* Posts by Count Ludwig

109 publicly visible posts • joined 7 Aug 2007


Father of Unix Ken Thompson checkmated: Old eight-char password is finally cracked

Count Ludwig

Use your pet's name...

My cat is called Password123

Not a death spiral, I'm trapped in a closed loop of customer experience

Count Ludwig

Re: The phrase "User Experience" is misleading

Self-assessment tax return time is coming round again - and it reminds me that I had a hand in coding part of that wonderful website. We knew we had nailed it when, during UX testing, a member of the public actually burst into tears crying "I don't know what to do - this is so confusing" - in the testing suite in Central London.

Shouts of "Yes!" and fist-bumps from the product managers of the project.

Why build your own cancer-sniffing neural network when this 1.3 exaflop supercomputer can do if for you?

Count Ludwig

Role of humans in a semi-automated detection system

If you have a semi-automated cancer detection system then you need to pay careful attention to the job of the humans, otherwise you can render them useless and possibly kill more people than if you had not used the system at all.

Seems counter-intuitive - how is this possible? Apologies for the long explanation:-

Imagine a haystack that contains 1) some shiny needles, 2) some not so shiny needles, 3) some needles that could possibly be mistaken for straw, 4) quite a lot of straw that looks like needles 5) a massive load of straw that is obviously straw.

Any needle that is not found in time will go rusty.

Up till now you have had humans looking for the needles - a mind-numbing job but one that requires high qualification. They've been able to do it, kind of, so far, but it would be great if we could improve the situation.

Now you get a machine to find and remove the shiniest needles, and the not so shiny needles.

You are left with needles that look like straw, straw that looks like needles, and a load of stuff that is obviously straw.

This leaves the humans with the job of sorting through a load of straw to find a few needles that look like straw.

Those needles will probably not be found, and will go rusty. And the highly qualified humans whose mind-numbing job has just got far worse will go mad or leave.

Better for the automated system to remove what is obviously straw and leave the interesting cases for the highly qualified humans.

The proof is in the measuring: does the rate of cancer deaths go down when system X is used?

We would normally measure this for a fully automated system anyway, but my point it's even more necessary to measure this for a semi-automated system given the temptation to assume adding flashy computers is bound to be better than using humans alone (also consider the high staff turnover in such a semi-automated system).


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

Count Ludwig


Steve Brazier, CEO of Canalysis said:

"... After the events of this week, it seems now inconceivable that Brexit, in any form, will happen in 2019"

He might not be able to conceive it, but to me is seems conceptually quite possible / likely that we crash out on Oct 31st.

Cambridge Analytica dismantled for good? Nope: It just changed its name to Emerdata

Count Ludwig

Je t'emmerde ! = Screw you !

I'm not a fluent francophone but even I laughed out loud as soon as I saw the name "Emmerdata".

Mercer et al are sending us a clear message.


Simon's Cat app rapped for random 'racy' advert

Count Ludwig



Programmer's < fumble jeopardizes thousands of medical reports

Count Ludwig

MVC Separation of church and state

... luckily the data in the reports was held completely separately from the component used to display it, so they only needed to change the displaying component to show ">" properly, and no patients were required to undergo re-testing ...

Wasn't it?

Kid found a way to travel for free in Budapest. He filed a bug report. And was promptly arrested

Count Ludwig

Re: Did not disclose the bug publically.

"he posted it to an email address they don't read"

Um, it seems they did read it, and their reaction was to call the police.

Brit neural net pioneer just revolutionised speech recognition all over again

Count Ludwig

Re: The new bio metric?

But that doesn't matter because... repeat after me...

A voice-print is a username, not a password.

A voice-print is a username, not a password.

A voice-print is a username, not a password.


and no-one would be silly enough to use it to authenticate anything, would they?

Biometric data stolen from corporate lunch rooms system

Count Ludwig

Repeat after me...

A fingerprint is a username, not a password, and you can never change it.

A fingerprint is a username, not a password, and you can never change it.


Someone is sending propaganda texts to Ukrainian soldiers

Count Ludwig

Re: Biased much?

Well, that's a view. I think you're wrong. My view is that Yanukovych, while he may have been voted in, quickly showed himself to be totally corrupt, cynically so to the point of stupidity, and was correctly and legally thrown out by parliament. I also take the view that "civilian populations" did not rise up, but that Russia paid or persuaded some bods to "call for help" and not only supplied them, but also crossed the border, so that the Ukranian army was / is fighting people armed and trained by Russia, and very likely also fighting Russias operating in Ukraine.

