* Posts by gobaskof

201 publicly visible posts • joined 4 Dec 2015


What DARPA wants, DARPA gets: A non-hacky way to fix bugs in legacy binaries


Re: How did they allow themselves to get into this position anyway?

You would think, but US Government procurement is a stick business of poorly written tenders and lower cost bids that meet the letter but not the spirit of the tender.

I worked in a half a billion dollar laboratory when I was a foreign contractor in a US Government lab. We needed incredible temperature control across the laboratory. No long term maintenance was considered, and the specially designed control boards were unavailable for repairs. So when one failed it was near impossible to get replacements.

Microsoft to offer unlimited time off for US staff


I worked for the US Government*, all the time we would get emails sent around saying things like.

"Joe has been working here for 25 years, he has cancer and has now used up all his accrued sick leave. We will be force to fire Joe, he will loose his health insurance, bankrupt his family, and die a preventable death. This can be stopped if you donate your sick leave to Joe"

Everyone thought it was totally normal. If you suggest maybe they as the government could just decide not to kill Joe and bankrupt his family, then you were a commie. Individually Americans are very generous, as far as I know every "Joe" was kept alive by people donating sick leave.

So glad I got out of that country.

*Technically I was an independent contractor hired by the US government because I was not American

Scientists tricked into believing fake abstracts written by ChatGPT were real


Re: Peer reviewers eh? What are they like?

Don't blame the quality of writing on the schools. Academic publishing has pushed towards new boundaries of fast-turnaround, formulaic, vacuous, crap. During my PhD about a decade ago I remember trying to write a simple MATLAB script to create crappy-but-believable abstracts. I never quite got it to work in the couple of wasted afternoons trying. Personally, I am surprised that the AI only managed to fool people 32% of the time.

Peer review is not what so much of the public think it is: Academics reproducing the work. You are given 2-4 weeks to read and comment on a long paper draft, as extra, unpaid, uncredited work on top of a busy schedule. You skim read it looking for obvious errors and omissions. After that you make a snap judgment about how interesting it is. The more surprising the result, the more interesting it is. The more interesting, the better the paper will tend to do. Of course the more surprising results are more likely to turn out to be wrong, so never trust anything published in a Nature Journal. Still, the highlight of my career.... getting something published in a Nature journal.

The only way out of the endless cycle is for everyone to stand up to the journals, funders, and promotion boards that push bibliometrics based on publication statistics. Doing it alone is the death of your career. Getting academics to do it in unison is like herding cats into a bath.

Alphabet reshuffles to meet ChatGPT threat


Re: Google search accurate?

Hunting for a shop/service in a local area online has become awful. It is even worse if you live in Bath. You just get lots of adverts about bathroom products.

Tech analyst Forrester finds enterprise software is recession-proof


Crappy Legend

Why do green computers and peripherals cost less than blue? Yet green applications cost more then blue ones? What do these things mean?

Microsoft asks staff to think twice before submitting expenses


Re: "think twice before submitting expenses"

Not paying legitimate expenses incurred should be a crime (maybe it is!?).

I travelled to Tanzania once for work, total trip was close to 4 weeks, people tend to work long days and 6 days a week, so I did too. Add to that travel time, etc. I didn't get extra wages (though that would be nice, fine, whatever). But they tried to deny a whole host of expenses including suncream and sunhat (it is right on the equator! Often things happened outside). They also refused to pay for my anti-malarials, despite the project I was going out one was malaria research in a malaria endemic area. I won some of these fights, but I never recovered all the costs. Bastards.

Microsoft brings tabs to File Explorer


Re: Another productivity disabler

You don't need to disable them, just don't use them if you don't want to. I tend to use the spit screen (F3) option in KDE dolphin if I know I am doing a lot of dragging files around. If you have tabs, you can drag the file up to the tab bar, wait about one second for the tab to change and drag it back down, slightly slower but useful if you like tabs.

