* Posts by Ciaran McHale

66 posts • joined 25 Jul 2007

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Tech Bro CEO lays off 900 people in Zoom call and makes himself the victim

Ciaran McHale

Re: Glassdoor...

Unfortunately, the UK IR35 law is an ambiguous mess. I agree that a rolling contract is often disguised employment, but I don't think that is always the case. The French law to prevent disguised employment is much more clear-cut than the UK IR35 law. In France, you can be a contractor at a single client for a maximum of 2 or 3 years (I forget which). After that, the client either has to make you a permanent employee or you have to stop working with that client for a certain time period.

Ciaran McHale

Re: staying in contracting from now on.

The voting buttons appear on the bottom left in Firefox on Linux. Perhaps they appear in a different location on a mobile browser.

Ciaran McHale

Re: Glassdoor...

Perhaps that is the typical meaning. But in my case I chose to take time off so I could focus on finishing writing the documentation for some open-source software that I wanted to release in a mature state (www.config4star.org).

Ciaran McHale

Re: Glassdoor...

I don't know if I would have made more or less money if I was a permie rather than a contractor at the company. However, I explicitly wanted to be a contractor because I was developing some software (unrelated to my client's business) in my spare time, and being a contractor meant I owned the copyright to that software by default. If I was a permie, I would have had to ask for permission to own the copyright to the software. Such permission-seeking had been a nightmare in the previous company where I had been a permie.

Ciaran McHale

Re: Glassdoor...

Your experience appears to not be wide enough for you to be making generalisations. For example, I fit into neither of those two categories. I was a permie for 15 years, and after a career sabbatical I went contracting. My first contract was on a 6-month rolling basis, and it kept getting extended for several years. At that company, I was far from being the only contractor whose contract kept getting renewed.

Amazon says Elon Musk's wicked, wicked ways mean SpaceX's Starlink 2.0 should not be allowed to fly

Ciaran McHale

From what I have read on the Internet, I get the impression that some countries are more prone to employee exploitation than others, and hence can benefit more from having unions. So when you say something to the effect of, "unions were useful 40 years ago but are not so useful now", I think you should indicate which country you are referring to.

Ciaran McHale

Re: Space is BIG and satellites aren't

I don't know much about space, rockets and satellites, so I can't comment on how big is the problem you mention. However, given the context of the article, it seems you are claiming it is bad for SpaceX in particular to be causing this problem and it would be less bad if another company caused the problem instead. I don't follow the logic of that.

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

Ciaran McHale

The example given seems to be incorrect

It seems to me there is an error in the example in the paper (and reproduced in the article) claiming to show how what appears to be just a Python comment is really a comment followed by a "return" statement.

I had a look at the paper, and it explains that the "RLI" Unicode character (right-to-left isolate) will "Force treating following text as right-to-left without affecting adjacent text" until this mode is cancelled by another command or (in the case of the example code) a newline character. This right-to-left display happens not at the level of words, but rather at the level of individual characters. Thus, the line:

''' Subtract funds from bank account then RLI''' ;return

should appear in a text editor as:

''' Subtract funds from bank account then nruter; '''

Pi calculated to '62.8 trillion digits' with a pair of 32-core AMD Epyc chips, 1TB RAM, 510TB disk space

Ciaran McHale

Re: they are now the last known digits of Pi

Innumeracy affects 8 out of every 5 people.

Realizing this is getting out of hand, Coq mulls new name for programming language

Ciaran McHale

Re: There are two hard problems in Computer Science

> Shirley knowing how and when to use technical terms properly is one of the very definitions of being a Professional

My Google search failed to find that definition in an online dictionary. And don't call me Shirley.

Activist millionaires protest outside Jeff Bezos' homes to support tax rises for the rich

Ciaran McHale

Re: A useful little test

You seem to be talking about the USA, but things might be a bit different in the UK, as I now explain. In the UK, "tax evasion" refers to an ILLEGAL way to not pay tax, and "tax avoidance" is a LEGAL way to not pay tax. So, the statements "tax avoidance is completely legal" is correct, as is the statement "tax evasion is illegal".