While I have the floor, my view is that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a Russian-backed rebel with a missile provided by Russia.

I don't know what the civilian population really feel, but in my view accusations of attempted genocide and nazism by Ukraine are not accurate here, whereas accusations of manipulative power-play by Russia are.

There is conflicting evidence, deliberately so in some cases, but I believe it supports my view, not yours.

Force employees to take DNA tests for bosses? We've got a new law to make that happen, beam House Republicans

Count Ludwig

Re: LDS Sure it will lower employer costs and promote an healthy workforce...

If you give men and women the same parental leave there is no reason to discriminate based on sex. It might make cause you to discriminate in favour of older workers though, or gay ones.

Blundering Boeing bod blabbed spreadsheet of 36,000 coworkers' personal details in email

Count Ludwig

Re: Here we go again

Nothing personal about my downvote. It's all too common, and I have often been such a dev / DBA claiming I cannot do my job without such access. But these days I feel it's possible, and best practice, to design your set-up so that no such access is required, or only permitted in the presence of someone pointing a gun at you as you type.

AI eggheads: Our cancer-spotting code rivals dermatologists

Count Ludwig

Better to eliminate true all-clears, rather than detect cancers

Funnily enough it's possible to kill more people by using a cancer-detecting machine than by not using one. This is because the machine finds the obvious positives, and leaves highly qualified humans with the mind-numbing job of trying to find the remaining hard-to-spot false negatives in a load of true negatives. The humans simply cannot, so the false negative cases remain undiagnosed and are more likely to die.

If instead the machine eliminates a percentage of true negatives ("completely normal, nothing to see here") then humans are left with a more interesting job - find the true positives in a smaller, "richer" selection of samples that the machine has flagged as "not quite normal". Incremental improvements in the machine should be in the direction of extending the definition of "absolutely normal" leaving humans with an even more interesting job.

Statisticians and systems bods might get this but tech-dazzled doctors often do not. If you really must have a headline-grabbing cancer detector then run it over the samples after humans have looked at them, not before.

Peace-sign selfie fools menaced by fingerprint-harvesting tech

Count Ludwig

Repeat after me...

A fingerprint* is a username not a password.

A fingerprint* is a username not a password.

A fingerprint* is a username not a password.


* includes retina scans, voice-prints and anything else that is a username not a password.

Virgin Galactic and Boom unveil Concorde 2.0 tester to restart supersonic travel

Count Ludwig

Get rid of those windows to ...

reduce design cost and complexity

possibly reduce weight (all that reinforcement)

probably reduce noise

increase safety

<your Windows Advantage (tm) here>

A nice long pub crawl is good for your health, if you stay on your feet

Count Ludwig

Moderation is for monks

In the words of the Prophet Heinlein:

“Everything in excess! To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks.”

Three non-obvious reasons to Vote Leave on the 23rd

Count Ludwig

Our place in the world

It's taken us ages to get here, but at the moment we have / are:

- 5th largest economy in the world

- clear access to the huge EU trading block

- head of the Commonwealth (cheers Brenda)

- an ancient democracy

- a special relationship with the US (unless Trump gets in)

- a cracking time-zone

- Trident (for better or worse)

- one of 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council

We have political and economic clout out of all proportion to our size because of al of these conditions.

We are a global nexus, let's not damage it. So I vote* to KEEP THE TIMEZONE THE WAY IT IS!

*Oh, and to stay in the EU.

UK's education system blamed for IT jobs going to non-Brits

Count Ludwig

@Dr. Mouse - Difference between programmer and software engineer

Hmm, I am not convinced by that analogy.

I think a programmer should be doing what Dr. Mouse said a software engineer does, and I think it is would be a dysfunctional shop in which those two roles, as described, are separate.

So I don't really trust the term "software engineer", I am not surprised if someone else doesn't understand it, and I don't think they would be able to explain the difference to a third person else based on those definitions.

Rap for rap chap in crap rap app flap: Jay-Z blasted by privacy bods

Count Ludwig

Alternative to Cash Cow business model

So there we were in prev Reg forums wondering what business model could possibly replace the media Cash Cow - so ubiquitous that contravening it (i.e. copying) is "theft".

