* Posts by Ptol

65 posts • joined 19 May 2015

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Top doctors slam Google for not backing up incredible claims of super-human cancer-spotting AI

Ptol

Diagnosis as a service

Surely if Google published a webservice that you could submit a sample and receive a non clinical assessment on that sample, then we could effectively run an extended trial of this service over time.

That being google, one could still wonder whether the service software and model data remain constant over time, or were constantly being "improved"

Why cloud costs get out of control: Too much lift and shift, and pricing that is 'screwy and broken'

Ptol

Lift and shift to the cloud

Lift and shift has so much to answer for.

The economics, the operational controls and the observability between on prem and in cloud are so different that any project is planning to do a lift and shift for economic reasons really needs questioning on their planning and decision making.

Once you have done a lift and shift, you are locked into paying for peak capacity, paying for rewriting all of the operational controls and observability layers just to keep your existing customers happy. Then you find that you have peak capacity issues, and the only way to solve them quickly enough is upscale (burn money on the amazon fire). Getting the time and resources to then do the actual engineering to turn an on-prem product into a cloud product doesnt suddenly get funded properly - its budget gets swallowed up to keep the illusion of this great cloud product there in the customers eyes. All of the cloud features that are needed in the MVP product are all support tickets, for someone to do manually, because they were features that could be done by the customer when they had the software in their own office network.

Hold on to your hats, Net Neutrality version 2 is on its way courtesy of Trump and the FCC's moves on Section 230

Ptol

Americanisation of the internet

If the USA want to tear themselves up over their idealistic view of free speech, and the consequences that their laws enables, I'm all for leaving them to it.

However, please make sure that bun fight stays within the borders of the USA and doesn't affect the rest of the world. In the UK the websites are only protected from liability if they do not remove it within 24 hours of being notified that it is libellous or illegal. Not that I have ever seen Facebook remove reported content that is illegal in the UK for being racist hate speech under the race relations act.

Accounting expert told judge Autonomy was wrong not to disclose hardware sales

Ptol

Re: Hardware on the Accounts

I think I'd walk away too...

Been there, done that, when its small bits of kit - and you make a few extra crumbs along the way. Generally for the customer they are wanting to buy something but the actual supplier is not a preferred supplier, so they come to you, their friendly prefered supplier, on the basis that paying an extra $50 saves them the hassle of spending 2 weeks getting yet another preferred supplier agreement in place through purchasing, and they want the kit this week. That makes business sense.

When its a $500k order though, that needs multiple layers of signoff and will have the purchasing team involved. they are coming to you because they cannot buy direct. Perhaps they couldn't get the credit terms, perhaps they have maxed their credit limit with that supplier. Without knowing with 99% confidence why they cannot go direct, this ain't a runner.

Finally, theres the downside consequences of doing the deal. As the smaller business, you will inevitably need to pay the 500K to the supplier before you receive the 550K back from your customer. Is 500K a small enough sum that it wont affect your cash flow? What happens if your customer then doesn't pay your invoice? can you swallow the loss?

This kind of a deal only makes sense if it's small enough that it can go bad with you holding the loss, and you can shrug your shoulders and carry on. Perhaps $1K at a time.

ICANN extracts $20m signing fee for $1bn dot-com price increases – and guess who's going to pay for it?

Ptol

So, if enough top level domain registrars got together, and set up a parallel root DNS registry, then ICANN would lose its monopoly, and then have to consider genuine reform.

You leak our secrets? We'll leak your book sales, speech fees – into our coffers: Uncle Sam wins royalties fight against Edward Snowden

Ptol

passport != citizen

Its common enough for people waiting trial for significant crimes to have to surrender their passport. By cancelling his passport whilst he was in transit in Moscow, the US made it much more difficult for Snowdon to choose his country of exile. The US seem quite happy for him to return back to the USA. in fact i think they have a bed waiting for him.

When is an electrical engineer not an engineer? When Arizona's state regulators decide to play word games

Ptol

Software Engineer nearly losses the war....

Knowing someone who worked with the engineer responsible for the royal navy warships being unable to defend themselves in the falklands war- its very possible for software engineers to make design decisions that have life / death consequences.

