* Posts by JacobZ

164 publicly visible posts • joined 26 Nov 2014


Dumping us into ad tier of Prime Video when we paid for ad-free is 'unfair' – lawsuit


Re: Query: the timing of ads

The ads seem to be inserted automatically rather than by a human editor choosing an appropriate slot or even matching the ad break timing originally designed for linear TV. As a result they routinely break scenes 5 to 10 seconds too early, even mid-sentence in some cases.

FWIW other ad-supported streamers are no better.

If they're going to monetize us, they could at least be less shoddy about it.

IBM overhauls rewards program for staff inventions, wipes away cash points


Blue Points

The replacement system of Blue Points, which can be collected a number of ways, allows employees to exchange their points for a wide variety of cheap tat with an IBM logo.


Re: Why why oh why

It's adorable that you think the contract is negotiable for anybody but the most highly desired talent. John or Jane Engineer is getting the standard contract or no job.

What's the golden age of online services? Well, now doesn't suck


Re: MySpace

The Internet died long before MySpace. Some of us are old enough to remember The September That Never Ended.

Chromebooks are problematic for profits and planet, says Lenovo exec


Re: chromebooks suck

I have exactly the same positive experience. I bought a really cheap ($100-ish) small Lenovo Chromebook as an experiment (I had quit work, returned my work laptops, and needed something for away from home). I was so happy with it that I bought a second one (Acer) with a larger screen and more powerful processor. It's ideal for travel e.g. for finding local restaurants, checking opening times for attractions, and all sorts of online stuff. I also use it for writing in cafés without having to be paranoid about it getting swiped (there's no personal info on the local drive) or having coffee spilled on it.

Also, I never have to worry about updates or driver compatibility or any of that crap. It just works nearly all the time. And if anything does go badly wrong, a reset is quick and easy. Basically, it's the admin ease of a phone with the screen and keyboard and capability of a laptop.

And for the tech purists, it's Linux under the covers. It's kind of weird to see the Reg crowd defending Windows and Mac over a true Linux machine!

The only thing I don't use it for is running a development environment (although reportedly plenty of people do) as I need Windows for my test environment, so a desktop makes sense for that.

Steve Jobs' $4.01 RadioShack check set to fetch small fortune at auction


The 1/100 format is very much not an anachronism. Everybody I know uses that format (for the few checks we still write).

The only time I see the dollars.cents format is on printed checks.


Re: Why wasn't the check cashed?..it was either not deposited or it bounced.

Deutsche Bank has entered the chat.

DevTernity conference collapses amid claims women speakers were faked


Re: What for?

Not just hard-up FOSS projects. When I worked for IBM, we reckoned that the biggest reason to attend a conference was to meet face-to-face with our IBM colleagues.

50 years ago, Skylab's accidental rebels put Mission Control on mute



I had no idea there were so few missions to Skylab, nor that it was designed for such a short life.

Australian video-streamer lets users opt out of ads for burgers, booze, and betting


Targeted advertising?

If targeted advertising does what it says on the box, why is it necessary for people to explicitly opt out of ads for burgers, booze, and betting?

IBM Software tells workers: Get back to the office three days a week


I worked at IBM and I'm here to call BS

I was relocated by IBM to Raleigh so that I could "have more contact with my colleagues". I was a product manager, and my dev team were mostly in Poughkeepsie, with other labs in Germany, India and China. My product management colleagues were mostly in Austin and California. The colleagues including the sellers and customers I worked closely with were everywhere on the planet.

Even my immediate manager was in Pittsburgh, although he did come to Raleigh a couple of days a month. His manager was in New York.

At first I went into the office pretty regularly (although I always left around 2:30 to pick up my son from school, and work from home the rest of the day.) By the end I was going in only on the days my manager was in town. And even then I would spend maybe two hours a day with him, and the rest in my windowless office with the door closed, working online or on conference calls.

The whole premise is BS.

OpenAI's ChatGPT has a left wing bias – at times


Training day

If there is any bias - and I doubt that there is, I think that the problem here is the definition of "bias" - it is, as many have said, in the training data.

The creators of LLMs try to train them on "high quality" data, e.g. Wikipedia not Conservapedia. And let's be honest, 99.9% of right-leaning content - far in excess of Sturgeon's Law - is crap. And much of it is intentionally crap, designed to mislead and undermine known scientific facts.

