* Posts by Johnb89

145 publicly visible posts • joined 14 Jan 2022


Meta, Google, TikTok and friends sue California to block kids privacy law


This sounds a lot like the UK online harms bill

At first glance at least, this sounds like the UK online harms bill currently in parliament. Perhaps lessons could be shared, approaches could be compared, ideas exchanged?

Better yet, let someone else (ie California) give this a go, gov.uk, and see how they get on... save us on this side of the pond a lot of faffing about.

BBC is still struggling with the digital switch, says watchdog


The BBC does not compete on a level playing field

The BBC gets most of its money with the backing of the police, an advantage many businesses would love to have. Do they take that money and do their job of being a public service broadcaster? Only partly. For example: A true public service broadcaster would tell me how to watch the footie no matter what channel its on... the BBC does not do that, they only talk about BBC channels/radio/app/website. The BBC's attitude is to compete, and they have the field tilted in their favour.

Then they spend money on silly things... Search? Changing the logo of their apps every 6 months instead of making them work well? Pushing DAB on us even though it hardly works?

That's ignoring that the licence fee has to be the least efficient way of collecting a tax imaginable.

EU takes another step towards US data-sharing agreement


Arbitration panel

Back at Shrems1 a key failure was that, while there was an arbitration panel, there was no way for an EU citizen to KNOW that their data had been accessed, in order to take it to arbitration. That is, if one found that one's data had been accessed improperly one could take it to arbitration, but no entity was obliged to tell an EU citizen that anything had been accessed.

Does anyone know if that flaw/loophole has been fixed here? It would be a small step, though only a small step.

Look like Bane, spend like Batman with Dyson's $949 headphones


Re: Snot Cannon

Already done, ish


Beware, clever as she is, some would consider her feed NSFW.

Boss installed software from behind the Iron Curtain, techies ended up Putin things back together


Re: Offending machines

Then you ask the Japanese 'But these machines, they are just out in the street. Aren't they used by children?'

Blank look. 'Of course not. They're not allowed to.' is the answer.

Two signs in the comms cabinet said 'Do not unplug'. Guess what happened


Re: Don't forget mischief

I used to think that, but then realised that as most roads in London tourist areas are one way no one knows what direction the traffic is coming from. So they are as much for the locals as the tourists.

What is funny is the amount of absolutely no notice whatsoever that pedestrians in London pay to crossings. "Like I'm going to wait 60s for this crossing to stop the stopped traffic for me to cross this single lane road?"

Microsoft 365 faces more GDPR headwinds as Germany bans it in schools


Re: This regulator's no good, I'll get myself another

Exactly that... it isn't Microsoft's 'fault', its that they are a US company, subject to US law. No matter what they do under current US law they breach GDPR. So does every other US-registered company. US-based companies? Companies that operate at all in the US? Don't know.

There might be one or two other US companies having the same flaw in their ability to do GDPR compatible business. Well done Mr. Schrems!

Not that we should feel sorry for M$, but their weasel words give it away... they can't squeal against US law lest they lose their big contracts there.

Meta faces lawsuit to stop 'surveillance advertising'


Turnabout would be fair play

I've said it before: express to anyone you know that works at Facebook (or google) that you have a legitimate interest in what they do in their bedroom, so will be putting a camera there.

Particularly if they are a VP or higher, or Director etc. If they think its ok to watch us, then its ok for us to watch them. Shall we organise to follow them home? Sit awkwardly close to them at the pub and listen?

Why do they think that's not ok?

Someone has to say it: Voice assistants are not doing it for big tech


But the data

Ok, so the agreement here is that WE don't like Alexa etc. But if Amazon doesn't like it does that mean that data harvesting isn't as lucrative as they had hoped? Listening to our ramblings in the house doesn't yield monetisable insights?

Or is their processing of all that as unreliable as searching on Amazon for a thing, as others have noted, where searching for a thing presents me with such a collection of rubbish, mishits and price variety that I can't be bothered to try to make sense of it all?

Also... you forgot Bixby! That assistant with the unmissable un-unprogrammable button on at least a few generations of Samsung phones!

New SI prefixes clear the way for quettabytes of storage


Re: This is getting silly now

Japanese do things by 10,000s: 'Mon'. So ichi-mon yen is one ten thousand yen, and is the commonly used large note.

Apple sued for collecting user data despite opt-outs


Re: it is rather simple according to iOS documentation...

