* Posts by Seajay#

419 publicly visible posts • joined 4 Nov 2015


Europe advances crypto-coin regulation – without potential ban on Bitcoin


Re: "Ban Crypto"

It was a useful term in the 70s when there were a mix of fiat currencies and those backed by gold and a debate over which was a better approach.

But it's not a useful term now when there are no major currencies backed by physical commodities. Now all currencies are fiat (crypto currency included). So using the phrase 'fiat currency' adds no extra value over saying 'currency'.

Therefore, using it suggests you are trying to make yourself sound fancy, while simultaneously not really knowing what you are talking about.

People sometimes imagine that crypto is in some way backed by computing power or electricity. But that's not the case. You can create crypto from electricity, but you can't convert it back the other way.


Re: A missed opportunity

"bitcoin is actually helping to drive renewable energy adoption"

This entirely misses the purpose of renewable energy. Renewable energy is not good for the environment, it's bad, it still requires resources to make.

It's only good if it displaces fossil fuel energy, which is much worse.

Using entirely renewable energy to make bitcoin is bad because it still has a negative environmental effect and more importantly because it uses energy which could otherwise have been used to displace fossil fuel usage elsewhere.

The whole argument is a bit like you claiming that firing a pistol in to the air is good for safety because it monetises helmet production in areas where it wouldn't otherwise be economically viable.

Reg reader rages over Virgin Media's email password policy


Re: Something's not right here

I think you must be right. 10 character password of upper case, lower case and digits is (26x2+10)^10 = 8E17 possibilities.

There are 86400 seconds in a day so if he is brute forcing it, the attacker must be testing ~ 8E7 / 86400 = 9 trillion passwords per second.

Vaguely plausible (though expensive) using 100s of AWS instances against a weak hash. But completely infeasible over the internet.

Windows 11 comes bearing THAAS, Trojan Horse as a service


Re: "and in a few short years we were liberated."

The reason people use zoom is that you can send a zoom link to your nan and there's a decent chance that it will actually work.

If teams is built in to windows. It becomes the lowest common denominator option and that probably counts for a lot.

UK's MoD is helping itself to cops' fingerprint database 'unlawfully', rules biometrics chief


The thing is, he didn't say it was done illegally. The Register headline says that but all it says in the actual report is "I continue to be very concerned about the searching by the Ministry of Defence into the

police national fingerprint database without an agreed, clearly defined lawful basis."

I.e no one has laid out clearly what the lawful basis but that doesn't mean there isn't one. Someone just needs to do the paperwork to prove that it's lawful.

Register Lecture: Right to strike when your boss sells AI to the military?


If we had a choice between US military dominance and peace, we would want the peace. In that scenario, supporting the military would be evil.

But that's not the choice. The real choice is between US military dominance and someone else's military dominance. Whatever you think of America, the alternatives would be much worse. In the real world, failing to support Western militaries is the evil option. Workers should be striking to insist that their company sells the best possible technology to the military.

Ministry of Defence's new payroll contract is, surprise, surprise, MIA: Missing In Action


Re: "...incredibly, the MoD may be even more incompetent than DXC".

The MOD are pretty big-league for incompetence too. It's hard to beat somewhere that puts people who have no interest, talent, or experience in procurement throws them in to the job then removes them as soon as they figure out what they're doing.

What most people think it looks like when you change router's admin password, apparently


The random looking keys are random. From the article:

Andy Patel, security expert at F-secure, agreed that newer routers tend to come with a randomised Wi-Fi Protected Access passwords.

Which makes the whole premise of the article (that people are doing something wrong by not changing the password) false. In fact if they did change it they would almost certainly make it worse.

WordPress is now 30 per cent of the web, daylight second


Re: Big user base

Yep, but also best support (in the open source sense of easiest to google an answer). That's the deal you make.

Another day, another meeting, another £191bn down the pan


Meetings seem like a waste of time until you have tried the alternative of explaining the exact same thing to 10 different people, half of whom will later deny all knowledge.

Musk: Come ride my Big F**king Rocket to Mars


Re: Some points about passengers and P2P

I don't think every kilo of water that you drink on your trip to mars is going to be a brand new bottle of Fiji water. It's going to be urine recyc. So maybe 3.5kg of emergency water per person (total not per day) and perhaps a 20kg machine with a 100l holding tank, plus a standby plus some spares and tools. That brings the water down from 63 tonnes to ~1/2 tonne.

