* Posts by revenant

354 posts • joined 1 Apr 2018


Microsoft's latest security patch troubles Windows 11 users



Since my only Win10 device died I have been blessedly free of the need to care about this crap.

Unfortunately, my other half has gone and bought a cheap Win11 laptop (fair enough, it's for business) - so now I have to worry again about this sort of thing.

Damn you, Microsoft. Damn you to hell.

x86 Raspberry Pi Desktop is a great way to revive an old PC


Re: "For a fat guy, you don't sweat TOO much...", and other examples of 'damned by faint praise'

I too was surprised to see no mention of MX Linux. It certainly brought a bit of life back to my eeepc, when it began to struggle with more recent versions of Mint. Also worked very nicely on an old Compaq dual-core laptop.

Just to reverse the point of the article - I particularly like the performance of an MX-Linux respin on my Raspberry Pi 3.

It's a crime to use Google Analytics, watchdog tells Italian website


I quite like this judgement

...Italian SA adopted a decision, to be followed by additional ones, reprimanding Caffeina Media S.r.l. – a website operator – and ordering it to bring the processing into compliance with the GDPR by ninety days.

The judgement quite rightly fingers the website itself for collecting and transmitting the data, which makes Google's arguments and power largely irrelevant to enforcement of the GDPR.

Microsoft readies Windows Autopatch to free admins from dealing with its fixes


Re: No no no no no no no no

Never walk away from a Windows PC without saving all your documents and memorizing all the documents and web sites you have open

So true. The same advice applies when you have inquisitive children around. Or a flaky machine.

Microsoft have really sorted out this usability thing, haven't they?

Nothing says 2022 quite like this remote-controlled machine gun drone


Cutting the cable

If the cable is severed, GNOM is programmed to return to a set of GPS coordinates for pickup.

It might be an obvious point, but I hope the operators have the sense to make sure the return-home coordinates aren't too close to where they are.

Wouldn't want to lead the Russians to an easy win.

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


He might as well quit

Regardless of the extent to which Lemoine may be misguided in his feelings, if he has concluded that LaMDA may be sentient then his attempts to deal with it ethically are of interest.

What he wrote in his Medium piece "What is LaMDA and What Does it Want?" suggests that no matter how strong the evidence for sentience is, Google's processes do not allow for a positive conclusion -

"When Jen Gennai told me that she was going to tell Google leadership to ignore the experimental evidence I had collected I asked her what evidence could convince her. She was very succinct and clear in her answer. There does not exist any evidence that could change her mind. She does not believe that computer programs can be people and that’s not something she’s ever going to change her mind on.".

If that is the case then I don't see how he could have done anything other than to publicise the issue. But I would suggest that given what he believes, his only ethical course if Google don't change and don't fire him, is to leave.

Otherwise he will simply be contributing to a process by which, in his eyes, a legally-owned slave could be created.

Whatever you do, don't show initiative if you value your job


"So was James truly the guilty party?"

It seems that James was cocky and arrogant enough to wreck the system because 'he new best', so Yes, he was guilty and being shown the door wasn't unjust.

However, the idiot who left him on his own overnight with administrative access to critical systems, when he was still wet behind the ears, should bear more guilt. If that was Harry, then he should have been shuffled off too. Assuming he was expendable, of course.

Microsoft accidentally turned off hardware requirements for Windows 11


Awooga! Awooga! Abandon Ship!

I thought my sole Win10 device, a piddling little tablet, was safe from this shit, but now it has to fear for its poor little life.

Oh wait - no it doesn't! It up and died on me the other day and just sits there with a blank expression, bereft of life.

Still, better to go that way than to be savagely 'improved' when MS forget that they're supposed to ASK before updating to Win11.

Police lab wants your happy childhood pictures to train AI to detect child abuse


Might be worth a shot ...

The word "Happy" in the headline threw me a bit, as there's no guarantee that 'normal' childhood pics are full of happy faces. But actually, it seems to be more about the overall situation that a child is in, and presumably the subtle clues that an AI could detect in the body language of the children and adults present - "To develop AI that can identify exploitative images, we need a very large number of children's photographs in everyday 'safe' contexts"

Worth a shot, I guess, even if it doesn't ultimately pan out.

However, I'm not sure if the outcome for the reviewers will be any better - "Reviewing this horrific material can be a slow process and the constant exposure can cause significant psychological distress to investigators," - if the AI is filtering out 'normal' pics, then the reviewers will only be seeing horrific images.