It says 'allow apps to request to track', not 'allow apps to track'. What about those that track without requesting to do so? For example, the apple ones.

Like I said elsewhere, too many lawyers.


There are too many lawyers

The fine distinctions and things-not-said and incredibly long agreements and backwards wording in all of these things, as put in by too many lawyers whose job it is to trick users and ofuscate information are just not ok.

As Iglethal said, a reasonable user would interpret 'do not let apps track' to include Apple, and only a weasel would even suggest otherwise.

One is reminded of Google getting done for tracking location after people had set 'do not track location'... 'yeah but they didn't set it that way in the 2nd hidden place...'

Robotics startup wants to disrupt walking with AI roller skates


Re: Why?

Not wanting to defend the use of AI in anything, but I think you've misunderstood....

These will let you go the speed of skating with the effort of walking, is the idea. So you can 'walk' fast and not get sweaty.

The interesting matter of stopping, which is nigh on impossible on rollerblades without ruining them quickly, intrigues me... how do they know when I want to stop? I'm assuming they've figured that out.

Musk tells of risk of Twitter bankruptcy as tweeters trash brands


I want it to go slower

I want it to go slower because then it will be funny for longer.

Tesla recalls 40k cars over patch that broke power steering


The least of Elon's problems?

This may be the least of Elon's problems, but 2 tons of uncontrolled car because they couldn't be arsed to test the software properly, let alone develop it properly, is A Big Problem. Perhaps there shouldn't BE software in the steering system until we find a way to make software work reliably? Or brakes, or indeed any part of a car that makes it go or stop. Or perhaps at least not software that an amateur can push out at will because its too easy to update to fix.

Literally move fast and break things. Things including other people, cyclists, houses, cars, ships, poles, reg readers, what have you.

Bill Gates' green investments to shift from tackling climate change to mitigating impacts


Bill is coming good in the end

Having inflicted low-level misery on millions* for so long, you have to applaud Mr. Bill for trying to do some good with his ill-gotten gains. Well done Sir!

*Windows etc being as useless as it was/is causing annoyance and suffering, which is low-level compared to say not having food or clean water.

Crypto biz Wintermute loses $160m in cyber-heist, tells us not to stress out


Won't they think of the children?

Where the whole entire point of crypto is to lure suckers (sorry, investors) to put real money into tokens/coins/NFTs/made-up-things, DON'T THEY REALISE that publicity like this damages that mission?

Try harder, crypto bros. Try harder.

Google says some AI call center agents took the morning off


You can contact Google?

Hang on, I thought the whole point of having a google account/using google services etc was that you couldn't in any way contact them no matter what the problem, even if that problem was entirely google's fault?

Don't want to get run over by a Ford car? There's a Bluetooth app for that


Re: Ford's solution to their unsafe drivers/vehicles is for potential victims to run an app

Apple solved the aeroplane mode issue... putting an iphone in airplane mode doesn't necessarily turn the bluetooth off. Notably, if you turned bluetooth on last time you were in airplane mode, then next time you activate airplane mode the bluetooth stays on. Not sure how that's even legal, let alone not stupid.

Microsoft rolls out stealthy updates for 365 Apps


785th time's the charm

Sure, MS has had problems with quality and whatnot in the past. But THIS time it'll all be fine. Of course it will.

I recently removed 365 and wasn't even thinking they could do something this stupid.

Apps I've recently ditched because they won't not auto update: Brave browser, Zoom.

Musk seeks yet another excuse to get out of Twitter buyout: This time it's Mudge's severance check


Re: Cheque

I actually bothered to actually log in to tut and tsk at the reg for their lack of standards. As another had already done it, upvote upvoted.

Korea to attend 'Chip 4' meeting as global doubts mounts over US initiative


The invitation is in the spam folder

Have they checked their spam folder? Ignoring that this might be spam, worth checking anyway.

*invitation, not invite, because English.

Google shuts off IoT Core services shortly after announcing API stability commitments


Re: Valley mindset

I think its the 80/20 rule. Googlers, and google, love to play with shiny things, love to announce pretty things, and love when colleagues and others say 'oh neat!'. 20% of the effort gets you 80% of the pretty shiny thing, but then it gets boring finishing it off... because effort. Without incentives - google prints money with the ad engine, so nothing else needs to generate cash - to finish things to a point where its a business, people get bored, can't be arsed, move on to other things, and things get abandoned. Simples.

