* Posts by Alan Hope

56 posts • joined 13 Jul 2016


Computer scientists at University of Edinburgh contemplate courses without 'Alice' and 'Bob'

Alan Hope

My goodness!

Windows 11 in detail: Incremental upgrade spoilt by onerous system requirements and usability mis-steps

Alan Hope

This is the sort of thing they would pick up almost immediately if they ran "usability labs".

One-size-fits-all chargers? What a great idea! Of course Apple would hate it

Alan Hope

Doesn't sound quite right...

I'm curious, if your original Apple connectors never failed, why were you having to buy "plenty of third party" connectors which then did?

LibreOffice 7.2 brings improved but still imperfect Microsoft Office compatibility

Alan Hope

I'll try it, but...

Can Libreoffice now do one-click "save and email" ?

I try each new version, but it's the slick little timesavers like this that take me back to Microsoft every time.

UK data regulator fines American Express up to 0.021p per email after opted-out folk spammed 4.1 million times

Alan Hope

Appalling reputational damage to the regulators.

That sum won't even cover the cost of the admin leading to the fine.

Zero deterrent value - the message is clear to all other businesses, you can span in the UK with absolute impunity.

Home office setup with built-in boiling water tap for tea and coffee without getting up is a monument to deskcess

Alan Hope

or just get a desk and a flask.

Alan Hope

correction, 60deg will take 30 minutes to pasteurise anything. Actually 63deg.

Brexit freezes 81,000 UK-registered .eu domains – and you've all got three months to get them back

Alan Hope

Do the letters EU in a .eu domain signify "Europe" (ie a geographical entity), or "the European Union" (ie a political entity) ?

Capita inks deal with NHS to 'bring back staff': Workers get an hour of training to recruit and vet retired doctors, nurses

Alan Hope

Re: Training problem?

Perhaps Capita thought you were a surgeon, hence a Mr.

Alan Hope

Re: Just use pay roll records from a year ago ...

We totally don't want doctors from 5+ years ago to do anything clinical without an extended induction. They could help by turning patients which is a team effort, arranging blood tests, or taking rubbish bins out though.

"Payroll" do not run clinical services.

This is also a system for GPs, right? UK doctors seek clarity over Health dept's £40m single sign-on funding

Alan Hope

GP Appointments...

"Can I have an appointment, please."

"How about 10 tomorrow?"

"No. I only need the one."

Think your smartwatch is good for warning of a heart attack? Turns out it's surprisingly easy to fool its AI

Alan Hope

Re: Training...

In this case, is there any point? I can confidently, instantly, and correctly identify the examples given from across the room. The ECG is a millivolt signal which in the real world always has some perturbations - we are used to this. This particular example is a disastrous performance for the AI.

Vendor-bender LibreOffice kicks out 6.4: Community project feel, though now with added auto-█████ tool

Alan Hope

"The Liberation Serif font, which is the default, does not look good on screen, in Windows at least. The kerning is not quite right, which affects readability."

It's not just Liberation Serif ... LibreOffice cannot kern ANY font correctly: Arial, Times New Roman, etc etc.

I dearly wish they would fix this instead of playing about with things like auto-redaction. And yes, I know we have to forgive LO all its rough edges because it's an open source project, but do none of the code contributors care about the poor typeface rendering?

LibreOffice 6.4 nearly done as open-source office software project prepares for 10th anniversary

Alan Hope

Can Writer handle typefaces yet?

Ach, I'm always tempted to have a go. But LibreOffice Writer is still unable to render and kern fonts to anywhere near the quality of MS Word and I hate having my eyes jarred by every document I load or create. So I uninstall yet again and wait for the next version. Anybody know if font rendering and kerning has been fixed in v 6.4?

Bon sang! French hospital contracts 6,000 PC-locking ransomware infection

Alan Hope

Re: La Guillotine

Yet another "scan-negative headache" doctor.

Yes, it's great.

Traffic lights worldwide set to change after Swedish engineer saw red over getting a ticket

Alan Hope

Surely you don't need to change the amber light timing, just add a tiny delay to the time the red light camera gets triggered.

The Tell-Tale Heart! Boffins build an AI that can tell your sex using just your heartbeat

Alan Hope

In ECGs in women, overall: the heart rate is faster, left axis deviation is twice as common, ST and T-wave abnormalities are almost twice as common, LBBB (left bundle branch block) is slightly more common, etc etc etc for all other ECG parameters.

