* Posts by Nematode

129 publicly visible posts • joined 15 May 2018


Post Office slapped down for late disclosure of documents in Horizon scandal inquiry


Re: Travesty

Yep, this is the UK for you. And if you realise just how difficult it has been to get answers out of the Post Office on something so blatant, what chance do we have of getting the reality revealed on the outcomes of under-tested experimental gene therapies we had forced on us?


Has nobody asked to see the bug list? Seems to me such a basic step to have taken very early on.

Microsoft unbundling Teams is to appease regulators, not give customers a better deal


Re: total frustration with teams

Why? What's so innately difficult about a video calling app that you need a manual? The only time I've ever got Teams to work is when it's someone else's account amd they send me a link. I have never yet been able to even get into it due to failing in a doom loop of trying to login in.


Does 365 stop working every 4 years on Feb 29th? Always wondered


"OK, I'll send you a Teams link"

"Nah, don't bother, I'd rather pull my own fingernails out. Hope the meeting goes well."

Fujitsu set to be preferred bidder in UK digital ID scheme


There is no such thing as government any more, just big biz shills. Thank God I'm of an age where before too long none of this cr@p will affect me, unless of course Fujitsu get their hands on AI control of crematoria. I pity my kids and wish we'd never had them, and their kids.

Job interview descended into sweary shouting match, candidate got the gig anyway


My first contract gig started with a weird interview. A first interview for a manager's job some time before went badly through no fault of mine (I much later found I was to be a replacement for the incumbent manager but he'd found out and sabotaged the position).

Anyway, 2nd go, (I'd actually been made redundant due to the oil price crash in 1986) via an agency. Went to the interview and they asked me to review a system design drawing. Starting tentatively, I spotted a couple of minor things, then a bigger one, then suddenly got that funny feeling you get when you know that what you're looking at is a pile of. So, as diplomatically as I could, phrasing my critique as questions such as "why is this like this...?", I proceeded to basically tear the whole thing apart. Left the interview thinking, do I want to be involved with that? But then I needed the dosh for wife+kids+mortgage+food. Next day, agency rang, told me I'd got the gig and I went straight in to sign the contract.

Arrived a couple of days later. The guy who interviewed me told me they'd hired me but were worried. Apparently the drawing I had torn apart in the interview was the one drawing they *had* subjected to formal internal review. And yes, it did pretty much go downhill from there till the company closed 3 months later.

City council megaproject to spend millions for manual work Oracle system was meant to do


Should've just asked ChatGPT to code it all up. Sorted.

BOFH: In the event of a conference, the ninja clause always applies



Mozilla CEO quits, pushes pivot to data privacy champion... but what about Firefox?


Re: Firefox just does not work on some web sites.

I only very rarely have a problem with a site not working on FF. It can be because I monitor and control my updates tightly and some banks, for example, like a super-up-to-date browser. I'll update at that point. Sometimes I have to turn a privacy add-on off for a minute, though that's usually an indicator to dump that site. Some sites don't work because they are utter boxes of ordure, over-complicated and poorly structured. I usually just don't bother with those. I *might* try Chrome on them if I really need to.

As far as I'm concerned, the whole idea that FF has to compete with Chrome and Edge is meaningless. Why should it? What's so marvellous about large numbers? An awful lot of people read the red-top 'news'papers, but does that make them quality? There's always space for a minority product which has its own attractions and following, and journos need to get off the simple logic of more-is-better just to fill column inches. It's a reason why I'm not an iPerson, Apples apps are generally functional but frankly mostly third rate and their famed "intuitive" interface is now anything but. Doesn't stop them being big sellers.


AI is changing search, for better or for worse


Agree. Just a glorified Clippy, but 10 times more annoying.


"AI hasn't helped Bing take market share from Google Search."

Unsurprising, as that would require people to be using Bing.