I love the Linux desktop, but that doesn't mean I don't see its problems all too well


Re: Computing smarts in the cloud

I hate this only cloud mentality. Do these people never travel? Never end up in the countryside? Never have internet issues? Do we all down tools if the internet goes out? I have had no internet for 3-4 days whilst working in Africa. Hell, I have had close to no internet at all in my parents house in Norfolk for years.

How much of this throttled bandwidth in areas of poor internet is because everyone is streaming and re-streaming their favourite shows and albums rather than downloading once? Soon we can do this with everything!? Progress??

Broadcom to buy VMware 'on Thursday for $60 billion'


Re: Another week another acquisition

Regulators can block it within the countries. The problems it it is largely US tech firms and the US regulators are very happy to let oligopolies form. Other countries can regulate monopolistic behaviours inside their own market, but I doubt they can stop mergers/acquisitions in another country.


Another week another acquisition

Are there any statistics on the percentage of the tech industry that different corporations have owned over time. It seems that the never ending pace of acquisitions and mergers, we are just cementing an oligopoly of huge tech companies that eat all the little ones. I thought regulators were meant to stop this kind of thing?

AI beats top players at Bridge in two-day tournament


Re: Some parts like the game's bidding stage were left out

The bidding is the most complex part! Also if they left the bidding out then the card play will change as you decide a lot of your play based on how the bidding went.

It is like saying a robot beat professionals at cricket, parts of the game such as fielding, and batting were left out. That's just not cricket.

Also the statement that bidding " involves trying to trick your components by using various strategies concocted with your teammates." is wrong. Bidding is a system where you communicate complex ideas with very limited options on how to communicate. If your opponents ask your partner what they understand by your bid you have to answer honestly. You can psyche and bid something out of system to confuse everyone, but it is cheating if you and your partner secretly concocted it.

Microsoft proposes type syntax for JavaScript


Re: Copied from Python

Then for these functions set your type hits to the base class that covers all types you expect. Could go as broad as "object" there is also "Any".

Microsoft 365, Office 365 price hikes delayed


Re: Sparato must be very thankful for libre office

"many millions a decade later" can be factored into the cost benefit analysis of exploiting a monopoly. If you protect your monopoly and use it to expand into different domains you can make many many billion a year. Being fined many millions a decade later is a small price to pay. Unless regulators grow some teeth these monopolistic shenanigans will continue.

Tesla to disable 'self-driving' feature that allowed vehicles to roll past stop signs at junctions


Re: Not a "bug"

"software included a feature that emulates driver behaviour found to be common in some places in the US"

I wonder when they will next implement getting super angry and tailgating whist honking like mad when cut off?

OpenShell has been working on a classic replacement for Windows 11's Start menu


Exactly! Your taskbar, you choose the position and format. This was my big beef with the Unity desktop in the days of yore. I like my taskbar at the bottom, and I hate it collapsed into icons. Unity had no customisation options, it was a left-side icon bar. I have a wide monitor, I want every window listed with some words. We all work differently, let us customise. Luckily you could always purge Unity from the system and use a desktop you want.

Farm machinery giant John Deere plows into two right-to-repair lawsuits


Farmers are the most practical and the most ingenious at getting thing to work when they need them to work. If you spend months growing a crop and have a few days of window to harvest it you get what you need to done. Knee-capping farmers with DRM is criminal. It affects the farmers who have the newest gear, but it has skyrocketed the resale price of older non DRMed machines, this affects small farmers, and really limits the export of even older gear to low income countries where it is sorely needed.

This case should have been filed years ago.

Three US states plus Washington DC sue Google for using UI design 'dark patterns' to harvest your location


I told Google maps it couldn't store everywhere I had ever been. In response it also it turned off being able to safe favourite locations (either globally or as preferred locally) so I could set favourites to drive to. Deep throat yourselves Google. Happily I am 10 months into my current phone and still have managed to never sign into Google.

'Please download in Microsoft Excel': Meet the tech set to monitor IT performance across central UK government


Re: Ideal for data

You want the data from some people to be put in a spreadsheet or database. Use a form. Your participants fill in data, you get one output in a format of your choice. Most organisations large organisations have a self-hosed form application or deal with a big provider. If not the European Commission has a really well secured one with 2FA enforced that they let anyone use.