Disengage, disengage! Cali DMV reports show how often human drivers override robot cars


Re: Optimistic

True, AVs are unlikely to be able to get that degree of reading the intentions of pedestrians for an extremely long time. But how big a deal is that? If you're moving through at 30mph, an average human probably isn't going to spot that amount of detail either.

For a human driver to have the the time to see evolving dynamics between pedestrians and the spare capacity to be watching them in the first place you've got to be doing what 10mph? Less? At that speed the stopping distance of an AV is just a few feet. So while the human driver might be better in the sense that they can spot it earlier and brake sooner, they're probably not better in the sense of actually preventing any accidents.


Re: Optimistic

This could be one of the greatest relative strengths of AVs. Once they're out there you don't necessarily have to wait for a crash or disengagement to learn. Here's an interesting blog post from Tesla on this subject. It describes how they use fleetwide learning to whitelist particular radar returns in particular areas to avoid false positives.


As well as recognising specific items, presumably it could be used more generally and even in cases where there was no collision and no false positive causing unnecessary emergency braking. I.e. my car sees something which it assumes is a far away truck, as we get closer, it realises that it is a nearby van. It can send to Tesla, "image A was incorrectly classified as a truck", if Tesla get lots of those they can tweak the image classifier. Similarly on the control side it can say, I wanted to change course from A to B so I applied control input X. I actually ended up on course C and therefore applied correction Y to end up on course B. As far as the passenger is concerned nothing bad happened but my AV knows that its internal model of the car's dynamics must be wrong. They can send that to Tesla who can either say "Get your suspension / tracking / tyre pressures checked" or if they see it from lots of cars then they can change the control model.


Re: I can't see full AV either

Firstly, does it assume maps are entirely reliable? I don't think that's true at all, they read road signs and markings (not perfectly at present but they're getting there)


The second problem doesn't seem like a driverless cars problem to me. If a human decides they want to deliberately cause an accident by driving on to my side of the road immediately before we are about to pass in opposite directions there's not a damn thing I can do about it and there's nothing a driverless car can do about it either. I don't see how AVs make that worse

Third problem is related to the first. That's only a problem if you assume that AVs navigate solely by GPS and maps, but that's not true, they navigate by GPS, maps, cameras and (maybe) lidar.

The fourth problem is a fairly minor UI issue, how do I indicate where I want the car to go if there is no map of the area. Well either the car takes me to the nearest mapped road then puts me in to a semi-manual mode for the last 10m where I direct the car with a joystick and it continues to handle all the collision avoidance and actual control of the car, or I indicate on a satellite map where I want it to go, or something similar. Even if the answer is that no, you can't park anywhere that's not on the map, that's still not fatal for AVs, there just needs to be some way for you to get your own drive added to the map and you'll have to accept that you're otherwise going to have to park in car parks or on the road side.

I can see some arguments for the fact that getting the last 20% of the way to AVs is going to need much much more work than the first 80% but I can't see anything which is a complete show stopper.

Elon Musk offered no salary, $55bn bonus to run Tesla for a decade


Re: I get this sinking feeling....

Surely that's precisely the point of this plan. Unlike every other CEO he can't make money off some short term movement in the share price or by standing still and collecting a salary.

For Musk to agree to this plan he has to believe that the company is going to be fantastically successful over a long period because if it's not he doesn't get paid. If he thought it were all smoke and mirrors then he'd go for a high salary and make sure that there was a great severance package written in to the contract.

This is a clear and expensive (therefore trustworthy) signal that he believes it's going to change the world.

Whether it actually does change the world is another question, but he clearly believes it.

Hawaiian fake nukes alert caused by fat-fingered fumble of garbage GUI


Alphabetical Alliteration

The alphabetical alliteration was pleasing to me but I think you could have gone further.

Fat-fingered Fumble of

Garbage GUI

Horrifies Hawaii

Indicating Incoming

WikiLeave? Assange tipped for Ecuadorian eviction


Re: Time for a chat ...

Why would the UK judiciary agree to that? Even if they were able to deviate from the law for this one person, why would they want to?

