* Posts by Paul Kinsler

913 posts • joined 9 Aug 2007


FCC: Applications for funds to replace Chinese comms kit lack evidence

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: The "fake it 'till you make it" brigade.

Or, less cynically, and at least in part, the result of many organizations - which might well be entirely unused to the required bureaucracy and form-filling - trying to conform to unfamiliar processes, and simply making a hash of it.

Japan makes online insults a crime that can earn a year in jail

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: OK, I'll bite ...

It's worth making a distinction here: sometimes those who might be labelled as "presum[ing] to be offended on the behalf of others" are in fact rather *defending* those who might be in too weak a position, or be too scared, or be unable for other reasons to defend themselves.

The useful part of debates like those in this thread is not that the edge cases like clear cut bullying/harrassment, or of fake-offense, exist; and that we might have strong opinions about them. Rather, it is in considering how we might try to make judgements in the large grey area between them.

Look to insects if you want to build tiny AI robots that are actually smart

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: We should be glad that most humans don't operate on that basis.

s/don't operate/don't always operate/


Google engineer suspended for violating confidentiality policies over 'sentient' AI

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Turing tests?

A Turing test for free will

Seth Lloyd



Before Alan Turing made his crucial contributions to the theory of computation, he studied the question of whether quantum mechanics could throw light on the nature of free will. This paper investigates the roles of quantum mechanics and computation in free will. Although quantum mechanics implies that events are intrinsically unpredictable, the ‘pure stochasticity’ of quantum mechanics adds randomness only to decision-making processes, not freedom. By contrast, the theory of computation implies that, even when our decisions arise from a completely deterministic decision-making process, the outcomes of that process can be intrinsically unpredictable, even to—especially to—ourselves. I argue that this intrinsic computational unpredictability of the decision-making process is what gives rise to our impression that we possess free will. Finally, I propose a ‘Turing test’ for free will: a decision-maker who passes this test will tend to believe that he, she, or it possesses free will, whether the world is deterministic or not.

Microsoft brings tabs to File Explorer

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

We'd love your feedback on which tabs features you'd like to see next,

I reckon putting tabs in the scroll bar would be just awesome.


No more fossil fuel or nukes? In the future we will generate power with magic dust

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: raw rich text out of a word doc.

It looks more like latex to me... but then maybe rich text markup is similar?

Google calculates Pi to 100 trillion digits

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: We know pi is irrational, so it can't end that way

... or, indeed, end at all.

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: spot the difference

... but if all you do is you keep checking the new result against the old one, isn't that really just like going round in circles?

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: any other combination of numbers of course.

But care needs to be taken not to confuse combinations and permutations when making inferences here....

Distrobox 1.3.0: Run (pretty much) any Linux distro under almost any other

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Consider changing the way you work, and use one.

I use two.

Slackware for both "real work" and day-to-day.

Debian (w xfce desktop) as the second-boot option for laptops; it is slightly more likely to "just work", and for the basics (mainly web, ms teams, and some ad hoc games stuff; not my full suite), it is much easier to install & use without thinking.

There isn't much duplication because the way I use Debian requires very little effort at all.

Fusion won't avert need for climate change 'sacrifice', says nuclear energy expert

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: A Severn barrage would have adverse environmental impact.

Correct, but that's only talking about half the problem. So:

Would a Severn barrage cause more environmental problems than it would solve? (e.g. by replacing fossil burning)?

Mind you, it is not at all clear to me how you might balance and/or compare the two different impacts.

Beware the fury of a database developer torn from tables and SQL

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

The original translation reads

That might indeed be the original translation, but it doesn't scan as well as the popular version. So the discrepancy is probably just something we have to live with.

Arm CPU ran on electricity generated by algae for over six months

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: just as long as you remember to water it, daily

To be fair, that sounds a lot more interesting - and arguably personally satisfying - than "plug it into a charger, daily"

Europe proposes tackling child abuse by killing privacy, strong encryption

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Scunthorpe

Didn't someone try this sort of thing on Jack Straw, back in the day?

And did it make any difference?

Yahoo Japan strives for universal passwordless authentication

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

the phone is its own security.

There is, after all, a reason that MFA actually stands for "Mobile Fone Authentication" :-)

Google Docs crashed when fed 'And. And. And. And. And.'

Paul Kinsler Silver badge


Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger, Mushroom Mushroom, ...


Thinnet cables are no match for director's morning workout

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Isobel

I used to know someone who said they'd called their recently-arrived daughter Isobel; so I asked if it meant "a line of constant noise".

Unfortunately, he replied that she was actually named Isabel, not Isobel. And in a slightly irritated manner, I recall.


MIT's thin plastic speakers fall flat. And that's by design

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: How long ..... to give decent speakers

Ridiculous. They'll instead use the technology to make even worse speakers for your TV, but ones that save them a tiny amount of money per device.

An early crack at network management with an unfortunate logfile

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

and you won't even remember which idiot wrote it

I think a lot of the problem is that - having just written it - it is transparently obvious what it does, and why, and so it is difficult to actually work out what might need to be explained about something so (apparently) straightforward.