And here it is:

We give away free music / vids / whatever.

The price? Your details, which we can sell on, or data-mine, or use to try to sell you more stuff.

Not necessarily a problem so long as you know what you're getting into.

Australian Prime Minister: Mayan calendar 'true'

Count Ludwig

Hearts and minds

"He who is not a socialist at 19, has no heart. He who is still a socialist at 30, has no brain."

Variously attributed to Churchill, Bismark and Clemenceau

Einstein almost tagged dark energy in the early 1920s

Count Ludwig

Re: Being really pedantic here


And the fortuitous typo: "big bank" was icing on the cake. (It was a typo wasn't it?)

Of course you might be a troll, wrapped like a mummy in irony - I mean citing "half a year A level physics" as argumentum ad verecundiam to a professional comologist was worthy of Henry Root - in which case I still thank you, multifold.

Either way you owe me a new kb!

Half of all app store revenue goes to just 25 developers

Count Ludwig

Survival of the Fittest is a tautology

Forgive me @appsdelight.com for what I am about to do:-

"It's a highly over-saturated market but like every industry the good ones will survive will [sic] the others will move on."

Definition of "the good ones" = "the ones that survive"

Search and replace in above sentence + sprinkle syntactic sugar:

"It's a highly over-saturated market but like every industry the ones that survive will survive [and] the others will move on."

Contract + sprinkle more syntactic / logical sugar:

"It's a highly over-saturated market but like every industry some will survive and others will move on."

And again, (selectively picking one of the last two assertions for emphasis):

"It's a highly over-saturated market; there will be deaths."

I couldn't agree more!

Mine's the coat that's mine.

Belgian finds missus was born a MAN after 19 YEARS of marriage

Count Ludwig

Last lines of 'Some Like It Hot'

Jerry: Oh no you don't! Osgood, I'm gonna level with you. We can't get married at all.

Osgood: Why not?

Jerry: Well, in the first place, I'm not a natural blonde.

Osgood: Doesn't matter.

Jerry: I smoke! I smoke all the time!

Osgood: I don't care.

Jerry: Well, I have a terrible past. For three years now, I've been living with a saxophone player.

Osgood: I forgive you.

Jerry: [tragically] I can never have children!

Osgood: We can adopt some.

Jerry: But you don't understand, Osgood! Ohh...

[Jerry finally gives up and pulls off his wig]

Jerry: [normal voice] I'm a man!

Osgood: [shrugs] Well, nobody's perfect!

[Jerry looks on with disbelief as Osgood continues smiling with indifference. Fade out]

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053291/quotes (search for 'perfect')

Mission to Pluto faces DEEP SPACE DEBRIS PERIL

Count Ludwig

Re: Wow

Moonlet, ringlet?

Uh oh - I foresee another diminuative vocabulary coming:- orblet, probelet, featurelet, debrilet, alienlet, If it docks with something that'll be a doc-let (tm).

Mine's the one with Pluto's IP address in the pocket-let.

Laptop innovator Moggridge dies aged 69

Count Ludwig
Thumb Up

Space shuttle connection

Did you know it was used aboard the space shuttle (RIP) ?


ANU scientists in a record-breaking tangle

Count Ludwig

Where the sun doesn't shine...

I congratulate the boffins at ANUS for shining light in an area that previously lacked illumination.

Real Networks will refund $2m to grumpy punters

Count Ludwig

Re: "More importantly, those practices were not up to the high standards we expect of ourselves."


'Nuff said.

Cure IT ills with a holistic approach to management

Count Ludwig

What did he say, actually?

Most of the article is spent extolling something called "more coherent service management".

My eyes start to glaze over but, ok I'll bite, so I go back and find the definition and I think this is where he laid it out:.

Problem description: "When systems are implemented and managed in isolation, it can be difficult to get an end-to-end view of how they interact.."

Solution: "What is clear is that by managing the major elements of infrastructure as a unit – across servers, storage, network devices and so on – the number of potentially conflicting variables and activities can be reduced,..."

And caveat "However, technology-level integration on its own can deliver only so much; operational >>processes also need to be modified to achieve the full potential."

So, um, my question is how are we supposed to do this?

I mean I've got my own ideas of course but I was hoping for some wisdom from the guru.