In today's America, things that are factual are dubbed "left" regardless of what their content is. Twenty years ago, Karl Rove referred to opponents of the Bush administration as "the reality-based community" - and he meant derisively. Twent years later, here we are...

Beer icon because I need one.


Re: disentangling these two components (training data versus algorithm)

"a simple inspection of the source code would reveal this"

I very much doubt it would. One of the challenges of LLMs / generative AIs is that the way they arrive at their results is utterly opaque even to their creators. It's hard enough to spot subtle biases in entirely traditional scientific computational algorithms. Unless there is some absolutely obvious smoking gun Lean Left filter in the code, there could very easily be bias, accidental or intentional, that even an expert would find hard to identify.

If there is any bias - and I doubt that there is, I think that the problem here is the definition of "bias" - it is, as you say, in the training data. The creators of LLMs try to train them on "high quality" data, e.g. Wikipedia not Conservapedia, and let's be honest, 99.9% of right-leaning content is crap.


Reality has a well-known left wing bias

Acknowledging the reality of climate change, vaccine effectiveness, the history of slavery, police racism, etc. etc. etc. is not left-wing bias, even though these facts are supported by the left and denied by the right.

Just because the Right has taken a Lemming's Leap off the derp [sic] end, it does not mean that we have to pretend that factual neutrality still lies midway between the two main parties.

Anbody interested in more on this should google* "overton window".

*Other brands of search engine are available.

Tech CEO admits role in tricking Qualcomm into $150M takeover


Re: This long??

It's possible somebody came across the patent while doing due dilligence, maybe on a related filing, and recognized the name. Just a guess.

A room-temperature, ambient-pressure superconductor? Take a closer look


The currently best known high-temperature superconductor...

...is LaH10 at 170 GPa wit a critical temperature of 250K (roughly -23C).

Ambient pressure is approximately 100kPa.

So to have achieved such a reduction of the required pressure by several orders of magnitude would be beyond astonishing.

It will be wonderful if this replicates, but this falls into the "extraordinary claims/extraordinary proof" category of skepticism.


Re: Apatite

Irregular expression?

Large language models' surprise emergent behavior written off as 'a mirage'


Re: Intelligence

So your assertion is that the only two possibilities are "understanding of our physical world" or "random construct of words and letters"? No wonder you are confused.

The key to LLMs is that their output is a PROBABILISTIC output of words and letters, derived from digesting a massive corpus of human-generated content. They very literally have no conception of a physical world; only word likelihoods.


No Re: Cold Fusion?

After 30+ years, results from Cold Fusion are no better than they were at the beginning, i.e. experimental noise from dirty experiments. And there is still no theoretical framework to explain either how it works or where all the neutrons disappear to.

But sure, it's all a massive conspiracy by people opposed to cheap, clean energy.

IBM launches Watsonx to help enterprises streamline workers out the door


Watsonx is a tool for creating x-employees.

Attackers hit Bitcoin ATMs to steal $1.5 million in crypto cash


No honour among thieves

"You've got your exploit in my scam!"

"No, you've got your scam in my exploit!"

Ex-Meta security staffer accuses Greece of spying on her phone



I have a cynical suspicion that El Reg completely fabricated this story just for the subhead.

FTX inner circle helped itself to $3.2B, liquidators say



Article: "Salame has also not been charged, having reportedly been a whistleblower who tipped Bahamian officials off to financial malfeasance at FTX."

Was his tip "Hey, these people are paying me $87M they don't have"?

Hyundai and Kia issue software upgrades to thwart killer TikTok car theft hack


Ullo John, Gotta New Motor

Them locks are easy!


Big three cloud giants tighten grip as overall spending slows


No surprise

If you look at any significant enterprise IT market of the last forty years or so, they often become dominated by three major companies with a bunch of much smaller also-rans - or as I like to say, three gorillas and a bunch of monkeys.

And often this is because there are three key criteria that define the market players, say most scalable, cheapest, and first to bring new features, and one gorilla leads on each dimension. And the market typically remains "metastable", which is to say stable until some really significant and rapid change opens an opportunity for somebody to displace one of the gorillas before they can react.

What's called Grogu but isn't that cute? Google's leaked answer to Apple AirTags


Ooh, just what I need

A way to share even more information about my whereabouts and movements with Google. Perfect.