In an effort to encourage people to save/invest, the UK government has "ISA" (individual savings accounts) which is a tax avoidance wrapper around saving/investing accounts. You can put in up to £20,000 per year into an ISA. Whatever gains you get in an ISA are completely tax free.

Clearly, ISA is a (legal) tax avoidance scheme that is ENCOURAGED by the government (rather than being a loophole they have failed to close). I have several books on my shelves on topics such as "how to reduce taxes for a small business" and "how to pass on your wealth to your kids to reduce inheritance tax". Such books provide numerous examples of (legal and even encouraged) tax avoidance.

Contributions into a pension fund are free-of-income tax, and when you reach retirement age you can take out 25% of the fund tax free (again, legal and encouraged tax avoidance), and then take out the remainder at your then tax rate. Since a person is likely to have a lower income during retirement than during their working years, the "deferred tax payment" of a pension is also a form of (partial and encouraged) tax avoidance.

I haven't bothered to read the entire thread you and Anonymous Coward are participating in, but I figured I should explain the above in case differences in laws in different countries might be partially fuelling the anger.

Some tax avoidance techniques are of the "uninended loopholes that haven't been closed yet" variety, but some other tax avoidance techniques are of the "the government ENCOURAGES you to use this to reduce taxes" variety.

Ciaran McHale

I agree that protesting outside of Bezos' home is somewhat illogical. However, since he is one of the richest people around, he is a symbol of wealth. The protestors are probably hoping to get more media attention by incorporating that symbolism into their protest. It's less about "logic" and more about "a good publicity tactic".

Ciaran McHale

Re: $1M a year — is that a lot?

I don't disagree with you. But my comment was in response to a scenario in which a person earns $10M a year. With that sort of money, it should be possible to live on a fraction of $1M and let compound growth work wonders on the other $9.xM.

Ciaran McHale

Re: $1M a year — is that a lot?

Several books including "The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy" and "The New Elite: Inside the Minds of the Truly Wealthy" suggest that the majority of millionaires and billionaires are first-generation wealthy.

Ciaran McHale

Re: $1M a year — is that a lot?

"suppose you make, oh, $10M a year, every year! [...] Then lucky you, it will only take a century for you to have a billion dollars".

Wealth accumulation rarely occurs in a linear manner. Rather, the money is invested in, say, a high-interest bank account (if such things still exist), index funds, the stock market, growing your company, and so on. Compound growth on the investment over a few years/decades can do wonders.

Ciaran McHale

Re: Tax avoidance costs

"there's nothing to stop them writing a large check to the IRS each year".

Perhaps they do. And perhaps they make large donations to charity. Doing such things is compatible with them trying to change tax laws so rich people pay more taxes.

Guy who wrote women are 'soft, weak, cosseted, naive' lasted about a month at Apple until internal revolt

Ciaran McHale

Re: "I'm actually honest, self-deprecating, and funny"

The following link provides 9 different explanations about the inoffensive meaning of "Black Lives Matter": https://www.vox.com/2016/7/11/12136140/black-all-lives-matter

Ciaran McHale

Re: "I'm actually honest, self-deprecating, and funny"

The "Black Lives Matter" slogan was intended to mean "Black Lives Matter TOO" rather than "ONLY Black Lives Matter".

Ciaran McHale

Re: Inclusive must mean that we only include things that we like...

Your argument has a weakness due to the "what you know is all there is" psychological heuristic. You are assuming that Apple fired the guy "just because [...]", but there might have been other reasons for the firing (if, indeed, he was fired; apparently both he and Apple have declined to comment on the reason for him leaving Apple). For example, perhaps several employees reported him to HR for sexist/racist behaviour on the job.

Also, your assertion about inclusivity ignores the paradox of tolerance (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance).

Elon Musk hits the brakes on taking Bitcoin for Tesla purchases

Ciaran McHale

Re: Odd that

The trend over the past few years in many countries has been towards renewal energy (solar, wind, hydro and so on). We might expect that in another few years/decades, most/all electricity will be generated via a renewable source. At that point, bitcoin mining will be eco friendly.