So I could probably give you a decent guess, from a standard 12-lead ECG, whether it was male or female. I doubt the AI is doing anything more.

But there is a more reliable and faster way to determine whether someone is biologically male or female.

ps the title is slightly misleading, it's not from your "heartbeat" but from a 12-lead ECG (which is a complex surface electrical representation of your "heartbeat").

Bit of a time-saver: LibreOffice emits 6.3 with new features, loading and UI boosts

Alan Hope

Opened Libreoffice Writer. Typed my first name "Alan" in Arial (12 point).

Yep, ugly as ever, LO Writer STILL can't kern text. The "A" and the "l" are squashed together then an ugly gap before the second "a".

Guys, look at Microsoft Word (any version) to see how text should be displayed!

Sleeping Tesla driver wonders why his car ploughed into 11 traffic cones on a motorway

Alan Hope

Re: Autopilots aren't infallible

Indeed. Tesla have not addressed the psychological consequences of driving while using Autopilot.

Brexit? HP Inc laughs in the face of Brexit! Hard or soft, PC maker claims it's 'no significant risk'

Alan Hope

Re: Impact will vary

You state "The brexitters assure us that 'no deal' and WTO rules will be absolutely fine." ... well, no Brexiter I have listened to (the pub doesn't count) has said this - although that bald statement is probably truer than the "utter disaster" ones if you really insist on polarising things.

Brexiters state that a friendly, mutually beneficial deal would be better for both the UK and the EU than WTO. The EU looks like it may deny us this. However, UK under WTO will be a constantly improving scenarion depending on the scale and nature of the preparations made in the run-up. That is now key. WTO trading will be a bit scrappy for a while, but the UK is not a trivial player in world trade terms and will do at least OK, and I like to thing probably rather well in the longer term.

LibreOffice 6.2 is here: Running up a Tab at the NotebookBar? You can turn it all off if you want

Alan Hope

Re: Font problems

I noticed this too - hits the first time user between the eyes when they fire up Writer and type in their first 3 words.

First impressions matter, guys.

Alan Hope

And Writer is developing into what looks like a usable epub creator.

6.2 can handle images. You can specify a cover. epub2 or epub3.

Keep working on it guys, this is one feature MS do not have.

GCHQ pushes for 'virtual crocodile clips' on chat apps – the ability to silently slip into private encrypted comms

Alan Hope

If GCHQ could already use ghost accounts to access our encrypted comms then this is EXACTLY the sort of request and discussion they would want in the public domain... an easy way to feed us the notion that currently we can use these apps freely and securely for our deepest darkest secrets.

EU Android latest: Critics diss Google's money-spinning 'cure'

Alan Hope

Perhaps we feel that Google should pay users for their cash-cow slurp by giving them their software free plus a regular sum of money which represents an individual user's fair share of their mind-bogglingly vast profits.

The Chinese are here: Xiaomi to bring phones to the UK next month

Alan Hope

Re: If this was five years ago...

"... GPS pointing in entirely the wrong [random] direction, ..."

fyi, GPS is non-directional, it is purely a position system. For direction you need magnetometers, but more and more phones are coming without these. In which case your software needs to use a moving GPS location to generate direction.

Softcat warns of Brexit cloud forming over UK tech, vows: If prices rise, we'll pass them on...

Alan Hope

Re: There's always an excuse to increase prices, but...

"Pretty conclusive"? I see lots of "pending", and "awaiting application" countries. However I see the mighty Greenland is fully on board with a "trade agreement", and you can tell how important that is... I mean just look at the SIZE of that red splotch!

Alan Hope

Re: There's always an excuse to increase prices, but...

Exactly. It is against EU law for us, even at this stage in the Brexit process, to even start to broker free-trade agreements with other countries. Yet our Remainer friends persist with their patronising, "remind me, exactly how many free-trade agreements does the UK have outside the EU" etc etc. Sigh.

UK.gov looks to data to free people from contract lock-in doom

Alan Hope

Re: Business Opportunity!!

Basically, the cheapest contract for each service would immediately get 100% of the customers. Then to stop themselves going to the wall all other companies would have to undercut because if they offered the same price, then absolutely no reason to change.

