

Focusing solely on CO2 is likely to get you to a bad place. It might be something you want to keep an eye on, but you have to keep an eye on a whole lot of things - and you might not know what those things should be.

Incentivizing decreasing CO2, incentivizes doing things to reduce C02, which de-incentivizes considering the consequences of reducing C02 -- imagine someone found you could cut C02 by adding something like lead or mercury compounds to the mix.


AI caramba, those neural networks are power-hungry: Counting the environmental cost of artificial intelligence


Sounds "Dodgy" to me

(Do I really have to explain how I got from Jesse "Dodge" to the title?)

James Webb Space Telescope penciled in for launch this century. Yes, Dec 18, 2021



>> “Webb is an exemplary mission that signifies the epitome of perseverance,” said Gregory Robinson, the telescope’s program director at NASA.

Surely, he meant to say “Webb is an exemplary mission that signifies the epitome of bureaucratic mismanagement, mission creep, and pork-barreling,” said Gregory Robinson, the telescope’s program director at NASA.

I want good scientific tools as much as the next person, but ... 20x budget overrun and 14 years schedule slippage seem a little extravagant.

Why we abandoned open source: LiveCode CEO on retreat despite successful kickstarter



I'd always wondered if there were other programming languages built on a non-English substrate.

I can certainly see the attraction of writing code using a syntax like:



inclua bibliotexa Matematica

funcao inicio()


inteiro variavel = 123


which would be less intimidating to a native Portuguese speaker, than:



include library Matematica

function main()


integer variavel = 123


Of course, one can argue that English is the lingua franca of science and engineering - but, I am sure, it won't always be so.

Of course, the language mapping might be less of an issue for those who "instinctively" view things like int, char, etc as symbolic than linguistic elements.

Anyone know of other programming languages that use another language or glyph system (Cyrillic, Hiragana, etc) at their core?

TSMC to hike some chip prices 'by as much as 20%'

Paris Hilton

Is El Reg banned (or soo to be banned) in China?

>> ... water ... was in short supply as its home nation was hit by drought.

I'm pretty sure this is a clear example of "historical nihilism" - which, at its essence, is political thoughts with strong political tendencies and intentions that seek to distort the history of modern China's revolution, the CPC and the armed forces under the guise of "reevaluation,"


US boffins: We're close to fusion ignition in the lab – as seen in stars and thermonuclear weapons


Seems like fusion power gets reaching the same milestone

>> This is a notably milestone, the scientists said, because it puts them at the threshold of fusion ignition, which is the point where a fusion reaction becomes self-sustaining

I am pretty sure this milestone has been repeatedly reported over the past 40+ years.

It's almost as if fusion research is stuck in a temporal loop and keep emitting the same press releases.

China warns game devs not to mess with history

Paris Hilton

Re: Good work for game devs, if they don't vanish

How can someone who never existed vanish?

As an aside: hallucinating game devs who never existed is a sure sign of mental illness. Fortunately, re-education centers have a long, proven, track-record in treating such cases. They are very patient and think nothing of spending 10, 20, or more years in treating your delusions.

Amazon Game Studios to its own devs: All your codebase doesn't belong to us


Common practice

Since (at least) the 80s, the following terms have been common in contracts I have been asked to sign: (1) "We own everything you create while you are employed with us - whether on company time or your own time." and (2) "You are prohibited from working in this field for 10 years following termination of employment with this organization."

I have always refused to sign them until they are stricken.

Twitter's AI image-crop algo is biased towards people who look younger, skinnier, and whiter, bounty challenge at DEF CON reveals


Re: Is it the algorithm that's biased?

tfb wrote: So the data he presented to test the algorithm was not skewed by whatever the demographics of Twitter are.

I'll accept the claim that the researcher presented a broad uniform (or reasonably uniform) sample range of facial data to Twitter's algorithm and he observed a non-uniform selection bias.

But Twitter's algorithm is, likely, trained using data from Twitter users - whose demographic is skewed. Therefore, you would expect the algorithm to be skewed in favour of Twitter's predominant demographic. It would take a conscious effort to ensure an "unbiased" training set. But ... by the act of making it "unbiased", you are biasing it against the predominant demographic. Or, to put it in another way, you have to weight higher non-representative users of Twitter than representative users. (And we are not even accounting for general human preference for younger, healthier looking people).

The likely problem is that Twitter's algorithm was trained using the proxies of engagement, likes, and retweets. The correct way to fix this is to actually train an algorithm for face cropping - which means it has to have some notion of what a face is. Unfortunately, no ML or AI has any clue what a face is (or any other object for that matter). See the following articles on how image classification can disrupted).




Anything you put on a face - glasses, glitter, paint, makeup, hat, mask, etc - can make the face classifier think it's a turtle, or toaster, or banana ... or something ....


Is it the algorithm that's biased?

The claim is that the cropping algorithm is biased because it tends to produce crops of "people that appear slim, young, of light or warm skin color and smooth skin texture, and with stereotypically feminine facial traits"

I make the counter-claim that the cropping algorithm has no clue what it is cropping. I further posit that the cropping algorithm was not trained to recognize slimness, youth, skin tone, skin texture, or feminine facial traits, but rather was trained using more mundane metrics like: how long users paused at the image, how many likes the image had, how many shares the image had - since those are things Twitter can reliably measure.

The bias, if any, is in Twitter's users who are more likely to pause at, like, and share images of young, warm and smooth skinned, feminine faced people - something that is easily treatable with a 10 year stay at a Xinjiang re-education camp.

Alternatively, it could be that the "bias" is more reflective of the demographics or Twitter users and their in-group affinity compounded with evolutionary bias for markers for attractiveness (such as youth, and the general air of being healthy).

Consider that the top 20 countries using Twitter could be claimed to have populations that are predominantly "light or warm skinned": (1) USA, (2) Japan, (3) UK, (4) Saudi Arabia, (5) Brazil, (6) Turkey, (7) India, (8) Indonesia, (9) Russia, (10) Mexico, (11) Spain, (12) France, (13) Canada, (14) Philippines, (15) Thailand, (16) Australia, (17) South Korea, (18) Germany, (19) Argentina, (20) Malaysia.

(Source: https://blog.hootsuite.com/twitter-demographics/)

As well, 62.6% of Twitter users are between 13 and 34 years old. (same source as above).

I also posit, that people are more likely to tweet flattering images of themselves than unflattering ones.

I don't deny there are, probably, people who post a picture of decrepit homeless men, passed out drunk in an alley, but that's not as likely to garner as much engagement as a healthy, young woman, laughing at a party.

Perl's Community Affairs Team chair quits as org put on ice by code language's foundation

Paris Hilton

Re: Software Communism

It's not about the Left (or the Right), it's about "are you adding value to the product or service or are you rearranging the furniture?" Just because you're "doing something", doesn't mean it is useful, relevant, or, even, the right thing to be doing.



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