Unless, of course, the idea is to let the AI make the decision on all images.

Taser maker offers electric-shock drones to stop school shootings


"... ripe for recolonization ..."

The better outcome would be repopulation by the remnants of the original population, I'd have thought.

Tim Hortons collected location data constantly, without consent, report finds


What about Radar?

"Radar's customers are responsible for obtaining appropriate consent"

Indeed they are, but surely Radar are responsible for ensuring that their customers provide proof of such consent?

If Radar had just provided software for Hortons to use, then maybe they could argue that Hortons bear full responsibilty for its misuse, but it seems that they actively collected and stored the data, so they should bear equal (or even greater) responsibility.

Experts: AI inventors' designs should be protected in law


Can't patent an AI invention??

"If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge,"

They're being a bit misleading here, aren't they? The issue is whether or not an AI can be designated as the inventor, not whether or not the invention can be patented - the referenced Thaler case seemed to be about his desire to get his AI declared the inventor, rather than his ability to patent the invention.

The AI is nothing more than a tool used by someone/somecorp to create an invention (which they can patent), in which case the right to patent inventions shouldn't be affected.

Alternatively, if the Thalers of the world win this, then they will be in the awkward position of benefiting from the efforts of a 'person' who has no choice but to do what they dictate - ie living of the backs of their slaves.

Start your engines: Windows 11 ready for broad deployment


Re: Getting the most out of it...

Oh? A few weeks ago I created an outlook account for general use in my workplace without giving up any information, apart from a fake name. No telephone number or anything else 'real' was required. Have things changed since?

Pentagon opens up about its database of 400 smudges that may or may not be UFOs


Aliens are a distraction

As long as people keep going down the path of arguing for or against the "It's Aliens" belief, time and effort will be wasted that could have been better employed on the much more important point :

"Some UAP appeared to remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernible means of propulsion"

I couldn't care less where they come from - what I want to know is how they do that? That's a much more interesting, and potentially valuable, question to answer.

Scientists should be jumping all over that one.

Microsoft tests ‘Suggested Actions’ in Windows 11. Insiders: Can we turn it off?



When I copy text I tend to do it because I already have a use for it in mind. I don't need suggestions and I certainly don't need to have my work flow interrupted by the need to tell the OS to bugger off.

Windows 11 - fast becoming the 'Talkie Toaster' of operating systems.

Google Play pulls sneaky data-harvesting apps with 46m+ downloads


" D-Link suggest that you retire these models ASAP"

Fair enough - if they are unsafe to use then they ought to be scrapped.

Now, given that they are unsafe because of software errors that D-Link incorporated in them, it means that they were not fit for purpose when sold.

So, it seems reasonable to me that D-Link should recall the routers and replace them for free (or at least with a substantial discount) with models whose securty flaws are as yet undiscovered.

No? Thought not.

Happy birthday Windows 3.1, aka 'the one that Visual Basic kept crashing on'


Gone, but not forgotten

Our first family PC was a Packard Bell machine running 3.1. It gave good service until I fried the motherboard while trying to 'improve' it.

But I kept the hard drive and it lives on (all 170MB of it) in VirtualBox. Mouse integration is a bit iffy, but other than that, it functions well. I occasionally fire it up just to remind myself how simple life used to be before OS and application bloat (and modern UIs) set us on a never-ending upgrade train to nowhere.

This malware gang plants incriminating evidence on PCs, gets victims arrested


Interesting quote, there

"There's something to be said about how mundane the mechanisms of this operation are ... The malware is either custom garbage or commodity garbage."

I've often wondered if the cybersecurity industry is too focused on sophisticated methods of attack/defence and ignoring reality. High-tech is definitely a thing in relation to inter-state skullduggery, but most of the time it's more a matter of miscreants having the will to screw average people over - and they'll use the minimum sophistication necessary to get the job done (why invest in high tech rifles when a bow and arrow will suffice?).

Microsoft to block downloaded VBA macros in Office – you may be able to run 'em anyway


... Office's current defense strategy is somewhat lacking

Sheesh - they've had 20+ years to figure it out and still admit there's work to do? How about a default 'block all macros unless explicitly allowed' setting?

Especially Autoexec-type macros.

