* Posts by sebt

100 publicly visible posts • joined 21 Mar 2017


Sonos will deny updates to those who snub rewritten privacy terms

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Re: Meet Mr Three Point Five Millimetre

Bravo! Covers everything I wanted to say, and quite a few things I didn't even think of.

Cognitive Services, Clippy? AI's silent infiltration of Microsoft's Office stack


Re: SE

... and then some other Microsoft "MVP" marking the answer as awesome, correct and accepted. Probably by using a bulk script.

How are you feeling today? Don't tell us, save for it this handy emotion-detection code



Just no. Recognition of emotion is a human ability, based on the ability of the person recognising it to feel emotion themselves. It's not yet another fricking terra nullius for techers to try to annex, for no purpose except to sell ways of making money to people who already have money, or to impose a spurious, aggregated "reality" of general sentiment onto human beings.

I'd love to let this "AI" loose on some Nietzsche. Or Saki. Or Swift. See how it rates them on its reductive, one-dimensional scale.

US prosecutors demand data to unmask every visitor to anti-Trump protest website


IANALA, but...

might I advise Dreamhost to refer the US government to the reply given in the case of Arkell vs Pressdram?


... adding in "and the horse you rode in on too".

To truly stay anonymous online, make sure your writing is as dull as the dullest conference call you can imagine


Re: I see a market here

"Something that makes what you say so bland that it can't be identified as containing any information."

I think corporate PR-droids have just been automated out of their jobs.

I've found my tiny violin, but I keep losing the tiny bow.

Google tracks what you spend offline to prove its online ads work. And privacy folks are furious


Re: Personally....

"If marketeers believe this then they deserve to be taken to the cleaners by Google."

Don't know about you, but I've never met anyone in Marketing (or, as someone wonderfully called it, the "colouring-in with crayons" Department) who wasn't well back in the queue when brains were being handed out.

Google is stealing sweets off a baby here.

Slapping crap bosses just got cheaper: Blighty's Supreme Court nixes tribunal fees


Great and correct decision

Leaving only the question: how is this going to be spun as "ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE"?



Re: Why do I have a sinking feeling

I wouldn't be surprised if you turn out to be right. After all, our current pretend-PM is someone with a track record of seeing the justice system as just a speedbump on the road to Hell she's driving us down.

iRobot just banked a fat profit. And it knows how to make more: Sharing maps of your homes



“$COMPANY takes privacy and security of its customers very seriously."

This is becoming a familiar refrain. Along with the next sentence, which is always thought, rather than said:

"That's why we don't give your data to anyone unless they cough up serious money"

AI vans are real – but they'll make us suck at driving, warn boffins

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Re: Obvious study is obvious

Good point. I can't imagine any worse driving experience than having no control, but having some camera watching what I do and beeping annoyingly when I'm not "paying attention".

Even if I did obey the camera, and even if I was an excellent or perfect driver - how good would I (or anyone) be at suddenly assessing a situation and taking responsibility?

I wonder how many more epicycles will have to be added to the driverless-car project to make it look faintly desirable, viable or beneficial. As the first line in the article says, this is clearly a case of technology trying to drive society, rather than the other way round.

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Re: Complete or not at all...

"What is really needed is a paradigm shift to 100% driverless technology."

Why? To make driverless technology work? Aren't you begging the question posed right at the start of the article?

"Tech and automotive firms are pushing driverless car technology on society, rather than there being a big demand for it"

Virgin Trains dodges smack from ICO: CCTV pics of Corbyn were OK


The ICO's decision is probably right here.

However, nothing, not even a politician lying, can change the fact that Virgin, along with the rest of the bunch of spivs involved in the UK rail industry (and their lobbying outfit the "Rail Delivery Group", are nothing but monopolists making profits out of a politically-constructed, and insanely structured, privatised railway system.

Behind the scenes of Slovaks' fight to liberate their .sk domain

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Holier than thou

... is typical of free-market fundamentalism. Which, as you say, is as anti-realist a cult as communism.

"instead we get a flat "non-profit is bad, look people are doing it for political reasons" whilst singing the praises of how efficient the alternative is."

That special use of "political" is another typical move. Anything other than privatising everything that isn't nailed down, and a good deal of what is, is supposedly "political" in a bad sense. But privatising everything is somehow pure and above mere "politics".