Really, I suppose, you should instead show it to someone else, and ask them to explain it ... at which time the relevant point to document might become clearer.

Blood pressure monitor won't arrive for Apple Watch before 2024 – report

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: it's not measurements

Hmm, I wonder if it could give better results if you tried to calibrate it against/with a traditional BP measurement... were the errors systematic, or random...?

Japanese startup makes baby carrier-style sling for 'Love Robots'

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

it's real alright

Some years back the Independent published an april fools story claiming that scientists had discovered an eighth colour in the rainbow. Most amusing.

But as it happened, such a thing had indeed been discovered. By William Herschel, no less, way back in 1800. :-)

DOI: 10.1098/rstl.1800.0015

(open access, and well worth a read, imo)

The first step to data privacy is admitting you have a problem, Google

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: "Let's tackle that by assuming good faith"

I think here the point of stating "by assuming good faith" is *not* because you actually believe there is good faith; it is rather to make it harder for the target to reject your arguments by characterising you as hostile.

Instead they have to actually engage in a discussion about how any claim to "good faith" they might make can be demonstrated; so, to an extent, *you* have set out the ground on which to debate the issue.

And if the target then tries to shift the focus of the debate away from "good faith", they can end up looking as if (or perhaps demonstrating that) they lack it.

Hackers remotely start, unlock Honda Civics with $300 tech

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: the $300 HackRF One

I like that you might buy the Hack RF one from somewhere calling itself "Wall of Sheep", but am disappointed that the Wall of Sheep is not in NZ.

RIP: Creators of the GIF and TRS-80

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Loved my TRS-80 as a kid.

My secondary school had one... it was probably the first computer I got to play with...

Activist investors attempt to push through racial diversity probe at Salesforce

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

wouldn't any sane employer ...

Well, indeed. But why should one assume all employers are sane, unbiased, and without predjudice?

Driver in Uber's self-driving car death goes on trial, says she feels 'betrayed'

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Experienced drivers ...

Irrespective of which way one might like to attribute fault or responsibility, the so-called "safety driver" was *not* the actual _driver_, because she was *not* doing the actual _driving_. They were employed to watch the car drive itself, in the hope that they might be able to intervene in time should something go amiss. Perhaps a better job title might be "drive supervisor" or something.

114 billion transistors, one big meh. Apple's M1 Ultra wake-up call

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Everything starts as an adventure ...

I think there is scope for something a bit more nuanced here. At a simple level, the "big industry" result includes making available robust (we hope) components or tools which might be combined in new ways to open up some new kind of "adventure".

But perhaps the main message might be that there is probably some benefit in working out how to promote ways of thinking thinking that looks to construct such new "adventures" by looking to use & combine the new (and old) industry-made tools that are available.

Mary Coombs, first woman commercial programmer, dies at 93

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: I'll have a beer for the Lady -

Or rather a cup of tea and some cake, surely. Lyon's wasn't a brewery :-)

Where are the (serious) Russian cyberattacks?

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: I put my brain on the 90° program [...] do I get a refund?

It depends. Did it get turned 90° as a right angle, or as a left angle? :-)

Internet backbone provider Lumen quits Russia

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Hire a few hundred thousand biplanes.

Biplanes are noisy and inelegant, when compared to a fleet of hot-air balloons, which could glide gracefully and silently across the landscape whilst distributing leaflets... :-)

Proprietary neural tech you had surgically implanted? Parts shortage

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: The error sound ...

I recall changing the error messages on my beeb from the defaults, so that instead they insulted me every time I triggered one.

However, it was only fun-like for a really quite surprisingly short amount of time :-)

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: But also "3. Disable visual effects."

And how's that Braille interface working out for you? :-)

Clearview AI plans tech to ID faces as they age, seek big government deals

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

"when they learned from the VOA, compared to those that were taught remotely by real experts"

Hmm. I wonder what might happen if they were taught by both methods; or perhaps even by non-remote experts.

Since different students tend to learn best in different ways, a range of approaches can give better overall results.

Apple seeks patent for 'innovation' resembling the ZX Spectrum, C64 and rPi 400

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Essentially the idea is that ...

"... you use your computer plugged into a display at work, then fold it up and put it in your bag to take home. At home, you unfold it and plug the single wire into another display and Robert is your mother's brother."

I've got one exactly like that. That is - my old laptop with the dead screen...

Experimental WebAssembly port of LibreOffice released

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Single user vs Multi-user collaboration

I think multi-user editing is fine at an /early/ stage, so that the multi-tude can throw in remarks, add paragraphs, subsections, or whatever according to their own interests or responsibilities. The ghastly -- but hopefully fairly complete -- soup could then be cleaned up by one chosen author, with comments (but not editting) by the others.

Although now sometime in the past, I'm still scarred by the time both I and my phd supervisor made significant, in parallel, and notationally incompatible changes to a reasonably advanced latex document. The resulting manual merging process was not very fun. So now, apart from any early "soup" stages that might arise from using (eg) overleaf, I tend to either take control of a manuscript, or stand back and make comments while someone else does.