Survey: Over half of undergrads in UK are using AI in university assignments


Re: "The Ethical Dilemma: Lawyers, AI, and Legal Research"

Same problem with medicine. I have asked ChatGPT for citations for what it's just told me. On checking tbose with, say, PubMed, they mostly don't exist or are themselves a melange of citations (typical AI trick). Not long before it starts apologizing. Just like a politician.


It seems Australia is doing much the same as this https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/jan/23/chatgpt-in-australian-schools-what-you-need-to-know-law-changes


It seems to me that educators, from secondary school level up to Uni level, are missing the obvious opportunity to both defang AI as a means of supplying "cheat" answers or content in their assignments, but also to educate about the strengths and weaknesses of AI.

To me it's obvious to *require* students to use AI. Set the question/assignment. Require that students ask one or preferably more LLMs the question, or ask the LLMs to provide the assignment output texts. Then allow say 5 follow-up questions/refinements. Then require the students to copy and paste the entire trail of input/output into their academic submission. Then, require them to provide a critique of the exchanges they have created and come up with their own conclusion/final text, in their own words. This will sort the wheat from the chaff and indicate the students' true abilities. It is also exactly what everyone should be doing in real life to use and verify what AI says. I've always used this method when I use AI and it's remarkable how soon the LLMs start apologising for giving wrong answers and nonexistent citations.

We put salt in our tea so you don't have to



Good tea is also required. (More important than whether in bags or not, but yes, most British tea in bags is rubbish. I don't know how anyone can drink that stuff) Sainsbury's Assam is my personal favourite.

Those moaning about how this method doesn't get the tea/bag hot enough. Rubbish, just pop your finger in afterwards to check. And anyway it's the end result that matters.


Btw, the Scots know darn well that a wee bitty salt improves porridge. Just sayin'


I won't repeat the many good posts above about how tea should properly be brewed (in a teapot etc). But a few points:

1. You can always tell a good café when they bring you a jug of boiling water at the same time as serving you the pot+cups etc.

2. You *can* make a good cup of tea in a mug or cup. I'd tell you my secret method but then I'd need to kill you. Oh, ok, then. The proof of this particular pudding is in the compliments I would get at work when it was my turn to make the teas. The key is in realising (i) an ordinary tea bag has far too much tea in it for one cup, so don't overbrew it and then try to tame the result with milk, and (ii) putting milk into hot water shocks it (denatured is the technical term), you need to do it the other way round: take the edge off the boiling water by mixing it into a coldish cup and the right amount of milk. So, boil water, put milk in the cups for those who have it white, tea bag in (each cup if >1), and only then pour the water, slowish, one cup at a time, stirring as you go until the right colour is reached, then get the tea bag out pronto. Then do the next cup, same way... Try it, you'll be surprised.

3. When someone asks "can I ask a silly question?" tell them "Of course you can, the only truly silly question is: 'would you like a cup of tea?' "

Mozilla's midlife crisis has taken it from web pioneer to Google's weird neighbor


Re: And for the love of all things holy

Open a web page in Opera on a mobile. You can spread your fingers to zoom in (not unusual) but then watch the text reflow to the new margins. Zoom and read with bigger text! WHo would have thought that!


Won't find me using Google Chrome except the odd site which demands it (such as some NHS videoconf sites). Even then I usually try FF first and more often than not it works. I can do without the Chrome-only functions in for example Google Docs, again FF works fine. I don't trust Chrome's more than likely user surveillance. I do get fed up having to fiddle with about:config or userchrome on updates, to return features which were the reason I chose FF for in the first place. FF on Android is pretty poor, though. At least it loads certain extensions you have on your desktop FF. Totally agree Mozilla need to focus on power users.

What if Microsoft had given us Windows XP 2024?


Tellytubbies edition here. Just needs TinkyWinky etc on the hill

Police ignored the laws of datacenter climate control


How about "the shop floor" - the factory space where a major control systems company (now defunct) used to build, configure, test and FAT test systems. It was fine in winter, spring and autumn. However, when summer arrived, its flat roof, designed to hold a cooling pond of water across its whole width but which had been drained of water some years ago (presumably cos it leaked), duly obeyed the laws of physics, notably those of radiation, and caused the building below to warm up. By warm, I don't mean 25 or 30°C. Or even 35°C. No, a cool 40°C was a fairly usual temperature. However, it would make 45 or even 48°C for short periods. Unsurprisingly, for quite a lot of the kit this was a heat soak test too far, and some bits of kit would start falling over. I was surprised that more didn't break than actually did.