Open source isn't the security problem – misusing it is


Re: "Don't you hate it when people answer rhetorical questions?"

Oh God, yes! So annoying.

Less than PEACH-y: UK's plant export IT system only works with Internet Explorer


Re: Sounds entirely predictable.

Exactly! Besides, no new system could possibly be approved until it can forcibly play the National Anthem to all users once per day.

It's that time of the year again when GitHub does its show'n'tell of features – some new and others kinda new


"which led to a reduction in time required to spin up a dev environment, from 45 minutes down to 10 minutes. The implication is that you too should try Codespaces."

This seems like a very long time? Perhaps I am just demonstrating my ignorance and admitting that I only do play scripting in childish dev environments. What takes that long? Are we talking each time you spin up and IDE to work on a specific project it takes 45 mins? Or are we talking about coming to a new project for the first time and chasing down all of the dependencies, etc, etc? Because that really changes how many times you save 35 mins.

Court of Appeal says AI software cannot be listed as patent inventor


The same DOOFUS (sorry DABUS) software...

produced a patent in South Africa:


A container (10) for use, for example, for beverages, has a wall (12) with and external surface (14) and an internal wall (16) of substantially uniform thickness. The wall (12) has a fractal profile which provides a series of fractal elements (18-28) on the interior and exterior surfaces (14-16), forming pits (40) and bulges (42) in the profile of the wall and in which a pit (40) as seen from one of the exterior or interior surfaces (12, 14) forms a bulge (42) on the other of the exterior or interior surfaces (12, 14). The profile enables multiple containers to be coupled together by inter-engagement of pits and bulges on corresponding ones of the containers. The profile also improves grip, as well as heat transfer into and out of the container. Devices for attracting enhanced attention include: an input signal of a lacunar pulse train having characteristics of a pulse frequency of approximately four Hertz and a pulse-train fractal dimension of approximately one-half; and at least one controllable light source configured to be pulsatingly operated by the input signal; wherein a neural flame emitted from at least one controllable light source as a result of the lacunar pulse train is adapted to serve as a uniquely-identifiable signal beacon over potentially-competing attention sources by selectively triggering human or artificial anomaly-detection filters, thereby attracting enhanced attention.

It starts as a semi-coherent explanation of a mad product. Who wants a fractal beverage cup, and how on earth would it be made. And the text then just evolves into pure madness.

The question I would ask is not "Can AI be an inventor?", but "Why is the bar for invention set so incredibly low?"

Software piracy pushes companies to be more competitive, study claims


Bit Torrent isn't the only thing that happened in 2001. This paper smells a bit like someone analysed the data for an up tick in spending, found a year, and assigned something to fit their preconceived biases. It is not even "correlation" as one axis is boolean "does bit torrent exist".

Also measuring innovation based on IP filing is fundamentally flawed.

Trust Facebook to find a way to make video conferencing more miserable and tedious


Re: Sucker's bork

Do you find the slight lag of video calls and the inability to effectively pick up on physical social cues makes online meetings unproductive and exhausting. We can solve this by replacing the video of someone's actual face with an avatar controlled by facebook. You can still work equally productively because we have projected a keyboard into your vision that is somewhat close to where your keyboard is. Good luck if you locate the home row with a glance rather than those little raised nubs.

Zoom is fatiguing, Teams is clunky, JitSi is sometimes unstable, Google meet is a joke and doomed in 2-4 years. But whatever, I'll join a call if I have to. But this hellscape? Not a chance, not even if someone gave me a free VR jobby.

AI to be bigger than IaaS and PaaS combined by 2025


Someone else has extrapolating as a hobby?


Audacity users stick the knife – and fork – in to strip audio editor of unwanted features


Re: Some Auptions

"Tuning Fork" - This, in my mind, is perfect! Have a pint!

Algorithm used to predict sepsis in hundreds of US hospitals isn’t as good as maker claims — study


But now if they are selling it to insurers so they might need a blockchain to make it sound fancy.