Well, until Google pulls the plug on yet another short-lived software/hardware service.

Euro-cops shut down crypto scam that bilked millions from unwitting punters



Surely "crypto scam" is tautological. The "scam" part is entirely superfluous.

IBM shifts remaining US-based AIX dev jobs to India – source


Re: Redundancy relocation

There are some specific workloads where AIX performance is substantially better, e.g. traditional analytics.

There are also some long-standing mission-critical workloads that absolutely nobody wants to touch, least of all to port from AIX's near-Unix implementation to Linux. (Somebody once explained AIX to me as "imagine you'd never seen Unix, but somebody had described it to you over a noisy phone line...").



"Fortunately, I don't deal with L3 and developers for AIX any more (at least in my current role), so I won't have to face the problems of describing a difficult problem to someone for whom English is not their first language"

On the plus side, at least you would be describing it to somebody with a broader worldview than an American.

You might also get exposed to some lovely contributions to the English language originating in that part of a world, for example "prepone", said when bringing a meeting forward.

CES Worst in Show slams gummi gouging, money-wasting mugs, and other dubious kit


Re: A gummy printer?

A whole new twist on the old "this chewing gum tastes terrible" joke. (If you don't know the joke, ask an old person).

Quantum entanglement discovery could enable futuristic comms tech, Nuclear physicists say


I don't know if that was supposed to be funny? If it was serious, it is wrong in every important way.

US Dept of Energy set to reveal fusion breakthrough


Re: Might now be 20 years away

"Lots of unnecessary pessimism about this topic among all comments. It will be just one step at a time and it will take years."

ITYM "necessary pessimism" since we all agree that this just one step and it will take years. By contrast, the mainstream press is going gaga over this, wildly overstating it's significance - it's a milestone, not a breakthrough - so realistic pushback (not cynicism) is entirely appropriate.

IBM to fire Watson IoT Platform from its cloud



Hmmm, maybe sticking the Watson brand on unrelated offerings isn't a magic guarantee of success after all.

Twitter engineer calls out Elon Musk for technical BS in unusual career move


Firing all the wrong people

I'm sure that Elon's strategy of firing anybody who proves that they know what they are doing is going to work out just fine. [/sarcasm, for the hard of thinking in the back of the room]

And for all those people saying "don't be insurbordinate": none of this would happen if Elon had not criticized their work *very publicly* while at the same time being *very wrong*. Whenever somebody wrongly criticized my work to an audience, I always defended it to the same audience. Instead of proclaiming nonsense from the top of the mountain Elon should have asked privately and internally what the issue was; and then tweeted something like "According to my head of infra, the slowness is caused by ... and we are looking into fixes."

As for employability: hell yes I would absolutely hire these people. Deferring to job titles and the Highest Paid Person in the room (aka the Hippo) is how projects die.

Intel’s axed Optane biz spurts out mixed bag of new SSDs



How long do we have to wait for clearance sales on remaining Optane stock? I can always use a decently fast SSD with high endurance, especially as my older SSDs are reaching the ends of their lifetimes.

Intel plans to cut products — we guess where they’ll happen



Anything software will be on the block, especially if it can't show that it promotes sales of Intel - and only Intel - silicon. For example DAOS; technically it's open source so somebody else could pick it up, but Intel will stop staffing it.

Intel has little patience and even less success with software at the best of times, and these are very much not the best of times.


Re: alternative architectures

Another reason for the failure of Itanium is that while it was being developed, x86 processors got very good indeed at optimizing instruction throughput with out-of-order execution, speculative branching, and other clever "tricks". Those same optimizations turn out to be extremely difficult to achieve with the Itanium architecture. This in large part is what Knuth's comment was getting at.

This reply on StackOverflow gets into more of the details: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/1011760/what-are-the-technical-reasons-behind-the-itanium-fiasco-if-any

Google kills forthcoming JPEG XL image format in Chromium


Anti-SLAPP for patents Re: Are google planning on pushing AV1 Image File Format (AVIF) instead ?

Sounds like you are advocating for a Patent equivalent of the anti-SLAPP process that exists in many US states as a fast and effective deterrent to abusive libel or slander suits.