Google blows $800k on bots to flood the UK with 30,000 'articles' a month



He told Press Gazette: “At a time when many media outlets are experiencing commercial pressures, RADAR will provide the news ecosystem with a cost-effective way to provide incisive local stories, enabling audiences to hold democratic bodies to account.

“Skilled human journalists will still be vital in the process, but RADAR allows us to harness artificial intelligence to scale up to a volume of local stories that would be impossible to provide manually.”


I'm no "skilled human journalist", but would this Fabulous bot-based system be able to rewrite this statement to tell what it actually means?


“At a time when many media outlets are experiencing commercial pressures because big money is not interested in real journalism which might upset the advertisers, RADAR will shamelessly bend over and spread'em to these "commercial pressures", and pollute the news ecosystem even more brainless spam than it contains already, (but here I put the word "local" in there because it's good PR), with a cost-effective way to provide a platform for more adverts, enabling democratic bodies to evade accountability because there's no-one with an enquiring mind in the loop to question their press releases.

“Skilled human journalists will be completely redundant to this process but I can't come out and say that because I'm a slimy PR-droid. RADAR allows us to harness artificial stupidity to scale up to a volume of spam that no-one will bother reading and no-one with a brain could ever be bothered to write”.


Sysadmin bloodied by icicle that overheated airport data centre


Re: Frozen winter shit.


I thought it was "There's no I in Team".

And the correct response to anyone who says that is "Sure, but there is a U in C**T".

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I had to do exactly the same thing once when I moved into a place in Glasgow in midwinter. Only it was the mains water supply (unlagged, of course!) which had frozen solid.

And all I had available was a hairdryer. And a long extension lead.

After hours of aiming the hairdryer at the pipe, there was a glugging and a shooshing and a rattling, and the water came back on.

Microsoft boasted it had rebuilt Skype 'from the ground up'. Instead, it should have buried it


Re: Reaching out

"Fucking "reached out". Fucking idiots."

Anyone uses this obnoxious phrase near me, gets hit with the "comment mallet" mentioned back on Page 1 of the comments.

I like asking people "If I don't know who to reach out to, does that mean I have to reach around?"

Do NOT Google "Reacharound". At least not at work. At least not images.

Emirates and Turkish Airlines lift laptop ban on US-bound flights


If the old bag lifted the UK ban, Rothermere and Murdoch's shit-sheets would be screaming "SOFT ON TERRORISM" like banshees before the announcement was even finished.

Why, Robot? Understanding AI ethics

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"A robot could be great if it improves the quality of life for an elderly person as a supplement for frequent visits and calls with family. Using the same robot as an excuse to neglect elderly relatives would be the inverse."

That's a good summing up of the difference between intent (which I'm using for something very human) and function (something a machine can have).

A human can use all kinds of tools/measures/strategies to neglect their elderly relatives - but can be taken to task for it. In other words, the human can think beyond the specified goal or function, and place it in a wider context. The fact that humans don't always think of ethical implications, or often ignore ethical criticism, is no counter-argument whatsoever. The important thing is that they should (whether they do in practice or not - it's an aspiration). The machine can only serve the function, and be judged on how it does this. Intent and meta-thinking is not relevant to it.

(As an aside, the ethical imperfection of humans is one of the most brazenly hollow and self-serving arguments coming out of Silicon Valley fanboys to justify replacing them with machines).

Using this intent/function distinction, a bigggg problem with AI becomes clear. AI, far from being neutral, always carries a hidden payload of intent in it: the intent of those who designed it, those who market it, those who make money from it and those who use it. It's not the machine's fault in any sense that it carries this payload, and it's no flaw from the machine's (fitness for function) point of view. But until we get true strong AI, AI will always carry this hidden intent.

This is very different with humans. Although parents are sometimes blamed when someone does something terrible, no-one would ever describe conception of a child as a design process, over which parents have control. Even upbringing (which has more of an influence) is very different from the design of a machine.

Blighty's Department for Culture, Media & Sport gets 'digital' rebrand



"and innovative financing to create an inclusive economy"

NOW I understand. I always thought that PFI was a way to splurge taxpayers' money on incompetent monopolists, guaranteeing them returns for decades while avoiding public scrutiny.

But I was wrong. It's "innovative financing to create an inclusive economy". And since it's in the remit of the Ministry of Fun, it must be fun as well.