Preliminary report on Texas Tesla crash finds Autosteer was 'not available' along road where both passengers died

Ciaran McHale

Re: Ban it

>does it constantly tell HQ everything?? (major privacy issue!!)

I agree. But I don't see how this is worse than the privacy issues associated with owning a smartphone, using Google or Facebook (and many other websites).

Samsung aims first 512GB DDR5 DRAM chip built on High-K/Metal Gate tech at HPC, AI markets

Ciaran McHale

Re: Fully Stacked

Sod that. I want to see one of these in the next generation of Raspberry Pi. ;-)

Richard Stallman says he has returned to the Free Software Foundation board of directors and won't be resigning again

Ciaran McHale

It is impossible for any utopian vision to fully succeed across a wide population, because only a subset of the population will buy into it fully. Stallman's "free software" is a utopian vision that illustrates this. Some people bought into it fully, while others bought into only a subset of the vision, and hence there was the "open source" faction that splintered off, and later the Creative Commons faction that had an even more watered down concept of what open/free means. Unfortunately, it is common for a person who believes in one particular faction to label people in other factions as "extremists", "sell-outs" or some other disrespectful term. Unfortunately, it is also common for criticisms to focus on a perceived failings in a person's characteristics (rudeness, personal hygiene, appearance, promiscuous etc) rather than perceived flaws in the person's utopian vision.

ICYMI: A mom is accused of harassing daughter's cheerleader rivals with humiliating deepfake vids

Ciaran McHale

Might a charge of child pornography be brought against the woman?

Does a photo of a naked female (presumably above the age of consent) with a deep-fake photo of an under-the-age-of-consent teenage girl's face super-imposed upon it count as child pornography? If so, does anyone know why such a charge has not yet been brought against the woman?

Apple's M1: the fastest and bestest ever silicon = revolution? Nah, there's far more interesting stuff happening in tech that matters to everyone

Ciaran McHale

Re: Shortsighted analysis

https://www.zdnet.com/article/the-new-m1-macs-make-cutting-edge-machine-learning-workstations/

Ciaran McHale

Re: I fear that too much shiny is taking a toll on some people's attention span.

I agree that "moving data" can refer to many different use cases. But one of those use cases is moving data between the CPU and GPU. Apple silicon provides a very impressive way of dealing with that specific use case. The author of the article dismissed Apple silicon as being uninteresting because he claimed it offered no improvement for moving data, yet he completely ignored its impressive moving-data accomplishment. This suggests that (independent of the merits or otherwise of Apple silicon) the article was not well researched/written.

Ciaran McHale

Re: Wow.

The Register has a history of mocking the first few generations of Apple products in a new line. This included the iPod and iPhone. So it is unsurprising that this tend continues with Apple silicon.

Ciaran McHale

Re: I fear that too much shiny is taking a toll on some people's attention span.

One of the reasons Apple silicon is so fast is that that the RAM embedded in the SOC is shared between the CPU and GPU, and this removes the need to move/copy data between the two.

Ciaran McHale

Shortsighted analysis

If the only laptop/desktop products Apple were to make with its new silicon were the three already released, then the author of the article might have a point. But it seems likely that Apple will release desktop/workstation machines with even faster silicon and more RAM. Some people will appreciate faster webpage loading or faster games, but the big win for Apple is likely to come from niche application areas in which an Apple silicon-based computer is as fast as other computers costing, say, five times as much. Machine learning (ML) might be such a niche area: https://www.zdnet.com/article/the-new-m1-macs-make-cutting-edge-machine-learning-workstations/

Although ML is niche, it is a large and quickly growing niche. Perhaps Apple will even produce blades containing multiple SOCs for use in data centres. If Apple can compete successfully in the ML/data-centre niches, expect its stock price to rise significantly. And also expect other CPU manufacturers to start designing CPU+GPU+RAM SOCs to compete against Apple silicon. So, yes, I would say Apple Silicon has a good chance of being revolutionary.

For what it's worth, I don't own any Apple products (I prefer Linux and use a dumb phone).