Either Ecuador host him for ever or he eventually walks out, pays for his crime of jumping bail, then gets extradited to whoever wants him. Either of those options are fine for the UK. Why would we feel the need to make some sort of shady deal?

One of those options is a PITA for Ecuador so I can see why they want to make a deal, but they aren't holding any cards.


But he hasn't been confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy. He has been there voluntarily. You can take in to account time served in pre-trial custody but you can't (and wouldn't want to) take in to account time on the run (which is what he currently is). If you did that, it would encourage people to jump bail which is precisely the opposite of the point of the laws around bail.

Maintaining respect for the law around bail is far more important than the fate of this one guy.

Damian Green: Not only my workstation – mystery pr0n all over Parliamentary PCs


Re: All these accusations about him looking at pron...

whatever passes as an HR department for MPs

That’s exactly the problem. Ordinarily this would be "No crime committed. HR investigate and sack if necessary" but there is no HR equivalent, MPs are self policing. With the assumption that they will get voted out if necessary. So for MPs (and only MPs) trial by tabloid is the constitutionally correct course of action.

UK government bans all Russian anti-virus software from Secret-rated systems


First thought. Huh, so previously we were or might have been using Kaspersky on Secret systems?

Second thought. Secret networks are set up in such a way that rogue software could phone home from them?

Third thought. https://xkcd.com/463/

Is Oomi the all-in-one smart home system we've been waiting for?



I've rarely seen a better example of Betteridge's law of headlines

Nathan Barley blamed for global GDP slump


Re: I'm sceptical

but according to the data we're behind the French, with their 9.7% unemployment, over 1 in 54 of under 25s unemployed, and their shorter average working hours than the UK

We're behind the French because of those things, not despite them. Productivity is output per employee hour. Make a bunch of people unemployed and it will generally be the less productive ones who are sacked first. Mostly employ over 25s who are already trained and experienced and your productivity improves. Go home early and you might get less work done in total but the amount of work you've done per hour will probably be higher.

So I don't see any reason not to trust the productivity data. Though there is a very good reason not to see it as the only thing you need to worry about.

Hey girl, what's that behind your Windows task bar? Looks like a hidden crypto-miner...


Re: Next step

If they do that (and make it clear that's what they're doing) then it's absolutely fine.

If they're providing me with something of so much value that I want to leave it open all the time, it's perfectly reasonable that I should provide them with a bit of mining time. The current situation is a problem because a domain squatter whose site I don't actually want to see at all might be able to trick me in to mining for him.


Re: Business model?

The better model I think (and it's one which is heavily promoted by CoinHive) is mining as a catcha replacement. Go to sign up for a free site and instead of saying "click to prove you are not a robot" it says "click here to mine a tiny amount for us, if you're a robot that's fine, we're still getting paid."

Boffins craft perfect 'head generator' to beat facial recognition


Maybe just don't upload the picture if you're the person in it and you're worried about being identified?

The problem with social media is that other people can upload pictures of you and there's not a lot you can do about that. This technology does nothing to address that.

Level 5 driverless cars by 2021 can be done, say Brit industry folk


Re: Determinism

A factor of 2 by definition means half as many accidents if they replace all cars so that's got to be good from a utilitarian point of view. However, there's quite a lot of variation between human drivers so if driverless cars are only twice as good as the average, that means that some people are being put in more danger than they were in before. That's going to be a tough sell.

As a strange extra statistical wrinkle, consider that middle-aged people are the safest and also the most likely to buy their car brand new, unlike the dangerous teenagers. So it could well be the case that if new driverless cars are twice as safe as average, they could increase accidents when they are first introduced as only people who are three times a safe as average buy them.


Re: Determinism

Who are these deterministic human drivers?

All we need to do is outperform humans by a factor of 10 or so, we don't need provably infallible AI drivers.

'Treat infosec fails like plane crashes' – but hopefully with less death and twisted metal


Re: Economics is the problem

You're right. But it's not the case that insecure systems are causing loads of death but it isn't visible. It's just not causing much death. Therefore the right response is don't worry about it. Or more precisely, worry about it but don't spend as much money as you do keeping aircraft safe.