Switch to hit the fan as BT begins prep ahead of analog phone sunset


Re: What do other countries do?

Thanks. So, if the power goes off, how do you personally make a call?


We've called our electricity supplier multiple times over the years using our landline to tell them that our power has gone down, so it works for us!


What do other countries do?

I heard that other countries, e.g. Norway? have already gone over to all-VOIP or mobile. How do they do this? What have *their* regulators insisted their telcos/ISPs do?


Agree. Rural Aberdeenshire here, cr@ppy mobile signal anyway, so we use Wifi calling in our mobiles, which 50% of the time is so poor* that we tend to use the landline for important calls (such as hanging on in a queuing system, or speaking to the doctor, where the call dropping would be a real bind). Before landlines are pulled, there should be a standard set for minimum backup and standby capabilities. It's not hard to define what's needed, just that those who think up these wonderful 'advances' are usually based in a city or town and have no concept of what happens out in the sticks.

(*It's sometimes perfect, so our phones are not the problem, which we usually switch to airplane plus wifi-on to prevent hunting between the two. I am convinced it's the mobile operator porting the wifi call out from the broadband stream onto the phone network.)

UK flights disrupted by 'technical issue' with air traffic computer system


Re: NATS now blaming a bad flight plan

I'm fascinated to know what caused the data validation to fail (the PPRuNe thread discusses that validation DOES/DID exist, so it won't be something obvious).

Douglas Adams was right: Telephone sanitizers are terrible human beings


Metaphorical crossed wires, but...

The section I worked in in nineteen seventy blurk had to move office. This was well planned with instructions to box up our gear on Friday and go to the new office Monday morning. One guy (read, old codger) was there on Friday and duly boxed his stuff up but told us to leave it boxed on the Monday as he'd be out commissioning for a week or two. When he eventually got back, he unboxed his stuff but then spent several hours clucking away, muttering to himself, looking and re-looking in emptied boxes. Something was obviously missing. We asked if we could help, and what was he looking for and where had it been? He was looking for all his pens pencils, stapler, all the guff you put in your top drawer in the 70's. He swore he'd boxed it up and labelled it with his name. Turns out yes, he had, but not in a box as there were none left. So he'd put his entire top desk drawers in his waste paper bin. Clearly, that evening's cleaner had done the usual with a full bin. Oh how we laughed.

Twitter ad revenue has halved since Elon Musk took over


Re: As someone who does not and will not ever have either a twatter or a zuck imitation account

"Twitter is now basically crippled unless you are signed in."

Is that why an embedded window of a Twitter feed now says

"Nothing to see here - yet

When they Tweet, their Tweets will show up here"

even though it's a real live feed with actual content and had been working for the last 2 years?

I CBA'd to try and fix it as I'm sloping shoulders on that site.

UK government faces calls to end IR35 double tax anomaly


Sooooo glad I retired in 2016. 17 years of (successfully) fighting IR35 was quite enough. But if you think IR35 is bad, try being an Accidental American in the age of FATCA, which I tripped over in 2018 at the age of 64. Fought that one and won, too.

Nil Illegitimi Carborundum, folks

Smartphone recovery that's always around the corner is around the corner


Samsung A20e's both me and SWMBO, basic min PAYG now £8/mth (was £6) incl unlimited calls/texts and 4GB data (8?), Wificalling, cost £100 ea new less £30 back deal from Samsung. Prob 3 to 4 years old. Pretty cruddy cameras but does everything else we need. We are phone companies' nightmare.