A perfect free market! Would end up with the first company offering just-keep-afloat pricing surviving, and all the others would go bust. Then might as well nationalise it and run it entirely at cost.

'Men only' job ad posts land Facebook in boiling hot water with ACLU

Alan Hope

Re: Equality in advertising

Curiously, nowadays and increasingly commonly, gender does change.

Scrapping UK visa cap on nurses, doctors opened Britain's doors to IT workers

Alan Hope

Re: our NHS will be short staffed

They've been turning away Australian nurses because they don't speak good enough English.

Leeds hospital launches campaign to 'axe the fax'

Alan Hope

Re: The basics

Hard copy ECG to be sent.

1. Fax in Drs Office, to Fax in receiving Drs Office

2. Scanner in Drs office, into computer in Drs office, image attached to email message, sent to receiving Drs office, printed on printer in receiving Drs Office.

Ah, yes, that's so much better!

Alan Hope

Fax or Whatsapp?

Fax or Whatsapp ... which is best for sending a copy of an ECG when a copy is requested as part of an urgent referral to specialists at another NHS hospital? Hard copy by drone? Scanned photo as email attachment? Before you brag about "axing the fax" define the alternatives and tell us all why a fax is any worse / less secure / less reliable.

US watchdog OKs robo-doc AI that spies eye disease all on its own

Alan Hope

"Meaning that 13% of patients with the disease are not detected. That's not great, and I'm surprised they are proposing to remove the doctors entirely. Could it be that the doctors are even worse?"

The reason we know there is a false-negative and false-positive rate is that the diagnostic criteria have been defined by doctors and the false-negatives and positives are then identified by professionals. Qualified medical consultants remain the gold standard and will be so for a very long time.

What is presented here, is an AI-based pattern-recognition screening system that may improve the pickup rate of, or perhaps be used to help initial training of non-medical "graders".

FBI boss: We went to the Moon, so why can't we have crypto backdoors? – and more this week

Alan Hope

Re: Eggs out of pancakes

Perfectly possible. You just feed the pancakes to a hen and a cow, they will process them for you and return your eggs and milk.

Fix this faxing hell! NHS told to stop hanging onto archaic tech

Alan Hope

I miss NHS fax machines

As a trainee doctor, ward fax machines were perfect "push notifications". During a busy day we sent off blood tests, arranged investigations. While working on a busy ward it was brilliant that as soon as a result was available or a test reported, the fax machine buzzed. At next opportunity we would check the result, initial it, and stick it in the notes.

The current expensive network systems are miles away from providing the speed and convenience of this setup. We have no push system, and are reduced to repeatedly logging in and going through interface-hell to see if an important result is available yet.

Providing timely clinical information to busy medical staff in the NHS has without a doubt gone a long long way backwards since the 1990s :(

Cops: Autonomous Uber driver may have been streaming The Voice before death crash

Alan Hope

The only way to have a fully aware and instantly reactive driver is to have them actually perform the task of "driving".

When you're driving you have a constant state of heightened awareness of what is going on around you, and what might happen at any time. As a passenger in a self-driving car you simply don't, and self-driving tech can never change basic human psychology. And, yes, I know we have our weak points too but road accident rates continue to fall.

I am now convinced it's not going to happen until we have 100% autonomous vehicles that can cope with all conditions and eventualities. And that is a very very long way off. Driving as we know it is here to stay.

Zombie Cambridge Analytica told 'death' can't save it from the law

Alan Hope

Re: Fob off is a very polite way of describing it

"The retarded spellchecker on android does not know the word Taleban and ate the b."

... because it's actually spelt Taliban :)

However, not unreasinable to expect it to properly correct that one.

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

Alan Hope

Re: Claim They Did Nothing Wrong...

Folk with a social conscience and a philanthropic bent are still around, just that the big movers and shakers in our world are all scoring high on the psycopathy scale.

Why are we disappointed with the best streaming media box on the market?

Alan Hope

Re: @NonSSL

So, Roku Media player will play my LAN content...

"Not available in your region" :(


UK users get a pretty poor deal from Roku.

Well done, UK.gov. You hit superfast broadband target (by handing almost the entire project to BT)

Alan Hope

Leafy Glasgow west-end suburbs here @ 20Mbs (FTTC) but I bet we're included in BT's 95% figure. Wonder what the ACTUAL figure is. 10% perhaps.