Re: Economics is the problem

Rather than say

"We need to see people dying"

how about

"We don't see anyone dying. Therefore while it may offend your perfectionism to have insecure computers, that's just tough. The rest of the world wants computers which are very much cheaper than planes, despite being just as complex."


Re: Space X...

I'm not sure that's a great analogy.

If typical software contained bugs which were so serious that they caused the server hardware to be destroyed after each request (roughly the non-reusable rocket equivalent) then yes, there would be huge economic gains to be had from working on reliability, but that's not the situation.

That doesn't mean that we shouldn't look to improve reliability, just that unfortunately we have to accept that there is a trade off, it won't pay for itself.

Military test centre for frikkin' laser cannon opens in Hampshire



For about 100 years naval gunfire has been able to fire further than the visible horizon. Replacing the main armament with something which can't possibly fire that far because it has to be line of sight and even in the best of conditions would be skimming the surface of the sea and therefore getting lots of deflection from the moisture gradient, spray, etc, makes no sense. Also, delivering enough energy at long range to do more than temporarily blind another ship is probably impossible. So that's probably not the use.

Anti-air / anti-missile probably makes a lot more sense. They are closer or higher so the range and distortion is less of an issue. The amount of energy you need to deliver to a missile or aircraft to destroy it is much much less. They can't be made reflective or they lose their stealth. Extremely rapid tracking and extremely low time-of-flight is important, which plays to the strength of lasers. All in all most likely this is a CIWS replacement / augmentation. It could also do a great job of blinding enemy pilots at extremely long ranges. That's illegal but so long as you can make the argument that you were trying to burn him rather than blind him, it's all fine, history is written by the winners.

Worrying about swarms of RIBs with explosives in is the terribly modern thing for the Navy at the moment, I suppose a laser would pop them in a highly satisfactory fashion too.


That occurred to me too. Maybe it's fine because the enemy deciding to cover his crucial assets in the most high visibility materials possible would be a win for us even if we never fire the laser.

10 years of the Kindle and the curious incident of a dog in the day-time


Re: Cost

I'm not sure it's irrelevant, but yes it's not the whole story.

I suspect that part of the higher cost of ebooks now is that they are under tighter control. You can't resell second hand ones, you can't take them out of the library both of those things limit the price of paper books but not ebooks. Plus it's just plain old market forces; ebooks are more convenient, people will pay higher prices for them, if people will pay more, copyright owners will charge more.


Re: Cost

That's because you pay VAT on ebooks but not on printed ones.

Universal basic income is a great idea, which is also why it won't happen


Re: Saudi Arabia

This is the same as raising the minimum wage artificially until robot burger flippers and ordering kiosks become very cheap in comparison to low skill labor.

This is the exact opposite of that surely? You just said a few lines higher up that this will let companies pay low-skilled employees less. If this policy means that their total income in unchanged but they are more likely to be employed because less of that money has to come from their employer, that's.. well it's not great because they're still flipping burgers but it's fine, it's better than the alternative.



Where are you getting those numbers?

I see £46Bn spent on working age welfare [1]

41 million working age population [2]

So we get about £1000 /year each

[1] https://visual.ons.gov.uk/welfare-spending/

[2] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/articles/overviewoftheukpopulation/july2017


Re: "a £50/£100/£150 UBI would cost £28bn annually"

It's not £50 or £100 or £150

It's £50 for children, £150 pensioners, £100 everyone else.


Great idea but..

That's usually people's response. I disagree. The only time it's a great idea is if your problem is "The world is way too rich. How can we possibly share out this bounty?" and that's not our problem. If all we had to do was feed ourselves we'd be in that position, producing as much food as anyone could want cheaply is pretty much solved. But we also have to provide healthcare. Trying to prevent mortals from dying can always absorb as much money as you can throw at it without ever being solved.

If we're not too rich then the fundamental problem with UBI is that it spends a mindblowing amount of money while actually making the most needy worse off. If you try to solve the 'making the needy worse off' problem by running a parallel means-tested system then you still have most of the problems of UBI but now you get none of the simplification benefits.

It's a very appealing idea, I get that. But it just doesn't work, even in theory and that's before you start to get in to fraud, etc.


Re: Way back

It was adopted. That's universal credit.