Microsoft can't stop injecting Copilot AI into every corner of its app empire


Re: AI or The Revenge of Clippy

My first thought entirely. Clearly the sprogs in charge of developing these "tools" are themselves tools who are too young to remember the 'helpful' paperclip.

My concern is, you won't be able to turn it off like you could Clippy.

Here's how the data we feed AI determines the results


Re: Synopsis and Analysis

It still gets wrong the trick trick question:

"What weighs more, a pound of feathers or two pounds of lead".

Or at least it did when I checked this about a month ago.

Wrong time to weaken encryption, UK IT chartered institute tells government


"...can you can offer another solution?"

Why only down votes? Even with my rudimentary understanding of encryption, governments, bad actors, etc., I can see (as most posters here would seem to agree) that any such legislation will be either or both of totally unworkable or have grossly unintended consequences.

So, instead of everyone proving how clever they are since they're professionals who Really Understand These Things by explaining that it won't work, then prove how clever you are by suggesting workable solutions.

(Ducks brickbats)

ChatGPT creates mostly insecure code, but won't tell you unless you ask


80/20 rule?

The old 80/20 rule: 20% of the code is getting the thing to do what you want it to, 80% is for preventing it from doing what it shouldn't. AI can't even do the 20% bit right.

Musicians threaten to make Oasis 'Live Forever' with AI


Musicians we'd like to continue hearing after their death?

Well, for starters, (and arrange in your preferred order), there's

- Janis Joplin

- Duane Allman

- Jimi Hendrix

- Franco Luambo Makiadi

- Bob Marley

- Eva Cassidy

- Lucky Dube

- Stuart Adamson

- I could go on....

though of course whether AI could ever capture the genuine brilliance of these people...?

It's time to reveal all recommendation algorithms – by law if necessary


Er, shurely as you have prevented a lot of data collection, all that's left are random recommendations. Sounds to me like yoy've done a good job. Unless you are in fact a spotty teenager, when ut us more sinister!

Automation is great. Until it breaks and nobody gets paid


Re: This is why we need code review

At an old place of mine, doing real-time control systems, comms interface Vaxes, PLCs and few other goodies, we used to have a rule: "the software isn't finished until [regomised name - the boss] says it is." He had a knack of rocking up at a shop test, doing one or two things and immediately breaking it (when of course it shoudl not have broken)

We read OpenAI's risk study. GPT-4 is not toxic ... if you add enough bleach


Ensuring a program doesn't do what it shouldn't.

Stripping away the hype, Chat GPT and other AU (Artificial Unintelligence) machines are basically GBFO computer programs. Now, I forget what the proportion is/was but from my olden days ISTR a statement that 80% of a program's code was to ensure it didn't do what it shouldn't, and only 20% on producing the sought-after output.

Now, clearly, the larger and more complex a program and its input data, and with output quantity essentially unlimited (i.e. whatever can be expressed in language = pretty much everything), that 80/20 rule has to be grossly inadequate. I would say the thing needs nigh on 99.9xxx% of its code to check that what it IS saying is accurate, balanced, truthful, unbiased, etc.

From my brief chats with GPT3 it didn't take me long (in conversation about a specific medical issue) to find that whilst its first answer seemed credible and balanced, the truth was it was misquoting references and years, giving me references which did not exist, giving me what I'd call "received opinion" and generally not using "Intelligence" at all.

Emily Bender, go girl!

LastPass admits attackers have a copy of customers’ password vaults


Air gap

Nothing like it.

I would never store something vital to my security under someone else's control.

Naebuddy's gonnae git ma passwurds withoot breaking in an' nickin ma computer first. Then break my password safe master password. And at least if the computer's not there, I know to ring the bank etc. And I refuse to have bank apps etc on my phone in case of losing it.

Paranoid? Moi? Oui.

When we asked how you crashed the system we wanted an explanation not a demonstration


I too forgot what the computer was *supposed* to do.

Just about qualifies as computer/user interface error...

As we know, all modern cars are in fact a number of computers surrounded by pretty metal and some leather. My old jalopy (2006) still young enough to have about 30 of the damned things. One of them is supposed to do something, which indeed it did on cue.