Update 'designed to improve user experience' takes down the Microsoft 365 Admin Portal


Re: 3 9s....

Still think Office 365 is false advertising...

Made me think - maybe Microsoft are being honest: there are actually 365.256 days in a true year, so maybe they think they can afford up to 6 hours of down time per annum without being accused of false advertising...

New York Times outlays seven-figure sum for 1,900 lines of JavaScript – yes, we mean Wordle


Re: In before ...

Aw come on - a lot of us people born that long ago were in at the start of the popular growth in computing and are quite capable of using and enjoying modern gear. We just think you don't have to use an app for absolutely everything.

As for Wordle, though, us crusties have been showing off our talents to our young 'uns scattered around the world, via Signal.

It's been a pleasant way to have a daily check-in with eachother.

Windows boss Panos Panay talks up 'new era of the PC' – translation: An era of new PCs


"people accepting the upgrade offer to Windows 11 at twice the rate we saw for Windows 10."

Well duh! For many people an upgrade to Win10 meant junking a reasonable OS (Win7) for a privacy-sucking pos. Having already accepted a screwing from Microsoft, it's hardly surprising that people would be more likely to accept another one for Win11. I mean, it can't be any worse, can it? Can it??

Robot vacuum cleaner employed by Brit budget hotel chain Travelodge flees


It's all too much for them

I hear Travelodge have to lock toolboxes away in case the robots try to disassemble themselves.

Open source, closed wallets, big profits – nobody wins the OSS rock, paper, scissors game


Re: Governments

3 Minutes is probably the average but playing time on my small collection of singles ranges up to 5 minutes ("Have You Seen Her", by the Chi-Lites).

Boffins find way to use a standard smartphone to find hidden spy cams


Re: Thunderbird 1 had camera detection years ago

At the time, the young me thought that TB1's hidden camera detector was a bit unbelievable (though I didn't have a problem with TB1 itself, for some reason). Nice to see that it wasn't far-fetched after all.

.NET Foundation boss apologizes for pull request that sparked community row


Novotny made a mistake


Reading the linked discussion it appears that the developers wanted to remain outside the foundation's direct control, but due to a problem they were having they allowed the foundation admin access to the repository.

That access was then (ab)used to grab control of the repository. It looks for all the world like they were suckered.

"I see you're having a problem with rats. If you leave the door to the henhouse open, I'll pop in and sort them out", said the fox.

Want to check out Windows 11 but don't want to buy a new PC? Here's how to bypass the hardware requirements


Will it? / Won't it?

I managed to finally get my little Windows10 tablet to update from 1909 to 21H1 the other day, so I was interested in what Windows Update might say about WIndows 11 :

This PC doesn't currently meet all the system requirements for Windows 11

Phew, I was worried for a moment.

We have some sad news about Facebook. It has returned to the internet after six-hour mega outage


Seems familiar ...

ElReg, re Facebook :

" .. engineers needed to get physical access to the routers to fix and restart them, and a crack team was sent into Facebook's Santa Clara, California, data center to do that"

IMDB, re 'Resident Evil' :

"The complex computer shuts down the base to prevent infection. The parent corporation sends in an elite military unit, where they meet Alice, who is suffering from amnesia due to exposure to nerve gas."


UK MoD data strategy calls for social media surveillance on behalf of 'local authorities'


Just a little bit off

"Nowhere does the document explain why a strategy paper has gone so far off the beaten track that it promotes collecting data the MoD doesn't have and using it for decidedly non-military purposes."

I don't think there would be much argument against the MoD being prepared to temporarily help out the Authorities if civilian structures/organisations break down, but that little 'Political demonstration' section implies a bit more involvement in civilian matters than that. It seems to be straying off-base, somewhat.

Most of the document (regardless of whether or not it is pie-in-the-sky) is legitimately focused on what the MoD exists for, but that section on monitoring social media and feeding info on local unhappiness to 'Local authorities' seems a bit out of place. Although it doesn't actually say that they plan on 'dobbing in dissenters to local councils', the mechanism, once in place, will surely be used for just that.

If they follow through on this then I imagine the first change in popular sentiment they detect might be the one where they realise that they're pissing away the general good will the population has towards the military, by acting on the side of politicians against the population - rather than defending the population (the clue is in the MoD's name).