Rust marks five years since its 1.0 release: The long and winding road actually works

Ciaran McHale

Re: On speed

I think either Eclectic Man misphrased his comment or you misread it. He was talking about the square root of a 17,000-digit number, while you talked about the square root of a number to 17,000 decimal places. Or am I missing something?

Qualcomm names its Windows 10 ARM PC partners

Ciaran McHale

Re: All day x86 is already here

According to a news article (http://www.zdnet.com/article/computex-2017-always-connected-pc-sounds-great-but-well-have-to-wait/), these ARM-powered machines will: (1) have motherboards about 30% smaller than those in Intel-powered machines (due to the Snapdragon 835 being a system on a chip), so manufacturers can make smaller/slimmer devices or fit more components into a device; (2) have about 50% better battery life than comparable Intel-powered machines (because apparently "the Snapdragon 835 only draws around 3 to 5 watts") and "should last four- to five-times longer on standby."; and (3) "should perform at roughly the same level as laptops with Core m3 or fan-less implementations of Core i5". Whether or not such hype pans out in reality is anyone's guess.

I'm assuming that the Snapdragon 835 will be considerably cheaper than an Intel CPU, so this *might* result in cheaper laptops. But then again, it might just result in higher profitability for the laptop manufacturers.

The Psion returns! Meet Gemini, the 21st century pocket computer

Ciaran McHale

Re: Keyboard

You can clearly see the (sadly deficient for coding) keyboard layout by making the video on the Indiegogo page full screen size and pausing at 1:18. Some symbol characters frequently used in coding are missing: "{", "}", "[", "]", "|", "<" and ">". Some Many others are in non-standard positions: "+", "-", ",", "_", ":", ";", "\", "~", "?", "." and single quote.

Caption this: WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

Ciaran McHale

Rob used a 3D printer to create a case with built-in heatsink for the PDP 11 motherboard he bought on eBay.

Ciaran McHale

The widescreen television hanging on the wall was impressively slim, but the remote control was a bit bulky.

Ciaran McHale

Friedland's prototype wireless doorbell push button was bulky, but it had amazing range.

Ciaran McHale

Honey, I won the eBay auction for the giant door knob with a built-in magazine rack.

WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

Ciaran McHale

Some fertility websites provide dubious tips for increasing the chances of conception.

Scotland Yard pulls eyeballs off WikiLeaker-in-Chief Assange

Ciaran McHale

Re: "However it is no longer proportionate to commit officers to a permanent presence"

One possibility is that GCHC have dveloped a "reliable enough" automated technology for monitoring who leaves the embassy building, and that this automated technology is cheaper to deploy than round-the-clock police guards. For example, the technology might involve a video camera and face recognition software.

Another, complementary possibility is that GCHQ might have found a way to install monitoring devices (e.g., microphones, cameras, motion detectors, and so on) in the rooms within the embassy where Assange is living. When those devices indicate he has left those rooms, a silent alarm goes off that notifies the police to be on the lookout for a bail dodger.

WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

Ciaran McHale

When the Skype call connected, Jesus said, "Peter, I can see your house from here."

Another chance to win a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive

Ciaran McHale

Although commonly used, the "love at first bite" tactic is not always reliable.

Ciaran McHale

Just as her date rings the doorbell, Sarah realises her new tatoo does not colour coordinate with her prom dress.

Amazon to trash Flash, as browsers walk away

Ciaran McHale

Why does The Register still use flash?

YouTube providers users with an option to use Flash or HTML5 for videos. I can't find a similar option for The Register; instead, all videos seem to be in Flash. Did I miss something in the configuration settings? Or am I right in thinking that The Register uses only Flash for embedded videos? If so, why isn't The Register moving away from Flash?

Sarong it's right: Coining it in Thailand without a visa

Ciaran McHale

Re: Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

I'm guessing that one way such a company might work would be similar to the contractor umbrella companies in the UK that help VAT-registered self-employed contractors avoid IR35 transgressions. Those umbrella companies take a small-ish fee (my hazy recollection is about £30 per month) for doing the paperwork. They also take the 20% VAT that the contractor adds to invoices, pay about three-quarters of that (I forget the exact figure) to HMRC and keep the other quarter of the VAT for administration overheads. This (perfectly legal) skimming of the VAT gives the umbrella company significantly more income than the £30/month fee charged to the contractor.