Lets just say, having a plane appear in the middle of the radar area could be a sign of a glitching system that needs a reboot - but it could also be a sign that it was following the terrain and has just popped up from behind a hill. When there's a hill involved, having all of the ships defences doing a simultaneous reboot had some pretty disastrous consequences.

20% of UK businesses would rather axe their contractors than deal with IR35 – survey

Ptol

Re: If you're going to treat contractors as employees, kiss the VAT goodbye.

HMRC only receive VAT from the end sale to a non VAT registered entity. However that VAT money flows all the way back up the supply chain, as everyone pays the VAT on their sales, minus the VAT they paid on their costs to HMRC.

Ptol

Re: Dangers of moving from outside to inside IR35

When i graduated University, i did 3 months at a school helping out the IT manager. It was great secops training. My favorite rule was no deliveries accepted between 2:45pm and 3:45pm. More than one lorry driver has been seen chasing kids with boxes down the street.

FYI, we're now in the timeline where Facebook decides who is and isn't a politician on its 2bn-plus-person network

Ptol

In the world of Boaty Mc Boat Face, I can see Adriel Hampton becoming an elected politician. What a great way to run your campaign!

Her Majesty opens UK Parliament with fantastic tales of gigabit-capable broadband for everyone

Ptol

the american cable TV companies blocked us getting fibre 25 years ago....

Yes, and the only reason why we need legislation to get fast broadband is because a previous Tory government prevented BT from rolling out nation wide in the name of competition.

Well, said competition cherry picked the most profitable areas, then they all merged into one company and used their cable monopoly to do just enough to be competitive against BT, but didnt have to try that hard because they had got laws written restricting the services that BT were allowed to deliver.

Careful now, UK court ruling says email signature blocks can sign binding contracts

Ptol

interpretation is important - a digital certificate means only one thing for certain. the contents can be verified as are they the same or different to the contents at the point of signing.

It is possible to place other interpretations on the meaning of the signature such as it was the signer that created the content, or that the signer is in agreement of the contents, but these are mere interpretations, the signature alone is not proof of intent at the moment of signing. Context matters.

Ptol

I think this article was reading way too much into this. It's not an appeal court reading, so its not setting any new precedent - and it is applying the law as it currently stands.

A contractual agreement requires 3 things to exist. They are:

1. A defined offer. (I want to buy that land)

2. Consideration in exchange for the offer. (in exchange for £175k)

3. Acceptance of the deal.

In this case the judge found clear and unambiguous evidence of all three.

reading the case details as linked, the email signature part was just one of the items of evidence referenced by the judge to show that the offer was accepted. It's not clear that the email signature alone would have done so, in the absence of the other details.

We're all doooooomed: Gloomy Brit workforce really isn't coping well with impending Brexit

Ptol

Teresa May's Brexit Deal

I can remember much talk about people making big money with VAT missing trader fraud, shipping goods in and out of the EU repeatedly. Be really easy to do this between Dublin and Belfast and the UK's border solutions....

Margin mugs: A bank paid how much for a 2m Ethernet cable? WTF!

Ptol

Bit pedantic, but with HDMI cables, there is an electrical standard that needs to be met at both ends of the cable, but nothing about the cable length. Cable length is one of the more important things that effect a cables ability to meet the HDMI standards...

A well manufactured and quality (an is built in a reliable, repeatable and tested way) using some exotic materials is the secret to getting a 10-15m HDMI cable that actually works.

Now that's integrity: Bloke sinks 7 beers, turns himself in. Cops weren't looking for him

Ptol

7 bottles of bud is about 3 1/2 british pints, but if he was worried about a parole violation, drinking beer is a parole violation in large parts of the USA - so that's what got him locked up...

The gig (economy) is up: New California law upgrades Lyft, Uber, other app serfs to staff

Ptol

Its about time....

There is a place for independent, self employed professionals, providing consultancy services to multiple customers. However companies have turned this into an employee lite kind of employment. Governments have been fighting back for a couple of decades because it affected their tax revenues, but its only because of the huge number of voters that are now involved that governments are starting to look at the potential for abusive working arrangements.