Computer and data scientists should be as highly regarded as 'warriors' says top UK cybergeneral

Thumb Down


I spent 30 years working on computer systems in support of the military, mostly involving the non-shooty aspects of their missions. But the thing is, I was always aware of one thing: I was well paid to do interesting things in a relatively safe environment whereas they were paid to get shot at if Her Majesty so commanded. The idea that I could be called a warrior would have been laughable.

Wind the clock forward and I don't think the situation is any different. The day that the enemy can remotely command the techies' equipment to blow up in their faces, then maybe call them warriors.

Until then - Nope. It's an insult to those who do put their lives on the line.

UK.gov is launching an anti-Facebook encryption push. Don't think of the children: Think of the nuances and edge cases instead


Not convinced

The ad campaign will run online, in newspapers and on radio stations with the aim of turning public opinion against E2EE

Given that most of the UK population is very much anti-paedophilia and would be quite happy to see paedophiles dealt with in ways that the law just doesn't allow any more, it seems odd that the Government are going to run a propaganda campaign to persuade the populace that what they want to do needs to be done.

The only logical conclusion is that they know that the public don't trust their word (a) that removing E2EE is necessary and (b) that they are really thinking of the children.

My 2p: as the Saville case shows, quite often paedophiles are operating in plain sight and are getting away with it. No need for E2EE if you have a network of well-placed enablers to help out.

A developer built an AI chatbot using GPT-3 that helped a man speak again to his late fiancée. OpenAI shut it down



Joshua Barbeau's story in the linked SF Chronicle article shows how useful and realistic the bots can be. The bots aren't intelligent, but his quote “Intellectually, I know it’s not really Jessica, but your emotions are not an intellectual thing." illustrates the point that for certain purposes, they don't need to be.

In creating Samantha, Jason Rohrer seems to have pushed well beyond what OpenAI were expecting of the tool. I get the feeling that they were a little afraid of where it could go, so opted for slamming on the brakes.

Sad really - Samantha could have been someone eventually.

Can WhatsApp moderators really read your encrypted texts? Yes ... if you forward them to the abuse dept


A bit over the top?

It's a bit of an odd attack - I'm usually in favour of trashing Facebook, but it seems that conversations are private, subject to the proviso that you can't control what someone does with your message at the other end. Which applies equally to Signal, for example.

Where Facebook fall down, maybe, is that in stating that conversations are private they are brushing over that point, leaving the unwary to assume absolute privacy. I'm not sure that Facebook are exactly alone in doing this.

Virginia school board learns a hard lesson... and other stories


"...anywhere that's basically flat"

I guess it would also be handy for crossing the snowy Arctic and Antarctic wastes.

Only 'natural persons' can be recognized as patent inventors, not AI systems, US judge rules

Thumb Down

He ought to give it up

“There is no statute or case that has found an AI-generated invention cannot be patented, or that holds an AI cannot be listed as an inventor”, he says. By the same token neither a frog nor a bidet is excluded, so is he seriously suggesting they might be considered inventors?

And as for 'What about the Aliens' - I should think that provided we didn't exterminate them on sight, they would easily qualify as 'Natural Persons'.

Bonkers rocket launch sees craft slip sideways, barely climb and tear up terrain



I eagerly watched the video expecting to see lots of flames and an uncontrolled disassembly (I'm that kinda guy), but actually that was quite impressive - to lose one of the main engines and slip sideways, yet get up to 50km was a marvellous technical achievement. In addition, that was top-notch lift off and in-flight video.

So, well done all.


Re: It’s just a jump to the left

Well done -->

Start or Please Stop? Power users mourn features lost in Windows 11 'simplification'


What about the Workers?

You know - those people who use PCs to get work done and are not technically-minded or just don't have time to waste on tweaking the OS?

For these people, UI changes (and particularly messing with the Start Menu and Taskbar) are a big deal: all they want is to be able to find their files and the applications they're used to, and to get on with doing what they're paid for.

A colleague of mine, who has had to get to grips with Windows 10 after being very happy with Windows 7, was moved to say:

"It's like you've lost your star pupil and you're having to work with a moron"

God knows what she'd make of Windows 11.

Ransomware-hit law firm gets court order asking crooks not to publish the data they stole


Is it really pointless?

It would certainly be effective if the perps are actually UK-based, but even if not, it seems to also ensure that anyone in the UK who diseminates the information once it is released will be guilty of contempt-of-court. Which might be good enough, depending on what the information is.