Yes, I'm jealous, because that sounds really fun.

Meta iOS apps accused of injecting code into third-party websites


Preventing the cure

"We prevented murders, you see, by killing everyone before they could be murdered. You should really be thanking us."

Our software is perfect. If something has gone wrong, it must be YOUR fault


Re: The software conflict

As in 'when I use your software my laptop catches fire', where 'doesn't make laptop catch fire' is an undocumented requirement?

One man's undocumented requirement is another man's totally obvious thing.


The software conflict

It never ceases to amaze me that software devs can hold two conflicting ideas: "Well duh, ALL software has bugs, obvs." and "MY code is PERFECT, how DARE you suggest otherwise".

The latter leads them to instantly conclude that problems are caused by the user or whatever else. Support agents are told to stay with that line upon pain of never getting an answer again, so that's what we users get.

Tesla Full Self-Driving 'fails' to notice child-sized objects in testing


Is FSD beta in the UK?

I've looked around some and haven't been able to decide if Teslas in the UK are able to run the FSD Beta. Anyone know definitively?

If so, under what law or regulation? How many cars have it? (How can we identify them to put "No kill I" stickers all over the windscreen?)

I ask as a concerned/terrified cyclist/pedestrian/occasional driver.

Arrogant, subtle, entitled: 'Toxic' open source GitHub discussions examined


Re: Eh?

Boosting this. Where people are looking to be offended, or think they get internet points for flagging something as toxic, it's way too easy for cancelling and wokeism to get out of control.

There (used to be) a rule: Don't let HR into engineering meetings. HR: "The team hate each other and the environment is toxic, retraining urgently required." Engineers: "We spent 2 hours figuring out how to do it."

Not enough desks and parking spots, wobbly Wi-Fi: Welcome back to the office, Tesla staff


Surely a Tesla car is a Tesla office

Ok so if you work at Tesla you obviously drive a Tesla. And if you drive a Tesla you have autopilot because you work at Tesla, and you believe in autopilot because you have inside information that it really isn't as dangerous as it seems to outsiders, and anyway your company sells it to people to use on public roads so obviously its totally safe. And obviously being IN a Tesla counts as being in a Tesla office....

So.... you get in the car, turn on autopilot and drive around all day while working.

Has the useful side effect that it will run into a post or fire engine or whatever at some point, reducing the number of employees needing to go back to the office as and when.

Samsung fined $14 million for misleading smartphone water resistance claims


Re: I propose a new law

So indeed apple (https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT204104) calls their phones waterproof, but if the LCI is red then you aren't covered under warranty. That's an absolute contradiction between marketing and legal terms.

There is always the option of throwing it at the front window of the shop when it stops working and they point out the warranty exclusion, which sounds fun. Not that one should ever do that, of course.

Apple may have to cough up $1bn to Brits in latest iPhone Batterygate claim


Re: This is why engineers shouldn't decide new features....

Indeed. If they'd told me 'Here's the thing... your battery is getting old. You can either slow the phone down but have it last longer each day, keep it at full performance but have to plug it in more often, or get a new battery' with tickboxes to select 1 or 2, that would have been fine.

But 'It just works' means never telling users anything and making usuallly good but sometimes bad decisions for them.

I'm looking forward to getting my £4.

Brave roasts DuckDuckGo over Bing privacy exception


Re: I really try to like Brave

I used Brave (on mac) for 2 years without crashes.

But... the automatic updates, the automatic updates.... You can't turn them off, and it tricks you into having them. And the github tickets people raise get dismissed by the devs because 'but surely you want the security of updates?'. The idea that people don't want the browser spontaneously restarting (and losing tabs) doesn't seem wrong to them.

I've ditched it for that reason.

Behind Big Tech's big privacy heist: Deliberate obfuscation


Re: Bottom up approach

Interesting, and thank you for posting. Not wanting to sound accusing here, but wanting to understand...

So the data you get is, good or bad quality, personal data about people. Whatever the quality, you are still doing that. How does that make you feel?

You mention they pay you to take it.... but being paid to do something doesn't make it ethical. What if they paid you to, in extremis, stab people? Or listen to conversations that a smart speaker recorded in bedrooms? Where is the line if its not at 'don't use people's personal data without explicit consent'?


Re: Bottom up approach

A further thought on this...

Reg readers that work in ad tech, at google or facebook or whatever, and surely there are some out there: Tell us why what you are doing is fine. Jump in to the comments. Explain your personal rationale for violating everyone's privacy. Come on, WE DARE YOU!