A SLAPP lawsuit is one where the abuser hopes to shut down criticism because the other party cannot afford the expensive and lengthy legal process to defend their freedom of speech. Anti-SLAPP laws provide a rapid resolution of obviously abusive lawsuits with, in many cases, costs imposed on the plaintiff.

Something similar for patents would allow people to quickly and cheaply challenge obviously flawed patents, and again penalize the patent holder if, for example, they failed to disclose well-known prior art in their patent application.

RIP: Kathleen Booth, the inventor of assembly language


Add her to the list

The creator of computer science, the founder of modern systems programming, the founder of business-oriented programming, the inventor of assembly language, the list goes on and on.

Google's Alphabet to review every project after $6bn decline in profits


Parkinson's Law predicted this

The bigger the company, the higher the overhead of management, admin processes, unnecessary meetings, bureaucracy, power politics, etc. etc.

Google is encountering the same diminishing returns on hiring that every other company since the modern corporation has suffered, as documented decades ago in Parkinson's Law. We greybeards could have told them that, if they hadn't replaced us all with younger digital natives.

How Citrix dropped the ball on Xen ... according to Citrix



As well as being honest, this is the kind of openness and frankness that the open source community need to see if they are ever to trust Citrix again. After all, nobody smart would trust Citrix with a future freemium model if they didn't believe it had learned lessons from Xen.

Don't say Pentium or Celeron anymore, it's just Processor now, says Intel


Who talks like this?

Do marketing people in tech have any idea how weird they sound when they write or say these things? Can they not sound like an authentic human being?

“Intel is committed to driving innovation to benefit users, and our entry-level processor families have been crucial for raising the PC standard across all price points,” Josh Newman, VP and interim general manager of Mobile Client Platforms at Intel, said in a canned statement.

And my absolute favorite:

“This update streamlines brand offerings across PC segments to enable and enhance Intel customer communication on each product’s value proposition, while simplifying the purchasing experience for customers,” the chipmaker explained.

The word "explained" is doing a lot of work there...

Microsoft Outlook sends users back to 1930 with (very) mini-Millennium-Bug glitch



Many early databases also stored the date as two digits (or at least defaulted to that - Oracle 6 and earlier, I think?). Consequently, you ended up with windowing logic in the application itself in order to slide the 100 year range available to the coder to an application-appropriate window.

Rest in peace, Queen Elizabeth II – Britain's first high-tech monarch


Re: "the only person in England who never had to take a driving test" ?

Yes, and: a number of people who drove army vehicles in World War II were "grandfathered in" to a civvie license when they were demobbed, without ever taking a test.

(On a related note, Elizabeth drove an army ambulance during the war, although I assume they didn't let the heir to the throne near anything too dangerous.)

Goodbye, humans: Call centers 'could save $80b' switching to AI


Re: But they already do...

Several of the companies I deal with as a consumer identify all of this almost instantly from my caller id. You don't need an AI or even a chatbot for that. AmEx is an example of actually doing this right.


Not saving at all

By "save $80B" they mean "push $80B in costs onto the customer, who will pay for it in wasted time, increased frustration, abandoned attempts to get help with problems, and failing to get billing problems resolved".

Arm sues Qualcomm over custom Nuvia CPU cores, wants designs destroyed


Not looking good for Qualcomm

If it's true, as ARM claims, that Qualcomm initially acknowledged the restrictions and said it would stop using the Nuvia designs, it's going to be hard for them to argue otherwise now.

Woman forced to sell 4-bed house after crypto exchange wrongly refunded $7.2m



In particular, there is a law *very specific* to New York state that says if somebody repays a loan you have every right to assume they did so intentionally. And in this case, the loan was repaid to the penny so the lenders (there were several) rationally assumed that the borrower had refinanced, shrugged, and went with it.


Massive Nope

Not even remotely the same.

In general the law (in many jurisdictions) very clearly says that if you receive money that is obviously not yours and obviously a mistake, you don't get to keep it.

In the case you are referencing, a borrower accidentally paid back a loan it was owed, and the very specific law in New York state says that if somebody mistakenly pays you what they owe you and you reasonably believe it was intentional, you don't have to undo their mistake.

So completely different.

ALSO - *both* parties in that case were rich and powerful, which completely undercuts your so-called point.

Micro Focus bought by Canada's OpenText for $6b


Highgate Cemetery

So many great names lie buried under Micro Focus. It is the Highgate Cemetery of software companies.