Boffins tout solar efficiency boost

Count Ludwig

Sauce for the goose...*

*: ¡Ceuta maroc!"

Biologists create synthetic DNA capable of EVOLUTION

Count Ludwig


Keyboard sellers gonna love you!

'Half baked' Brussels data law fails to thrill

Count Ludwig

Laws and Sausages

As Otto von Bismark *didn't* say: "I've seens laws made and sausages made - neither is pretty."

I think there ought to be a law against making bad laws - ones that have unintended effects.

... no, wait ...

German ISP doesn't have to block foreign 'illegal' betting sites

Count Ludwig
Thumb Up

Yup - that's the one


Count Ludwig

@AC 09:06 So does that make it OK for Duetche Telecomm to........

Can we have a "Won't somebody think of the children" icon?

Or else a straw man icon. O|-<

Or else that kiddie pronagraphic Olympic logo*

*Actually I am in favour of banning the Olympic logo - it's an effing migraine.

US killer spy drone controls switch to Linux

Count Ludwig

Iran's answer to Stuxnet?

Wouldn't it be funny if one of the controllers' PCs got infected and sent a drone to unaccountably land in Iran? Wait...

Keyboard coffee icon because I just read out the first line of the article and raised hoots of laughter from around the office.

Hero dev writes the CODE that COULD SAVE THE WORLD

Count Ludwig

Astronomical Unit testing?

Using a package called AUnit.

Alright, alright I'm going

MySociety marshals griping commuters to fix UK transport

Count Ludwig

Read the fine manual


NSFW if you're in Syria, Iran, China, Zimbabwe, Belorussia...

Mine's the one with the paranoid troll in the pocket

Reindeer can see in ultraviolet, say boffins

Count Ludwig
Paris Hilton

Unsympathetic character traits in reindeer

Indeed, it's well documented that reindeer are fickle bastards: first they laugh at poor Rudolph and call him names, then after Santa puts him on point, suddenly they all love him and shout with glee.

So, no I wouldn't have one as a friend - might make a nice stew though.

Paris - now she would make a good friend - a best friend even.

Cellphone exposure linked to changes in brain activity

Count Ludwig

Depends what is being said

50 mins on the phone causes altered brain activity? I'm not surprised.

Could be due to what is being said - or could be due to frustration at spending 50mins in a helpline queue listening to muzak.

Stuxnet blitzed 5 Iranian factories over 10-month period

Count Ludwig

Israeli Mil Grade ICE Breaker

This stuff could have come straight from Burning Chrome (except there it was Russian).

Maybe The Finn will sell you a copy.

MOSSAD SPY VULTURE seized in Saudi Arabia

Count Ludwig

U O Me A Nu KB

Beautiful !

Facebook trains self to recognize your face

Count Ludwig
Black Helicopters

Seen today's Dilbert?


Synchronicity or what?

New pocket-sized smartbomb - just for killer robots

Count Ludwig

Shurly I'm not the first to say...

Mine'h the one with the... (you get the rest)

Hackers plant Firefox 0day on Nobel Peace Prize website

Count Ludwig

How did they hack the website?

But how did the perps manage to get their code placed on the Nobel Prize website?

Probably something like:


user: Admin

pw: Alfr3d

Robot teddy bears attack Alzheimer's

Count Ludwig

therapeutic tool

"Its interaction with real people that helps, not some silly toy."

I don't think that's necessarily true. The teddy can give consistent responses, is non-threatening, and can be used by the patient to safely try out different behaviours (such as strategies for coping with their condition, or physical exercises) that they might be reluctant to do with a human.

But I would expect they need human interaction too, although I'm not a doctor.

EFF backs political site's Righthaven counter-suit

Count Ludwig

4Chan - help!

We need you now.

Google punts url shortener to world+dog

Count Ludwig

Comparison with TinyURL.com

Just tried goo.gl -

Great that you can see your other shortened URLs (I keep forgetting my TinyURLs)

But TinyURL let's you choose your own mnemonic (if it's not already used) - can you do same please goo.gl?

Group recommends joint NATO-Russia 'cyber' war games

Count Ludwig

War Gamez

"OK, now we're going to pretend to disable your electricity grid Don't worry, it's only a simulated attack"


"Oops, sorry about that, seems we got UAT and LIVE mixed up."

England beat Germany - what are the odds?

Count Ludwig

What was the score?

I didn't see the match - did England lose?