Garbage in, garbage stays in forever

Too easy. Microsoft introduces moderation for Winget package repo after spike in bad submissions


Re: Typical Microsoft

Not to mention that creating something to point at installers had a downfall when they "required user input". I have never seen a windows installer that did not ask me to click next 45 times. Every time I see a Windows user installing things on their new machine I am just bamboozled with their patience as they click next 85 billion times. I have a text file that I pipe into apt and then I walk off.

Tesla Autopilot is a lot dumber than CEO Musk claims, says Cali DMV after speaking to the software's boss


Re: Hedging your bets on narrow roads

I spent 4 years in America. And growing up with single track roads, trying to navigate 7 lane each way highways, and super wide roads with tonnes of stop signs and traffic lights you can turn through on red unless there is a sign saying you can't...... Man, it stressed me out no end. As always, better the devil you know. But that worries me is that those who program and test this stuff will do the testing on US roads and assume it is applicable in places it is not. And we can be sure it won't be truly intelligent enough to adapt to a new and unknown situation.


Re: Fully Automatic my arse!

I think it currently can only drive if there are lane markings. Lane markings!? Plenty of lanes here in Somerset, can't think of many that have any markings, unless you count the horse poo in the middle.

What worries me most is that they will be designed to drive the speed limit. Which means that they will probably try to drive 60 down a single track lane, not realising that national speed limit means "drive at an appropriate speed, we have not assessed every bend and blind spot. Saying that, city dwellers with a SatNav do the same.

GitLab tries to address crypto-mining abuse by requiring card details for free stuff


I understand the need to limit abuse, but this is a great shame. We run a collaborative project with numerous African partners. It is good if pipelines run on a fork so we cannot enable group runners. It is common in some partner countries for members not to have a credit or debit cards, with many banking through their phone.

This week in AI: Man arrested after cops say he rode in backseat of Autopilot Tesla


Re: There is an

PS dont blame the tesla if the owner is a moron

But also do. We can't blame them for this specific moron, but we can blame them for the class of morons they have created. In all honesty who thinks that a car that self drives except in an emergency is a good idea? That a human with nothing to do will keep as alert as one who is actually driving, and will be just as ready to avert danger. Yes, climbing into the back seat is moronic, but how many others, stopped paying attention entirely or even dozed off while they were doing nothing but still legally in charge of the car? They are testing dangerous technology under the guise, and blaming distracted "drivers" when it goes wrong.

Japan to start stamping out rubber stamps and tearing up faxes as new digital agency given Sept. 1 start date


I got a cheque in US dollars a year or so ago. That was really hard to pay in, my Building Society wouldn't touch it. This is a shame as the US still loves cheques.

When software depends on a project thanklessly maintained by a random guy in Nebraska, is open source sustainable?


"it's unlikely that the commercial entity will vanish overnight"

That seems like bollocks, but more importantly commercial entities abandon software all the time. If you build your business on a software/framework that a company discontinues you are out of luck. With OSS, you are in practice out of luck too, but you have the options of trying to maintain the software yourself, or trying to co-fund a developer to take on the project.

I am not denying there is a problem with OSS funding. But saying that relying on proprietary software is more stable appears to be a statement built upon bias rather than evidence. It depends on the context. We have seen RT linux outlive commercial soft realtime OSes like PharLap. But, that does not mean you should build your business about a GitHub project with a commit a month for the last 2 years (you could always hire the dev to keep the project alive). Context is everything.

University duo thought it would be cool to sneak bad code into Linux as an experiment. Of course, it absolutely backfired


Re: @gobaskof - Using your arguments

Fantastic strawman there. How big did you feel when you kicked it down? Almost big enough to take off your mask?


If the researchers informed the maintainers after the email and before it even became a commit then what was learned? If they wanted to see if such a patch would be accepted then you would think they would let the kernel review process happen, let it get past some level of scrutiny and then stop it at a late stage.

Yes, this would be far more annoying, but at least it would actually probe if the project would catch the malicious code. Perhaps I misunderstood the article?