I'm all in favour of it now.

NASA: Bring on the asteroid, so we can chuck a fridge at it


Re: How many points does NASA get for that?

There's a very silly (and enjoyable) free-download game called Pluto's Revenge, which involves exactly that. Pluto has a baseball bat and whacks asteroids at the other planets. Because it's miffed at being downgraded from true planet status.

Also has a deeply weird soundtrack.


Re: Velocity?

"A tractor on a country road on August Bank Holiday?"

Speed of a caravan on the A82?*


*In case you're not Scottish, this is the main road from Glasgow to the West Highlands. Almost single-track in places.

**Not just on August Bank Holiday, because a caravan on the A82 takes all summer to get from Dumbarton to Crianlarich.

In touching tribute to Samsung Note 7, fidget spinners burst in flames


Re: There's an opportunity here

"Think it'd sell?"

Only if it's connected to the Internet, and you can monitor it

! From AnyWhere In The World Through Your SmartPhone !

Dead serious: How to haunt people after you've gone... using your smartphone



Who call you saying "I've got my CV in front of you...", and then try to interest you in a D#/Z++/EbMinor/SumatraScript permanent position in Hartlepool.

When I know none of these technologies from nothing, and my CV clearly says I'm looking for contract positions in datawarehousing in the Southwest.



"SwonSong is not a pun nor is it an acronym, and its misspelling serves no marketing purpose whatsoever unless that purpose is to be fucking infantile."

There is a special place in Hell reserved for the twatmeisters who come up with these names.

They are useful in a way though, as a clear signal that whatever it is a bunch of interestingly behaired and bebearded dickwipes are trying to sell under them is guaranteed to be a piece of opportunistic crap of no use to anybody.

I'm just waiting for "apps" called Mynge, SmgMa and KrudFerrit to come along.

On the main subject: there's no need for [[[[[Swonsong]]]]] (brackets for the purposes of hygiene). Just read the comments boards on any UK newspaper, and it's clear that 98% of comments were written by dead people. Or brain-dead, at least.

Icon because I like Beer. No, not BiR. No, not BérR. ByR? ..... hold on, I'm just starting the ThysBotlOverYorHedVeryHard app, it's a bit slow to get going sometimes.

Spies do spying, part 97: The CIA has a tool to track targets via Wi-Fi



What, yet another downside of WiFi?

Meanwhile, the only worthwhile application of WiFi - Beer by Wifi - is still not rolled out. In spite of being on the Two-Tailed Dog Party's manifesto (in Hungary).

Icon - do you need to ask?

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has resigned, says report


Re: It's the precarity, stupid!

"Uber, Lyft, Taskrabbit, Sidecar, Homejoy, Handy, Spoonrocket, Postmates, Luxe, crud like Gigwalk, Deliveroo"

Even thinking up, let alone writing down, let alone uttering any one of those wankfest names should be a capital offence.

Queen's speech announces laws to protect personal data


Re: Ex-queen

"Er, no. It's a job for life."

There's a certain HRH who desperately hopes you're wrong. Come on Mum, do a Beatrix!

Mine's the one with the plant in the pocket - the plant who's a very good listener

Oxford profs tell Twitter, Facebook to take action against political bots

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Re: Don't worry

"I am the oracle (the shitty alternative to teletext)"

Well, Lord Buckethead promises to bring back Ceefax. He's got my vote!


Re: Political Bots.

"Can't have Ordinary People diluting Murdoch's power now, can we?"

If I had my Murdoch wouldn't have his power diluted - he'd be forcibly blasted into another universe, preferably one where you can't swing a cat because the dimensions are all crunched up.

But these bots aren't a solution to centralised media power. They're deployed by people exactly like Murdoch (if not by him himself), and trade on the illusion that they are in fact "Ordinary People".



"Didn't know The Daily Fail and The S*n were political bots."

They are, of course. The difference is that they don't pretend to be a mass of individual people all agreeing. At most they pretend to reflect the views of "most people", but the illusion that they actually do is pretty easily dispelled.

So perhaps political social-media bots are just too new. No-one's got used to discounting any on-line commenter's claim to be a real person, in the way that we've got used to discounting the idea that what's in the newspapers is the real truth and only the truth. That would mean that we've got to get used to social media being polluted. I'd rather we didn't have to, personally.