Let’s face it, even as a highly skilled IT contractor, you take work at the rate of pay, working at times and in the style directed by the end customer.

Female-free speaker list causes PHP show to collapse when diversity-oriented devs jump ship

Ptol

Mostly missing the point...

Diversity on a team is really important. But diversity is not really about the obvious things that vary, the things you can differentiate within meeting someone for 30 seconds, such as their skin colour or their gender identity. Having people with different perspectives on life, different view points, and ensuring that all of the viewpoints are considered on their merit (and not majority group think mentality) is what actually matters.

What i look for in potential recruits in addition to sufficient tech skills are people that are around 85% similar and 15% different from the current team. That way they are similar enough to fit in, but bring something new to the team too.

Here's to beer, without which we'd never have the audacity to Google an error message at 3am

Ptol

I've had a couple of bosses in my early career that would take me out for 3 pints before setting me off on some complex programming stuff. I'd consistently get the core of a complex problem implemented in an afternoon, and spend the following morning dealing with the compiler not recognising my genius (aka syntax errors)

You can easily secure America's e-voting systems tomorrow. Use paper – Bruce Schneier

Ptol

There's a long history of paper based voting systems being hacked too. Slipping in extra ballot boxes prefilled with votes for your prefered candidate is as old as the hills, along with plenty of modern variations.

WTF is Boeing on? Not just customer databases lying around on the web. 787 jetliner code, too, security bugs and all

Ptol

"If the threee networks on the plane are physically connected in any way, then there is the potential for flaws that allow the isolation between them to be broken. This does raise the question of why you would have any connections between an avionics system, a business network, and an entertainment system. Surely the only cast-iron way of securing the avionics is to have that system completely isolated from the others. What are the use cases that require those networks to interact?"

My reading of this marketing fluff was that it was quite likely to be one physical network with VLAN tagging. and QoS to ensure priority for the mission critical packets at the switch. Hopefully none of the seat area wiring are connected to trunk ports...

The inevitability of K8s: Pivotal CEO describes the pain and benefits of technology transition

Ptol

"Who calls their child "Rob Mee"?"

-- Mr Blind?

Li-ion battery 'price-fixing' case settled with bonus fury over lawyers pocketing eight-figures

Ptol

The US legal system works perfectly for the lawyers... why would it change?

Class actions, and insolvency are two examples of the US legal system where there is a pot of money legally due to a third party, and the lawyers involved are effectively set a target of how much money to spend.

In a class action, the lawyers are taking on some business risk, but they are in control of that risk. They decide how much effort (i.e. cost) they spend on the case, and they are the experts in deciding in the case is winnable, and the risks involved. Why not allow them a 1.5x multiplier to allow them to get it wrong 1 in 3 times.

In insolvency, there is a pot of money for the lawyers to spend, and any they don't spend goes to the people who are actually out of pocket. How often do the lawyers stop spending money before the pot is empty?

What Huawei to go: Hundreds of Chinese tech giant's US workers to get pink slips – report

Ptol

Re: @AC

"the USA fingerprint all air travellers whether they have commited a crime or not"

"I don't know about international flights, but this isn't true for domestic flights. I fly on a reasonably regular basis and have never once been fingerprinted."

It is US immigration law, so it happens on arrival to the USA. However, the USA is unusual in that there is no concept of transit. Most countries you can fly into the country and remain air side -to catch a flight onto a third country without needing to cross the border. However, this is not possible in the USA. If you are on the Air NZ flight from london to Auckland, you need to get off the plane in LA, enter the USA (including finger printing, having a valid US visa (or visa waiver) and then leave the USA to get back onto the same plane to continue your flight.

White House mulls just banning strong end-to-end crypto. Plus: More bad stuff in infosec land

Ptol

Re: Governments don't like to think of themselves as repressive

"And finally, governments in settled democracies would have an awfully difficult time actually stoking up large scale repression. They'd need the police to go out and do something they'd know will be very unpopular"

The Miners strike in the 1980's showed that the UK police are surprisingly happy to be the government enforcers. Good pay rises above inflation, plenty of overtime, no accountability and a selective blind eye and media quite happy to tow the government story and respin stories in deceptive ways all led to a police quite happy to use violence against peaceful protests.