Microsoft realises constant meetings stress people out, adds Office 365 settings to cut them short or start them late


What would be better is if the standard meeting lengths were 25 or 55 minutes - so at least giving you five minutes between meetings.

Hi A Non e-mouse,

Just saw you have a 5 min gap in your calendar. I scheduled a quick call as I have an update. Shouldn't take long.

Best wishes

Someone you hate, but who is too senior for you to tell them where to shove it


Single organisation calendar quirks cause havock when you collaborate

My work has a timetable where all meeting start at 15 past the hour. Not to give us a 15 minuite break, just the entire work schedule is shifted by 15 mins because of a historic. long-changed, bus schedule. Now try having a time table where everything starts 15 mins late, but then you need to work with people on a normal schedule it just gets a bit weird. Sometimes you get a nice break between an external 1h meeting and and internal meeting. Often you end up either having meeting clash or having a 45 min meeting butting up into another meeting.

Human nature is that meetings end when the agenda is done, or when too many people have their next meeting. If every "well-being champion" (or whatever they are called this month) starts enabling early late starts and early ends in their companies calendar's you will start to get the carnage we have here. Combine with the fact that some programs will follow the defaults others wont.

If you want to promote work-life-balance, then do something meaningful to assess the work life balance of your staff and intervene if necessary. All this setting does is create a new set of scheduling headaches. Eventually someone may try to then stick my head in an EEG cap so they can tell me that scheduling headaches are causing me stress. That person may get shanked.

Debian devs decide best response to Richard Stallman controversy is … nothing


Interesting you say it is unusual for Condorcet to have an outright winner. I am in a community that is going through a lot of discussion about voting as it formalises. Everything I have read claims that there normally is a Condorcet winner, and that tie breaking is complex but rarely needed. I have no idea how true that is. I suppose perhaps what I am reading is written by people who expect 200k people are voting not 200?


They very nearly went for Option 2 "Call for Stallman's resignation from all FSF bodies". Option 2 only lost in its head to head comparison with Option 7, and only by 8 votes. Condorcet voting is very fair, but an arse to unravel the data into a sensible, understandable, and transparent form.

What next for Visual Studio? Microsoft's monster IDE can't please everyone and 64-bit will not solve legacy problems


Re: git integration / Azure devops push

Because GitHub Desktop (last time I checked which was over 18 months ago) was so damn basic that you can't set a second remote. Therefore you can't keep a fork up to date with upstream. So unless you just work on projects you maintain, and never contribute to others, it is just dead weight.

Personally I also never use Git features in my IDE, unless you count the fact that my terminal is in my IDE, and from that I run Git.

Oracle cuts support for South African energy biz Eskom in long-running licensing dispute


How do we know it is Oracle's fault? Seriously? If you run in with layers demanding $500m. Oh wait no more like $41m, wait no $28m. You can see why a company does not trust your figures. Maybe it is $11.65m maybe it is $28m. The fundemental problem is that a license terms can be so ambiguous that the range of possible values can span $500m to less than $12m. And that problem is not just Oracle's fault, it is Oracle's business model.

NHS COVID-19 app update blocked by Apple, Google over location privacy fears


Re: “ how it managed to develop an entire update without realizing it would be blocked”

You mention senior civil servants, but Test and Trace displaces the top civil servants to put Dido Queen of Carnage in charge and she surrounded herself with consultants. Capitalism and greed...


Re: “ how it managed to develop an entire update without realizing it would be blocked”

It is really sad that at a time when even Google and Apple can pull together on an API, every country has invested in building their own apps, rather than make one that works across boarders. Not that I blame Scotland for steering well clear of this (very much not the NHS) NHS app.

Key Perl Core developer quits, says he was bullied for daring to suggest programming language contained 'cruft'


A big issue I have always found in Open Source is people spend long hours often unpaid on a project because they care. This emotional investment leads to emotional language and strong feelings. I have upset people in the past by writing long posts criticising things in detail in a project I maintain. I was not attempting to bully, I was trying to robustly explain my opinion in enough detail to show I had given the topic due attention before savaging someone else's work. Turned out major changes combine with what was described as "a Manifesto of what I did wrong" was counter productive.

