* Posts by kulath

8 publicly visible posts • joined 28 Dec 2018

How governments become addicted to suppliers like Fujitsu


Lots of Government systems (still) run on ICL VME

Some of the reason for Fujitsu getting these contracts is because many of the Government systems still run on ICL 2900 VME - yes, I know it is now called something different like DME or other names, and I know it now runs in emulation or something on top of generic Fujitsu Linux systems, but the code and the middleware like the database and the transaction manager is based on ICL VME. A specific example is the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF), but others are I think the VAT system and DHSS systems. Government is trying hard to get off these old systems, but the length of time it has taken to replace CHIEF just shows how hard it is. Meanwhile, if Fujitsu decided to pull out of UK and pull out of supporting all that middleware, I wonder how long it would be before government systems collapsed.

Post Office threatened to sue Fujitsu over missing audit data


Re: It a wonder why this happens

Paula Vennells seems to have lied and also lied to the HoC committee. But I'm not sure why you think she should have asked for an independent check (do you get an independent check for every weekly report you get from your underlings - you will be out pretty quickly), EXCEPT that in her email asking for reassurance she says something like "I need to be able to tell <them> that the system is robust" - she wouldn't have written it that way unless she had suspicions that it was not robust, and if you are asking a question like that you shouldn't word it asking for the answer you want. In that case, it was the fault of the managers for not establishing the truth and telling her it, but which managers have the courage to do so - the likely outcome is that you get moved sideways to a non-job paying peanuts so you resign. They should all be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice, but their defence (as you can see in the Horizon Inquiry) is that the just don't recall.

The Post Office systems scandal demands a critical response


Re: It's still happening

Come on, it is either a joke, or conceivably written on some basis of getting paid by the line. (I well remember being told about some ICL 1900 project where they never used one or some particular registers - the 1900 had eight registers - because they were only used in dummy code to get the line count up). Calculating d=d-(2*d) is quite an obscure way of doing the sum compared with all the much simpler ways, so the programmer clearly did have some knowledge of elementary maths. Not defending the code or the programmer, just it's such a stupid piece of code it shouldn't be taken as if the programmer didn't know it was stupid.

Why ChatGPT should be considered a malevolent AI – and be destroyed


Re: "What else would ChatGPT do to protect itself from being discovered as a liar?"

No, it doesn’t do any of that. AIUI it just knows what follows a start word. So if you ask how it knows that you are dead, it just knows that the most likely words to follow “I know you are dead because” are “I read it in” some reputable source. And it knows that the most likely words to follow the start of a URL are some set of random words it has seen following the start of that URL.

I am grateful for the example I saw where it said after “the tallest mountain in the world is” the most likely next words (found in the training data) are “Mount Everest”.

UK.gov awards seats on £2bn 'digital outcomes' framework to suppliers – one of which doesn't even have a website


"Digital Outcomes"??

Seriously, what does "Digital Outcomes" actually mean?

As somebody says: "Whilst I agree improving the user experience is key, it’s not ‘at the heart’. Surely at the heart is modernising business processes, technology so it’s fit for purpose and does the Fucking job.... as well as being good to use, but as specified, fit for purpose, supportable, on-budget and performant/scalable too. Lipstick on piggers it seems. Just reskin the UI. Job done."

A good example of how the only thing they care about is the UI, and why (despite the triumph of getting people actually vaccinated), the vaccination call-up is a bit of a mess with people getting notified twice is the "requirements" for the COVID-19 Vaccination support: https://gpitbjss.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/CVPDR/overview?homepageId=2717090030 . Basically it says nothing more than (e.g.) when the health care professional wants to record an invite has been created, a record is created. Nothing about where the record is created, or whether it is coordinated with any other NHS systems, etc.

The delights of on-site working – sun, sea and... WordPad wrangling?


Program patching

The first place I worked, a client would periodically contact the company to get a new run with different parameters of some guided weapon program. They had to get some particular person to do the run, partly because she had the requisite clearance, and partly because she was the only person who knew how to do it. The program originally ran on a 709, then it was run on a 7090 emulating a 709, then on an IMB 360 emulating a 7090 emulating a 709. The source code had long been lost, so the binary program had to be patched to change the parameters.

Spanking the pirates of corporate security? Try a Plimsoll


Re: A decent backup strategy is very expensive.

But a space shuttle landing on the Shard may kill 72 people.

2018 ain't done yet... Amazon sent Alexa recordings of man and girlfriend to stranger


Re: More questions than answers...

Under GDPR you can keep data indefinitely for "scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes". For example, keeping voice and the transcript to compare against an improved voice recognition mechanism would seem like a perfectly valid scientific purpose.

No need to notify the user or for informed consent.