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Nope, the truth is not relative

Sorry, no, the facts (unlike the slant given to them) are not relative but absolute.

And a major part of the impact of these propaganda bots lies not in the (generally idiotic) views these bots "hold" and spread, but in the pretence that these are actual individual human beings holding (generally idiotic) opinions, rather than the offspring of a single person or organisation who wants to give the impression of popular support.

It's not a matter of pure disinformation. The target is not readers' knowledge, but their morale: if "everyone" is against them, why bother any more?

IBM's contractor crackdown continues: Survivors refusing pay cut have hours reduced


Re: The 'Hours Plan'

A long post, but worth the read. It's a vivid example of how much trouble a bunch of fuckwits with a spreadsheet can cause. Can we introduce some kind of licensing system, like for guns? Even if we have to prise the "metrics" out of the cold, dead hands of the fuckwits who invented them.

I remember when I used to spend my working day developing, testing and supporting clients. Rather than doing some weird kind of improvised contemporary dance routine through the hoops and labyrinths imposed by Process. Or Process Management. Or the Process Management Process.

You're all too skeptical of super-duper self-driving cars, apparently


What's the point?

... apart from to make money for big tech companies?

As an antidote to the whole ridiculous hype, look up the Dutch road-traffic engineer who made various places safer by making them _more_ difficult and complicated to drive through. The effect was to make drivers pay attention. (Or, look him up if you can remember his name, which I can't).

With driverless cars, what are we supposed to do instead of driving?

Inevitable answer: watch the @#$*&£" adverts which will be part of every driverless car "to help us provide a value-for-money service to our lovely customers".

The whole curent tech hype is directed at hijacking human attention, and monetising it. Time for a few digital clogs thrown into datacentre hard-drive enclosures.

Telegram chat app founder claims Feds offered backdoor bribe


Re: The Rain in Spain

The orographic lift induces a greater average precipitation in topographically-elevated zones of the Iberian Peninsula.

Now THAT's what I call encryption. Well, at least the neither Trumpolini (nor any members of our UK government) will be able to decrypt it.

Oh snap! Election's made Brexit uncertainty worse for biz, says BT CEO


Re: Stability, certainty? v2.0

"Even less difficult with my plan:..."

Oi! Who leaked Theresa May's new policy platform?

Pizza proffer punctures privacy protection, prompts pals' perfidy


Sounds like fascinating research

... which will be eagerly read by the arseholes who have taken over the Internet, turned upside down and used to slurp even more of our data.

A bit of Luddite smashing of datacentre hard-drives is what's needed.

We're not saying we're living in a simulation but someone's simulated the universe in a computer


Re: I dabbled with 3D rendering a few years back.

Except for squirrels, for some reason. They're rendered at about 5fps. No idea why. Must be a bug.

Donald Trumped: Comey says Prez is a liar – and admits he's a leaker


Lies, Plain and Simple

I was in Berlin on Friday trying to find a paper with coverage of the UK election.

Bought one with the headline "Luegen, schlicht und einfach", and thought I'd hit the jackpot. Turned out be an equally exciting, but different story. But Lies, Plain and Simple would work just as well as a description of May's campaign.

Google to give 6 months' warning for 2018 Chrome adblockalypse – report


Re: Right move, wrong person

It's not that revolutionary an idea. How are intrusive ads going to be discouraged, except by some kind of authority? The question is: which authority? Governmental authority (which means that the UK gov in particular need to start their learning curve by buying a few Internet for Dummies books), or Google's own authority, which is technically competent but beyond anyone's control?

I suppose making these tools available but optional is what you're hinting at. Trouble is, how much effect is that going to have on the scum who sling ads round the Internet? The whole Internet ads ecosystem is so (deliberately) fragmented that market pressures just won't work on it.


Right move, wrong person

"ad-blocker in a dominant browser could mean the world's dominant ad network could be filtering out rival ad networks, which has competition implications".

Discouraging intrusive advertising is a good idea. But it's the wrong agency doing it. It should be a governmental responsibility, not left up to Google. I know, I know... but not all governments are as clueless and clumsy as the UK one; nor should the likes of Ruddy Awful be taken as the template for all possible governments.

If Google developed tools for this, and then made money selling them to governments to apply them fairly and across the board, what would not be to like?

Beer because it's Friday.