'Do the DevOps?' No thanks! Not until a 'blameless post-mortem' really is one


So the lesson for minions is

Oppose change in your business at all costs.

Either it won't work and you'll get the blame or it will work and you've got a 30-70% chance of being made redundant.

Got it. Thanks.

Elon Musk says Harry Potter and Bob the Builder will get SpaceX flying to Mars


Re: Colonist motivation

Well, economics is really about the movement of money (resources, economists might like to say, I suppose, but really it's just money they're talking about).

It absolutely isn't about the movement of money and it very very much is about the movement of resources, enormously expensive resources which need to be moved at a vast cost of even more resources. It's no good moving a derivatives contract for an atmospheric regulator to Mars, you need the actual machine there, or you can't breathe. Someone on earth needs to have made that machine and someone needs to have provided them with the raw materials to do so. Who is that person paying the manufacturer? paying for the rocket fuel? paying for the raw materials? and why are they paying out so much when they're getting nothing from Mars?

Audio spy Alexa now has a little pal called Dox


Re: Paranoia strikes deep in the heartland

Mark 85 / Citizens untied

If you aren't interested in tech in your own time and you want to be highly productive, what are you doing on El Reg?

The day I almost pinned my tushie as a Google Maps landmark


Re: Grease is the word

We'll have none of your BBCode here, this is a respectable site.

It's < i> italics < /i> like this

Does anyone know why &lt; doesn't work? It was painful trying to write that without the spaces, so I gave up.

Logitech: We're gonna brick your Harmony Link gizmos next year


Cloud lesson

I don't think the lesson here is never buy anything which relies on a service run by someone else to be useful, because actually in this instance it's absolutely fine. If you have an in warranty link, it gets upgraded to a harmony hub for free. Great. If it's out of warranty you've been given notice and you get a discount. Not great but fine.

Contrast that with pebble, where your watch just stops working.

So the lesson is, if you're going to rely on someone else's service continuing to run, make sure they're a big company with a reputation to protect.

Google, Twitter gleefully spew Texas shooter fake news into netizens' eyes


Re: Optional

The laugh with the covfefe tweet was not him sending it. You're right, that's an easy mistake.

The laugh was the White House press office defending it as not a typo but a well considered presidential tweet.

This could be our favorite gadget of 2017: A portable projector


Re: Interesting

so long as it dnla's then the netflix/youtube/etc can stay on my phone.

Well there's the real killer. Does netflix on your phone allow you to play on a remote renderer? I don't know about netflix specifically but I know for sure that NowTV doesn't (though it does allow chromecast), even free to air stuff like Channel 4's catch-up service doesn't allow that. How is that going to work when you're glamping so presumably using mobile data? In that case your phone and the projector can't possibly be on the same network.

Possibly you can have a wired connection your phone with an MHL or a Lightning Digital AV Adapter (£50!) but now you're carrying a bunch of cables as well so you're losing a bit of the magic.

Ideally it shouldn't matter but in reality, that integration stuff is going to be make or break for this sort of device.

For fanbois only? Face ID is turning punters off picking up an iPhone X


Re: £1,149.00

I think that's what's stopping everyone, they just don't want to look cheap so they blame something else.

Bored 'drivers' pushed Google Waymo into ditching autopilot tech


Re: Attention Test Required

It's a good idea but the thing is you can get away with that if you're writing code for a company to be used by employees. They know they're there to work so if you add (what seems like) a condescending we-don't-believe-you-can-pay-attention-unless-watched test then they put up with it because they want to get paid. If you're selling a product to people it's a very different relationship. If you lock them out of a feature of their car, which they have paid for because they failed your test, they are going to go nuts.

Like I say, it's a good idea but it's just not going to fly. If that means that we go straight to level 4 and it takes a few extra years, then that's what has to happen.


Re: Cruise control

Assuming you don't have some sort of wacky CVT and that you're always in top gear on the motorway, setting a speed is exactly equivalent to setting an rpm.

Do you mean that you want to set a particular throttle position? If so, just use a brick ;-)

Tesla share crash amid Republican bid to kill off electric car tax break


Re: Cui bono

Well yes, possibly but

Low emissions from Car + High emissions from flights

is still better than

High emissions from Car + High emissions from flights