Xerox copier flaw changes numbers in scanned docs

Ciaran McHale

Same problem at higher resolutions?

Printers can occasionally produce imperfect pages due to, for example, a drum that is nearing the end of its useful life, or a bit of spilled toner inside the machine (perhaps due to a paper jam that occurred earlier). Such imperfections in a printed page, combined with an unsafe optimisation in the photocopier make me skeptical that this problem will be limited to low-resolution copies.

W3C squeezes XML into portability

Ciaran McHale

Re: Why XML is good

Peter X wrote: 'But don't misinterpret "human readable" as meaning it is intended to be consumed by end-users.'

Section 1.1 of the XML specification lists the original design goals for XML.

http://www.w3.org/TR/xml/#sec-origin-goals

Number 6 in the list is: "XML documents should be human-legible and reasonably clear." There is nothing in the wording to suggest that "human-legible" is inapplicable to, say, end users, so I disagree with you on that point. Even leaving end users aside, XML fails the human-legible test for the significant portion of techies who find it difficult to understand languages (such as XML, LISP, PostScript and Forth) that try to unify many concepts into a minimal amount of syntax.

Peter X went on to write, "Is XML efficient? Nope. But that wasn't the intent. But it is useful as a data exchange format that's easy to work with -- easy as in lower barrier to entry."

I agree with you on this point, but I find it very frustrating that much of the IT industry has been willing to settle on something as mediocre as XML simply because it's slightly less bad than its predecessors.

Ciaran McHale
Boffin

Readibility of XML

"XML is good at being human readable". Actually, no.

Some programming languages, such as C++ and Java, employ a wide variety of syntax. Some other programming languages, such as LISP, PostScript and Forth, make use of a unifying concept that dramatically reduces the amount of syntax in the language. For example, LISP treats almost everything as a list: data, function calls, function definitions, mathematical expressions, if-then-else statements and so on. PostScript and Forth both treat almost everything as operations on a stack.

XML is another language that tries to unify many dissimilar concepts into a small amount of syntax. In XML's case, the unifying concept is that everything can be represented by an element and/or attribute.

A significant subset of humans find such highly unified languages to be elegant. But another significant subset of humans find such highly unified languages to be frustratingly confusing.

So the claim that, "XML is good at being human readable" is wrong for a significant subset of people.

Man jailed after cops uncover 'crack in bum'

Ciaran McHale

Name of the teenager

I was disappointed to read that the teenager's name was David. If it had been Dawn, then the headline might have been, "Police were up at the crack of Dawn".

Ofcom okays Derren Brown psychic-baiting

Ciaran McHale
Joke

Prediction

So, "Ofcom has not upheld Mr Power’s complaint of unfair treatment in the programme as broadcast."

It is surprising that Mr Power was not able to predict that outcome.

Top secret payload fired into orbit aboard private rocket

Ciaran McHale
Paris Hilton

Missed opportunity

He missed an opportunity to put a paper plane into the payload as a form of one-upmanship on The Register.

Telco sets honey pot for nuisance marketers

Ciaran McHale

Telecrapper 2K

Several years ago, somebody in America developed a PC-based hardware and software combination that he called the Telecrapper 2000. Basically, he recorded a sequence of short sound files (things like "Hello", "I'm sorry, it's a bad line; please speak louder", "That sounds interesting; does it come with a guarantee?" and so on). The computer had a configuration file that specified the order in which the sound files would be played. His computer detected a telemarketing call via a some sort of back list or white list, and when it received such a call, the computer played the first sound file, Then a microphone waited until the telemarketer said something and then paused. At the pause, the computer played the next sound file, and this went on and on until the telemarketer hung up. The computer recorded these conversations, and some hilarious ones that involved surreal and very silly sound files were uploaded to various websites.

You can find a few of the recordings on YouTube. Start here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ko99DBKlCNk&feature=related

Somebody did a cartoon animation of one of those recordings, and you can find it here.

http://www.guzer.com/animations/telecrapper.php

Regards,

Ciaran.

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