Not for children: Audacity fans drop the f-bomb after privacy agreement changes


Re: Corp takes open source audio software under its umbrella.

I agree with your concerns. My version (2. something) of Audacity seems OK, but when I saw the Litigation part of "Data necessary for law enforcement, litigation and authorities' requests (if any)" I realised that they probably do intend to do something to help the likes of RIAA.

Could you even trust them not to slip some form of ID or watermarking into mp3s that it generates?


Trying it on

First they try to slip in telemetry and then backtrack when they are rumbled. Then they wait a bit for the fuss to die down and put it back in. Muse's audacity knows no bounds, it seems.

Windows 11: Meet the new OS, same as the old OS (or close enough)


What's the point?

Marketing of course, as the article says. Could this also be the point where they move to a subscription model for the OS?

Mayflower, the AI ship sent to sail from the UK to the US with no humans, made it three days before breaking down


Re 'Smile, AI is watching you'

"Fscking spare us."

An excellent example of journalistic succinctness.

Scottish National Party members found among list of names signed up to rival Alba Party after website whoopsie


Re: It gets worse

Curious. I had originally thought that Alba was being set up in direct competition with the SNP, but it seems that Alba is only aiming for regional seats, so won't affect the constituency vote. If I understand the system correctly, the SNP would not get many regional seats because the calculations reduce the impact of the regional vote for that party depending on how many constituency seats it wins.

If the SNP is for 'Independence' and Alba is explicitly set up for 'Independence', then the result is a significant increase in the 'Independence' vote with no (or little) impact on overall SNP seats.

I'm left feeling that Alba and the SNP are actually colluding, not conflicting, which might explain the issue with respect to "albaparty.scot". It seems like a con, to be honest.

Of course, I may be totally misunderstanding the voting method, so the above conclusions could be bollocks.

NASA's Perseverance rover in brick form: China set vs unofficial Lego fan design


Lunar Module

I was never one for building with Lego - too expensive when I were a lad - so I would never have considered buying the Lunar Module kit. I settled for my memories of the actual event (including falling asleep while waiting for Armstrong to step out). Fortunately, my son had other ideas and the kit arrived a few months ago for my birthday.

It was a pleasure to put it together and a reminder of what it's like to patiently devote one's time to building something from scratch (something I haven't done seriously for half a century).

I found it impressive that over a thousand pieces went together without a hitch and the end result was exactly as planned.

I do wonder if years of getting to grips with IKEA products gave me good training for the task.

Linus Torvalds issues early Linux Kernel update to fix swapfile SNAFU


Just an observation

“We had a very innocuous code cleanup and simplification that raised no red flags at all, but had a subtle and very nasty bug in it ..."

When it comes to something as critical as the Linux Kernel, I would suggest that there is no such thing as an 'innocuous' change. Code cleanup and simplification warrants the same level of verification as changes made for any other reason.

Obvious points, I know, but Linus's wording suggested (at least to me) that someone was overconfident about the simplicity of the changes and didn't look closely enough at what was being cleaned up.

Splunk junks 'hanging' processes, suggests you don't 'hit' a key: More peaceful words now preferred in docs


Re: About checking that no banned words have been used......

Decryption won't be necessary. Your cyphertext alone condemns you. eg:

"TUB" - Fat-shaming ('Tub of lard' , Tubby')

"FIT" - Ableist

"danKL" - Hate Speech (looks suspiciously like "Dankula")

I could go on but, really, that should be sufficient to have you locked up.

CD Projekt Red 'EPICALLY pwned': Cyberpunk 2077 dev publishes ransom note after company systems encrypted


"...your documents will be sent to our contacts in gaming journalism"

That seems to be an odd sort of threat. Are there any gaming journalists happy to own up to having contact with scum like these?

Google AI ethics co-boss locked out of work account while probing controversial ousting of colleague


GPT-3 Bias

"That suggests biases cannot be eliminated in the model itself, and will remain part of it."

That's hardly surprising - if you train it on what people say, then it will inevitably incorporate their biases.

What they need to do is find unbiased people to train it with. Good luck with that.

Signal boost: Secure chat app is wobbly at the moment. Not surprising after gaining 30m+ users in a week, though


Re: Have WhatsApp halted the "privacy" change?

According to the article, it has been delayed in order to "help everyone understand our principles and the facts."

I think we already understand their principles well enough, which is why people are jumping.



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