I'm very picky who I might send any latex files to. I use a system of line breaks and indents to keep it readable (especially for equations), and allow useful diffs between versions. This is frequently mangled by the editors of others, which usually either insist on re-formatting lines so they have similar lengths, or turn each paragraph into one long unbroken line.

Dark-mode Task Manager unveiled by original's creator

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Light and dark mode but

As someone who has been changing the fore- and background colors in command prompts, xterms, window handles, menus, and the like for more decades than I care to admit, I should really be baffled by all the "dark mode" nonsense. "What sort of crippled software gets foisted on people so as to make this an interesting thing to even mention?", I should be thinking.

But, sadly, it happens too often to cause genuine bafflement any more.

I mean, really. I probably could have tweaked one of my unimpressive programs on something 8bit to have a "dark mode" and a "light mode" if I wanted.

Edit: no, wait. I think they were already "dark mode" -like. I'd have had to code a "light mode" instead.

Nobara Project brings whole bunch of extensions so you can frag noobs on Fedora 35

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

The more upstart distros ...

... the better, and why not?

On the other hand, Slackware 15 has just arrived ... :-)

How to get banned from social media without posting a thing

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: [social media] ... what you just posted on is part of it.

I tend to agree ... but also not agree.

Early internet "social media" were (at least in my experience) just that, /social/ media: e.g. usenet was based on groups, irc had channels, etc. You might have thrown your ego about in such forums, and some were admins or moderators, but essentially the forum was about the group or social interest of those who turned up and posted/talked there. Like these ElReg forums, mostly.

In contrast, what is now called "social media" tend to be explicitly about ego: e.g. /my/ twitter feed, /my/ facebook page, /my/ blogcast, &etc. So I'd rather call it "Ego media" rather than "social media", but my one vote counts for little, especially since I don't have a twittr account or whatever. So these forums don't really fir into "social media" in the contemporary sense.

Hang on, I've got an idea. Maybe I should start up a blogcast (whatever that is :) entitled "Clog Blast", since that sounds superficially amusing. But what should it be about? [1]


[1] Well, about *me*, obviously :-) ... and ...er... clogs?

Throw away your Ethernet cables* because MediaTek says Wi-Fi 7 will replace them

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

if you're one room away ...

... the solution will be to run some ethernet to that other room, and put a cabled-up wifi7 router in there :-)

IPv6 is built to be better, but that's not the route to success

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Can you understand what the "actual internet" mean[s]

Until you explained what your personal definition of the "actual internet" was, no, I didn't know what you meant by the "actual internet"; and, clearly neither did that other commentard.

And I as far as I might understand now what you meant, I think "actual internet" is not a good descriptor of it; and I think your phrasing is quite likely to give rise to similar confusions rather frequently.

Robot vacuum cleaner employed by Brit budget hotel chain Travelodge flees

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Love, Death & Robots

... and twas based on a short(ish) story by Alastair Reynolds, IIRC.

BOFH: What a beautiful classic car. Shame if anything were to happen to it

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Jesus Built My Hotrod

I once had my radio alarm clock wake me up to that very track, although perhaps tuning it to 4ZZZ had always been a slightly rash decision, and especially given who was doing the show that morning. Thanks Mark! :-)

The robots are coming! 12 million jobs lost to automation in Europe by 2040 – analyst

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Those numbers

ZHC's can be, also, extremely unpleasant for those who need regular income, but can only get a ZHC; especially if the ZHC makes it impossible to have other work at the same time (perhaps by some stipulation that you must *always* be available at no notice).

The task therefore, for regulation, is to somehow balance the benefits and costs of a situation with two extremes. It might be, for example, that the positive side of ZHC's are more socially significant than the costs; or it might not.

Billionaires see wealth double during pandemic as tech bros lead the charge

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: ... No one in the UK is anywhere near the bottom 50% poorest on the planet.

I never said they were. My trailing "wouldn't go far" remark was merely emphasis to avoid anyone thinking I was suggesting it might be (given this is a UK site, contexts are often implicitly UK focussed)

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

... would each get $100 or so.

Ah, so like microcredit. Apparently it can be quite the help for the very poorest, even if it wouldn't go far in the UK.

Plumspace's Smart SFP TAP can monitor, capture or relay gigabit-speed comms – for legitimate business reasons

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Throughput not great

Indeed. It's about 8 seconds since I last got a bit through at that speed :-)

Massive rugby ball-shaped planet emerges from scrum of space 'scope sightings

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Birth of a planet

More about the hatching than laying, but "Born of the Sun", Jack Williamson, 1934

Info-saturated techie builds bug alert service that phones you to warn of new vulns

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

be horrified at the idea of strangers being able to wake them

Well, I get that, but isn't that more or less what the "On Call" people are for?

Did you look up? New Year's Day boom over Pittsburgh was exploding meteor, says NASA

Paul Kinsler Silver badge

Re: Pedant Alert!

I can't claim any expertise on sonic booms, but my guess that in a simple model would be there would be some change from mach 1 to 2 or 3, but after than not so much. But in a real atmosphere, with a real object it could be quite complicated.



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