Retirement age must move as life expectancy grows, says WEF


When they came for the rockclimbers...

Just a side note: rock-climbing (like paragliding) is statistically one of the safer sports. But as in paragliding, when you cross that line from "never injured" to "injured", you tend not to do much more of the sport - or of anything.

If any sportspeople should be penalised for increased healthcare costs (not that any should be), it should be a 5-a-side football players. They drop like flies from injuries.

Beer because there's nothing like a beer after a day's climbing.


It's insane

Every economic and ecological factor says we need to have less people around - i.e. have less children.

But the short-term problem of how to pay for the enormous number of old people pushes against that: to satisfy that need, we need to have _more_ children - or import young people. Who will, in turn, grow (very) old and need looking after.

I wish anyone in charge was engaged in any kind of long-term thinking.

Stingy DXC Tech tells staff to breathe in and tighten those belts


Saving money isn't the point

It's essentially about redirecting money. From people who actually do useful work, to box-tickers, bean-counters, form-drafters, policy-slingers and suits. If these parasites end up costing more than they save - no problem, there's always an excuse. Which generally results in MOOARR box-ticking, approval-begging, form-filling etc.

UK ministers to push anti-encryption laws after election


Can't say I'm surprised

Terrorist attack? Followed within days by idiotic government reaction, with the implication that if you just shut up and do what they say then they can prevent this ever happening again. As night follows day.

I'd call it a kneejerk reaction, if it was. What it in fact is is the habit of governments to use anything, whatever it might be, as an excuse to ram through more, unjustified increases in their power.

EU security think tank ENISA looks for IoT security, can't find any


Re: please...

Rule 4) Any functionality that depends on a central server, whose status is outside the purchaser's control, must be explicitly stated, and guaranteed (subject to financial penalties) for a specified period.

That would be a disincentive to the current "can't unlock my Smart Front Door because the vendor's server is down" idiocy.

IT firms guilty of blasting customers with soul-numbing canned music


Hello hackers?

This kind of enforced "entertainment" really needs subversion. As I don't have the skillz, all I can do is suggest alternative "corporate edutainment" recordings:

1. The 5-year-old next door playing (I mean... attempting to play) "Indian Wardance", or whatever pre-Grade 1 piece it is he's been stuck on for the last 6 months. ("is he going to get that bit right this time? ... is he...? Wait for ittttt.... No, of course he isn't....).

2. Sounds of fire alarms, people running about screaming, followed by an out-of-breath voice shouting "OMG THE CALL CENTRE'S ON FIRE!!!! HELP CALL THE FIRE BRIGADE! I'M BURNINNGGGGG...."

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Re: Ahhh lovely...

Got it in a nutshell.

For other people, it might be Vivaldi that drives them nuts (or drives them to take their business elsewhere).

It's the idea that you can please everyone - in an area like music where tastes differ so much - that drives me nuts. That you can supposedly "induce the same emotions" in anyone who calls, in a way that's entirely under your cynical, LCD, corporate control.

This is the idea that should be killed with fire, shot, killed with fire again, shot again, stamped on, dipped in quicklime, buried in a lonely forest glade wrapped in an old carpet, and then nuked from orbit.



"Hearing is one of our most powerful emotional senses so the sounds customers hear when they call a business will create a long-lasting impression," added Williamson. "Every element of a music track, whether tempo, pitch or instrumentation, will stir different emotions"

What if I don't want to have my "emotions stirred" by this twunt and his manipulative earhole-pollution? Being on hold is empty time. I don't want to be "entertained" by it, I just want to switch off or do something else until a clear signal tells me I'm talking to a real person. And the last thing I want is artificially-matey, always female voices telling me how important my call is to them, or suggesting I piss off to their website instead. Answer to which is: if your website had the information I needed, why would I be putting myself through having to listen to your babbling?

Whatever happened, by the way, to that really useful feature hold systems used to have, where a voice would tell you "You are now number N in the queue"? Probably ousted by intrusive corporate-comms shite courtesy of PHMG and their like.

If I want to have my emotions stirred, I'll go to a concert or put on music I choose.

Kill Google AMP before it kills the web


Re: How it works in the real world

What an excellent outline of how the Marvellous Future Internet-Enabled world really works.

Please translate this ------------------------------------->

into the alcoholic drink/substance/gratifying experience of your choice.