Oracle AI's Eurovision horror show: How bad can it be? Yep. Badder

Ptol

The official campaign for Oracle to enter Eurovision 2020 is needed

Heck, calling Oracle a european country is not much more a stretch than including Australia

Hi! It looks like you're working on a marketing strategy for a product nowhere near release! Would you like help?

Ptol

* Hardware

* Software

* Treeware

* Vapourware

Here's what Autonomy told its salesmen they were allowed to do

Ptol

recognition of a sale at 100% for a software license required it to be for at least 2 years, and paid upfront? Sure sounds like trying to boost the sales figures for now, without ensuring the money is still coming in to cover the promises made for 18 months time.

Tech giants get antsy in Northern Virginia: Give us renewable power, there's a planet to save... and PR to harvest

Ptol

Re: Money Talks

If they really wanted renewable power that reduces CO2 rather than virtue signalling they would be pushing for nuclear power generation.

Nuclear power It has two desirable properties. The volume of fuel needed per megawatt of electricity is pretty low, and the pollution produced is easier to collect and put into deep storage than CO2.

However, it is not a renewable energy source. It takes a source fuel, converts it into a waste fuel, and produces pollution - not really the definition of renewable.

Boeing big cheese repeats pledge of 737 Max software updates following fatal crashes

Ptol

Correct definition of a stall

it is the break up of laminar air flow over the wing that defines the point when a wing stalls, not its air speed.

BT 'UK's most powerful Wi-Fi'? Why, fie, for shame! – ads watchdog

Ptol

Re: Most powerful wifi?

Having been involved with city wide wifi for a short while, there were benefits in boosting the signal power on the mesh channel on both access points to obtain a higher bandwidth on the mesh traffic.

Doing the same for the access channel results in lots of people thinking they should be able to connect to this good signal, but the AP cant hear them reliably enough. Drains battery of devices constantly sending repeat packets that are never acknowledged, or worse, thinking it has a connection, so doesn't use your telco GSM, but is not reliable enough for real use.

Crowdfunded lawyer suing Uber told he can't swerve taxi app giant's £1m legal bill

Ptol

HMRC need to sit it out...

If HMRC joined in as a plaintiff, and the case is lost, then they are on the hook for a share of the winers costs. Why would they want to expose themselves to that, if they thought the plaintiff was doing a reasonable job, (or though that the case was a lost cause, so don't care if the precedent goes against collecting the tax that they don't consider due)

Amazon triples profit to $11.2bn, pays ZERO DOLLARS in corp tax – instead we pay it $129m

Ptol

Re: Make it attractive to pay tax

VAT starts simple, but soon gets complex...

All VAT Companies pay VAT on their purchases from VAT registered companies, and charge VAT on their sales. They then submit a VAT return detailing the total VAT collected, and total VAT paid. If they collected more VAT than they paid, then they must pass the extra to the tax man. If they paid out more than they collected then they get a VAT refund from the tax man.

Then there are a few additional rules to be aware of...

1. If the transaction is across EU member states, and you have the other companies VAT number, then VAT is not paid / charged.

2. Some things are zero rated, some things are VAT exempt. If you sell something thats zero rated, then you get to claim back the VAT you spent on producing and selling that thing. If something is VAT exempt, then you still have to pay the VAT to your supplier, but cannot claim back the VAT.

3. VAT flat rate schemes allow you to charge your customers VAT, but only pay part of that back to the Tax office. The assumption is that you have paid for some supplies, but under the flat rate scheme, you cannot claim back the VAT that you have paid for supplies.

Then there are the penalties if you get things wrong, combined with the enforcement powers when they think you got things wrong...

Dozens of .gov HTTPS certs expire, webpages offline, FBI on ice, IT security slows... Yup, it's day 20 of Trump's govt shutdown

Ptol

Re: Comparison

In the UK, there are some key differences. Our budgets are not about parliament authorising spending by government, they are just about how the government plans to tax us to contribute to the government spending.