Robust debate is useful to find the best ideas, but facilitated it can feel toxic. I am not sure I want to advocate for specific facilitators. But attending a professionally facilitated event to draft an open standard was eye opening. Heated discussions were very effectively resolved by understanding when people not prepared to agree, but were happy to disagree yet commit to continuing anyway.

Over a decade on, and millions in legal fees, Supreme Court rules for Google over Oracle in Java API legal war


Re: Minions Finally Lose

So is it over over? Or just over until it is not over? I am never sure with big tech battles in the US?

IBM, Red Hat face copyright, antitrust lawsuit from SCO Group successor Xinuos


Re: Ah shit ...

"Oh no, not again." indeed. Who is sitting around wondering what to do with their life and thinks: "You know what why don't I invest millions in buying the IP off SCO and continuing a soul destroying court battle for another decade or two". Even if they win, could it ever be worth it?

Free Software Foundation urged to free itself of Richard Stallman by hundreds of developers and techies


To stop using the GPL is a knee-jerk and bizzare reaction.

"The Processing Foundation, which oversees the development of popular software sketchbook libraries, said it was moving away from using the GPL"

What? Moving away from a commonly used license is a silly reaction to this. If you create a new copyleft license you add to the problem of license proliferation. If you move to permissive licenses then you are forgoing the freedoms that copyleft brings. Go permissive because that is best for your goals, not because you disagree with the man or the FSF. If you want to distance yourself from FSF/RMS then next to your GPL you could say something like "We use the GPL as one of the most common and freedom respecting licenses, our use of the GPL implies no support for the FSF or Richard Stallman". Or you could not say anything because who sees a license and assumes that signals support of the author rather than a will to use the legal contract?

City of London Police warn against using ‘open science’ site Sci-Hub


Re: "data and research ... is ... more strategically valuable ... than copyright-busting"

This list of things the university pays for misses "Gold Open Access" where some countries have decided we want all our papers to be open (good thing) so we use the same closed journals and page £2k-5k per paper to make it open. Still we do all the writing, most of the sodding copy editing, all the reviewing, most of the editing. And then we still have to pay when we want to see articles from other countries.

Out library is cash strapped. We get emails regularly from our department "Open Access Champion"** telling us the budgets are spent please stop publishing in these sets of journals. I could skirt these journals on moral grounds but I did that earlier in my career and it really screwed me. But, when we don't have access to a paper, I am not going to do less/worse literature review. I am not going to give the bastards more money. I am going to use Sci-Hub. Via a VPN/proxy if the uni blocks it. Governments need to grow a spine, pull together and crowd out this cartel of arsehole publishers. Not protect them with copyright bullshit.

The point about "strategically valuable" "never-for-public-access data and research"? I would rather chew my left bollock off than sign an NDA. I'm an academic. You want my data,even the pre published stuff? Send me an email. Want my code? Go to GitLab. Want a copy of my behind a paywall paper from pre Gold open access? Well, I might have to get my own paper from Sci-Hub if you want the final published version because good god I might not have it. But I can do that and email it to you. But it saves all of us time and energy if you just go to Sci-Hub.

** All departments must have an Open Access Champion. They pick someone who will champion verbatim repetition of bad news not actual action on open access.

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


The thing with Stallman as always is he is extreme, weird, and extremely weird. Between eating things he finds on his feet and writing a rider with speaking demands about parrots he expresses a lot of opinions. These opinions very from nuanced points on free software, to the crazed ramblings of a conspiracy theorist. Herrin lies the problem. Having Stallman around will bring to light important points that probably no one else would raise, however this has to be filtered from the absurd. The FSF does a good job of filtering out the non-software related political/social commentary. The result are some suggestions which are still pretty unrealistic for those of us that want to do work in the real world. But I appreciate that they shift the Overton window towards software freedom. This all said, letting Stallman back in after what he said, and his characteristic refusal to apologise makes it very hard to argue that the FSF is an organisation that represents the movement. It makes it clear it is an organisation to promote Stallmanism, this damages the FSF and free software as a whole.