UK taxman has domain typo-squatter stripped of HMRC web addresses

Alan Hope

Re: LoL!

Yep, the domains are still available to buy.

Prosecute driverless car devs for software snafus, say Brit cyclists

Alan Hope

Re: Fair enough, but...

Because the next obvious step is an absolute requirement for insurance for children running. A fast moving child can knock someone over you know!

Firefox doesn't need to be No 1 – and that's OK, 'cos it's falling off a cliff

Alan Hope

"Um, "as a developer", you do know you can customise the toolbars such that the reload button can be next to the navigation buttons?"

Just tried it again. You can drag/drop all the other buttons but not the reload button.

Which then begs the question... why not include the reload button in the toolbar customisation?

Anyway, it was just 1 of many small things. Maybe I've just become too familiar with Chrome.

Alan Hope

Hard to change over once you have used Chrome. Firefox can't properly import your Chrome bookmarks (it puts them all in a single folder). Then, as a developer, the reload button is an annoying distance away from the navigation buttons causing instant and constant extra mousing around. My chosen theme has yet again become "not-compatible" after an auto-update. My eye is constantly distracted by the curvy tabs and the odd-sized and very dated-looking round buttons - though maybe in time I would get used to them.

Give your users a clunky experience and they will pick an alternative. I've nothing against Firefox and I keep it there for testing but I'm afraid basic usability trumps memory-efficiency on a high-end computer.

Do hate the data-slurping though. Is there any way to configure Firefox to look and work like Chrome? :)

Ubuntu 'weaponised' to cure NHS of its addiction to Microsoft Windows

Alan Hope

Re: Not a *buntu fan, but more power to 'em!

Offends my OCD - ubuntu is a word not an acronym. NHSbuntu would be like NHSindows. Why not "UbuntuNHS"?

Hard-pressed Juicero boss defends $400 IoT juicer after squeezing $120m from investors

Alan Hope

Re: Easy juice? Sounds good to me.

Ok, I'll bite. Exactly which "valuable nutrients" in veg makes them healthy? Guess what. Despite vast sums spent on research, you can ask any dietitian, nutritionist, professor of nutrition science, etc etc and they simply don't know. They can't even hazard a reasonable guess as a starting point for further research. Is chlorophyll some sort of mysterious unrecognised wonder-food? Is it the water in them? Maybe the cellulose? We know for sure (the science has been done) it is not eating an excess of vitamins.

So your "energy levels" are higher after drinking "green juice"? Ah the power of the human mind. What pharmaco-physiological effects do you think might be boosting your "energy levels" beyond, say, some carbohydrates (in which case try some of your favourite sugar-filled fizzy drink instead).

And the evidence behind the "3-a-day", or "8-a-day", or "5-a-day" fad? Wow, if you want to see some flaky science full of vague assumptions look at where these figures come from.

Basically, food is a zillion-dollar industry so any "science" behind it is systematically distorted and hyped until it is simply no longer recognisable as science. What was Phelp's diet again that produced one of the greatest ever Olympians? (http://www.bravotv.com/blogs/what-olympic-athletes-eat-and-drink-every-day-will-shock-you).

Me? I love food. I enjoy a decent mixed diet including fruit and veg (because I like them not because of any defined health benefit). I am vaguely aware of my calorie intake and am not obese.

'Tech troll' sues EFF to silence 'Stupid Patent of the Month' blog. Now the EFF sues back

Alan Hope

Re: Aussie Judges

There would be a counter-suit on behalf of all galahs.

(nb "Stupid galah" is a common phrase in the land of galahs)

Windows 10: What is it good for? Microsoft pitches to devs ahead of Creators Update

Alan Hope

Re: Pretty much nothing.

It boots up much more quickly.

Stick in the W10 desktop and it's effectively Win7.5

Barcodes stamped on breast implants and medical equipment

Alan Hope

Re: But how to know if someone has an implant?

We know all this anyway. Systems have been in place for years.

Strong non-backdoored encryption is vital – but the Feds should totally be able to crack it, say House committees

Alan Hope

Yes, I wondered about this type of encryption. Where every key used to decrypt produces a perfectly plausible decryption text, however just 1 of these keys produces the actual decrypted text. How would they find it hidden in a vast and almost infinite sea of plausible alternatives.

Too simple so I must be missing something.



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