The second key difference, in the UK we do not vote for our prime minister. We vote for a local MP, usually based on his party membership and the policies of that party. This means UK government MP’s are fairly closely aligned to our prime ministers policies. US politicians are elected seperately from the choice of president, often on a different time, and based on their own local platform.

Finally, in the UK, opposition parties will strongly oppose government legislation, if they think its a poor approach. However, in the House of Lords ( a bit like the US senate) there is a gentleman’s agreement to only amend, but not block laws that were part of an election promise.

In the UK, there have been occasions when budget announcements did not get the full support of parliament, but it would only prevent changes from occurring. Government carries on as before.

F***=off, Google tells its staff: Any mention of nookie now banned from internal files, URLs

Ptol

Im sure theres only one reason why a tourist would visit that town...

Have you ever been there? Its a nice enough place - but its not exactly a tourist honey pot. In fact, I can only think of one reason for a tourist to visit there, and thats to pose by the welcome to... sign.

Stern Vint Cerf blasts techies for lackluster worldwide IPv6 adoption

Ptol

"You mean that in the early days somebody actually seriously proposed 16-bit networking addresses for a networking protocol that exited a building?"

At the time, there were probably only 50 institutions in the USA that might have a big enough budget to buy a computer, so using the second byte was considered future proofing, 4 whole bytes was exceptionally extravagant!

NHS England fingered over failure to forward patient correspondence

Ptol

NHS Restructuring...

They all seem to be about providing ways for the existing most senior staff to obtain a cash lump sum, and allowing commercial entities to participate in the NHS care.

Why do they want that? well the cash is needed to prevent a riot over the commercial participation. The commercial participation is needed to outsource the budget deficit to the commercial company, then these are the potential outcomes:

1. The service adjusts to less funding by reduced clinical outcomes.

2. The commercial service runs out of cash and goes bankrupt.

3. The service is cancelled as its not cost effective, and a type of care is eliminated from the NHS.

There will be blood: BT to axe 13,000 employees

Ptol

if you think they are bad now...

wait till all the good employable staff have found new jobs, and only the runts of the litter are left... Isnt that what happens with most corporate resizing strategies, who 6 months later realise that the staff they shed were the ones actually doing the work?

You have GNU sense of humor! Glibc abortion 'joke' diff tiff leaves Richard Stallman miffed

Ptol

The "joke" makes a valid political point very much in line with the GNU political views

I would expect that any software developer or technical author who had written that joke into their software document at work, for their customers to read would probably be having a difficult conversation with their boss afterwards...

However, as I understand it, one of the aims of GNU software is to make a political stance about freedom of software, its source and its documentation, and in that respect this line of text is very much on message.

Whats next? break everyone existing code by renaming the function from abort() to terminate()?

Apple, if you want to win in education, look at what sucks about iPads

Ptol

missed the biggest issue of all, robustness

My daughters school in New Zealand has been doing BYOD for a couple of years for children aged 9 to 11. Overwhelmingly, the school recommends netbooks for most. Windows 10 devices with touch screens if your child is wanting a proper laptop, and most relevant to this article - do not buy them an i-Pad.

The teachers were at the point of pleading with us parents about this. All the children want the i-Pad. but they don't last a year. The i-pads are just not robust enough to handle 40 weeks of normal life with a 10 year old. Netbooks were their recommendation, just for their simplicity,robustness and battery life.

Sheer luck helped prevent mid-air drone glider prang in Blighty

Ptol

Re: Chute etc

Paraglider reserve parachutes are different from parachutes worn by skydivers. Principle difference is that they are shaped like an old WW2 parachute with the middle pulled down, making them donnut shaped. A freshly repacked reserve can open in around 150 ft, but are typically quoted as 500ft by the manufacturer.

As the glider was on finals, taking evasive action also has other consequences - like do they still have enough energy left to safely reach the landing field?