So, I'd had the old jalopy's headlights refreshed by a Man who does - fine paste grind-back of the plastic lenses and polish, followed by sealant and UV barrier coating. Whilst we were wrapping up after the last stage which, Mr Man reminded me, needed to be allowed to fully dry (I was even thinking about garaging it as rain seemed to be due), we started discussing his other old-jalopy-skills, namely sealing chips in the windscreen. We were looking for the chips and I said "it's easier to spot them if I run the wash-wipers", which I proceeded to do (3 x unstoppable 2 second bursts). Whereupon the module responsible for washing the, er., headlights on the first then every seventh windscreen wash, sprayed wash water all over the headlights. Doh. At this point we discovered that 5 minutes in direct sun turned out to be as good as the quoted hour in less friendly weather for the coating to dry.

Got away with it, apart from the embarrassment.

tsoHost pulls plug on Gridhost service with just 45 days' notice



I'm a zero-delete kind of emailer, but of course, the one (or two) emails you wanted to check back on, I did delete. Pretty sure I did get a migrate email from TSO and that the promised seamless migration did happen. The one remaining site I still have with them (I can't get the charity to agree to move to a proper - but paid - hoster, so stuck on their free charity package + not-free domain name), is now on their cPanel servers (though with a klutzy front end without direct access to the cPanel main menu) whereas before was an entire klutzy not-cPanel. I did keep the DNS migration emails, which effort was a pain - if they can migrate us themselves, why not fix the DNS records, too.

Have ensured I have whole-site back-ups away from their servers ready to migrate on the inevitable day it all goes tits-up* and I can finally tell the charity I told you so, and get free SSL into the bargain.

* Reg-ers expansions invited...



"chaotic customer support situation, with hours-long waits to even talk to a member of staff on live chat"

And the difference is...?

GM's Cruise revises self-driving software after San Francisco crash


Comments above about subtle cues from other meat-based drivers, not being visible due to dark screens etc: I'm not sure it's the actual driver you'd get subtle cues from, more the behaviour of the vehicle under the meat's control. However, I would absolutely agree that as your driving experience increases, your natural wariness increases, in the same way they say that 2/3rds of verbal communication is actually body language (provided you're not a driver in the latest go-faster make of machine - was originally BMW drivers, then Audi, I suspect Tesla now high on the list). Just yesterday I found myself slowing just because I felt the road arrangement I was entering had potentially hidden dangers. How AI/driverless is ever going to get to that sort of awareness, I don't know.

Everyone back to the office! Why? Because the decision has been made


Re: Jacob Rees-Mogg

What more can one say? This! From that link.

"In April 2018, Beano Studios issued a cease and desist letter to Jacob Rees-Mogg, a prominent British right-wing Conservative MP with upper middle-class mannerisms, asserting that Rees-Mogg was imitating Walter"

Thunderbird 102 gets a major facelift, Matrix chat support


STILL no full Reply header

For goodness' sake, please can they get round to supplying a built-in option for a full Reply header ("Outlook style" if you must, but whatever, with full info, not just "On [date] [someone] said" which is most uninformative). They still have it for Forwards, why not just use the same routine for using it in Replies too ???!!!! This has been a persistent lack in Thunderbird, hole filled by add-ons, but of course, 102 breaks ReplyWithHeader add-on which hasn't caught up with 102 yet. And some add-on Devs are getting fed up with Thunderbird's changes and given up, so at present we can only hope it will be updated for 102. Or, stick with circa v 66 as I have ! :) :)

Record players make comeback with Ikea, others pitching tricked-out turntables


Come ON, folks

This is a thread about hi-fi vinyl vs. CD, has been out for 24 hrs, and only 100 comments?!


Re: Not unexpectedly..

"Virtually every vinyl LP produced in the last 40 years has been digitally mastered"

Yep, but at a much higher sampling rate and bit depth than a CD can hold. "Even" a CD is degraded from the original recording.