EU aviation agency publishes new drone framework. Hobbyists won't like it

Ptol

Re: EASA

All air activity altitude in the UK should be in feet. Our airspace maps show all the altitudes in feet based numbers, even FL ones which are really air pressure based.

As a paraglider pilot, i used feet in the UK, and then usually switched to using meters in the alps, as that was how the local air restrictions were displayed.

Some 'security people are f*cking morons' says Linus Torvalds

Ptol

Re: Userland

If I believed that someone had hacked into my server, would I try to patch and repair and keep the server going? or would I format the box, and rebuild it?

So, consider a server that is part of a highly available cluster farm, that is designed for surviving server failures - A kernel detecting an illegal permission escalation attempt deciding to kernel panic? Well, the system is designed to cope with that. Much safer than having a hacker roaming around your server farm for 3 months before you spot them. How do you unpick that mess? The last 2 weeks backups to the disk backup system wont help, that's for sure.

Kaspersky: Clumsy NSA leak snoop's PC was packed with malware

Ptol

The problem is that whilst it is entirely possible this is the output of an honest and genuine post incident review, that shines light on both the sophistication of state operators in the internet espionage world, and also the complete naivety and carelessness of key individuals that should have known better.

It could also be a great work of fiction.

Guess we might know for sure in 50 years time.

Search results suddenly missing from Google? Well, BLAME CANADA!

Ptol

Company moral hazard....

The ruling is straight forward. Company 'A' that has operations in Canada is told that they must not facilitate activity that is illegal and also detrimental to another Canadian company.

Why should Company 'A' be allowed to continue profiting from this illegal criminal activity anywhere in the world?

Company 'A' should take a long look at itself and make its decision on whether it accepts that the court in Canada is right, it shouldn't facilitate this illegal behaviour, and comply with the court ruling, or if it decides that it will not comply with the rule of law in Canada, to withdraw its operations from this unreasonable legal jurisdiction.

Tesla death smash probe: Neither driver nor autopilot saw the truck

Ptol

Re: Still driving?

"Nope. Hitting a pothole or a ditch would initially be seen primarily by the suspension sensors, with the suspension extending, then compressing, and a longitudinal deceleration being sensed on the wheel(s) hitting the far edge of the pothole"

I have seen several "pothole collisions" in telematic data capture systems. Perhaps when the telematics is built into the car at manufacture, they have sensors on the suspension, but the retrofit systems I have seen rely on inertia sensors to detect sudden accelerations in a collision.

Ptol

Re: Right, $50 of bars will stop a 4000lb car going 74mph.

"It doesn't seem to be a problem anywhere else."

Hump back bridges in the UK are clearly signposted, as well as additional "risk of grounding" signs when needed. Just like there are bridges that are too low for some lorries.

Having a car / lorry / motorbike does not give an automatic right to use EVERY road.

Brit hacker admits he siphoned info from US military satellite network

Ptol

Costs?

Lets do the breakdown:

PR budget to cover embarrassment: $400,000

IT Consultancy to configure our systems securely: $200,000

Company Time Investigating breach and management meetings: $27,900

Engineer time triggering a rotating rebuild of the servers: $100

Thus, the actual damages legally due in court $100

When we said don't link to the article, Google, we meant DON'T LINK TO THE ARTICLE!

Ptol

"I'd be curious to know what'll happen if Google countered that US law COMPELS them to keep the link alive lest they be charged with hiding or destroying evidence, putting US sovereign law against German sovereign law?"

Thats a fact of life. Companies must obey all laws of all countries in which they operate. Their options are to withdraw from a country, to cease trading completely, or to lobby hard for a change in laws in the new country, so they can open an office and employ lots of people.

At the feet of the Great Monad, or, How the functional programming craze plays out

Ptol

Re: Sort in a functional language

"Congratulations on not understanding the point I was making. I guess you think functional languages use a special functional based CPU rather than the normal one? Never mind."

The magic fairy dust is this: If you structure your function so that the recusive call is the last act of your function, then erlang will reuse the same stack memory, allowing you to write a recusive function to iterate over a very long list without running out of stack space.

Other languages dont tend to do this, as the programmer will have written a loop instead.

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