Bottom up approach

As well as wanting regulation, why don't we, as a community, try a bottom up approach...

Any time you meet someone that works at facebook or google or an ad-tech thing, embarrass them. Ask them if they are ok with what their employers do by way of invading everyone's privacy. Ask them if they know what sex toys you have bought. Suggest that they put a webcam in their shower and post the IP address... and if not, why not?. Push them on it. Suggest that a person with a shred of morality or dignity wouldn't be doing what they, personally, do. Suggest that what they do isn't far off child porn.

Do NOT listen to their corporate bollocks about 'oh no that's the other guys but we blah blah' or whatever... we all know what they do.

Google got out of the military AI business because the employees revolted... let's do this one too.

IBM's self-sailing Mayflower suffers another fault in Atlantic crossing bid


Its a hardware problem...

... and IBM is a software company.

Nothing like the hubris of people working well outside their domain. "All problems are solvable with more data!"

Too cynical? See this article.

Big Tech's maps led ride-sharing giant Grab astray


Glad to hear it

That the entire world doesn't live in large single family houses, drives cars, has big open straight roads, and doesn't care about the cost of petrol nor the environmental damage of driving pick up trucks seems to be a revelation to many in tech.

Whether its defaulting to US letter page and paper size, always autocorrecting spelling to 'American' English regardless of settings, or assuming we know what the hell a fire hydrant looks like to get through a captcha..... sheesh.

<rant over>

Europe's GDPR coincides with dramatic drop in Android apps


First burglary, then GDPR

Hundreds of years ago burglary was made illegal, decimating the thieving industry.

Ex-Googlers take a stab at building 'general intelligence' that makes software do what you tell it



So, hypothetically, when I tell my computer to 'Just f*ck right off!', what happens?

The first step to data privacy is admitting you have a problem, Google


Google is a group of people (so is Facebook)

So we have to assume that the people at Google and Facebook (and others) get paid LOTS of money to leave their ethics at the door.

If you know someone that works there, try having a conversation with them about this. Push them a bit. See where it gets you (and tell us). Can they defend what they are doing? If so, how? Try to do it without starting the conversation with 'Look, arsehole...'

Put a camera up to film their house. Put a microphone in their lounge and car. Hell, put a camera in their bedroom. Or at least suggest that you think that would be fine. Tell us what they say.

Unable to write 'Amusing Weekly Column'. Abort, Retry, Fail?


Re: Why only an OK button on the popup?

I've always said there should be buttons: Ok? Not Ok?

Just so I can register it isn't with the universe.

Govt suggests Brits should hand passports to social media companies


Two mutually exclusive options here

The debate about online anonymity (good in many cases) against not allowing online anonymity (good in many cases) is a typical modern (internet) debate, with both sides shouting at each other. The proposed solutions around identity verification is merely one element of one side of the options.

I don't see that we can have both online security (anonymity) AND online safety (not anonymity). The government is trying to pretend one side is possible, reasonable and proportionate, tech advocates are trying to pretend the other.

I don't know if there is a compromise or clever yet-to-be-conceived solution, but both sides are right and both sides are wrong.

European watchdog: All data collected about users via ad-consent popup system must be deleted


Surveillance equality

How about we make it a law that the directors of companies sharing ad information have to place webcams all through their house, so we can all watch them the way they all watch us. Webcam placement to be determined by people who like viewing people's private habits.

Said directors can then 'opt out' of this by not doing that. Simples.

Robot vacuum cleaner employed by Brit budget hotel chain Travelodge flees


Lucky escape

As luck would have it my local little Tesco is just near there, and what did I do Friday lunchtime? I walked right past this hotel and this scene of mayhem, of which there was no evidence whatsoever. Feel like I dodged a bullet (vacuum) I do. Phew.

Microsoft rolls out Files On-Demand with tighter macOS integration – but it defaults to 'on' and can't be disabled


Teetering on the edge of chaos

Random app from some company that can access, modify, delete, scramble or sell anything on my computer, that they can change or break at will with the mandatory auto-updates. In case the opportunity for them to screw my computer up wasn't enough, they want to open me up to supply chain attacks. (I refer to cloud OS integration apps generally).

icloud does the magic 'store it in the cloud, erase it from my device from time to time without telling me, can't force a sync, need internet to get it' game, Tiresome, stupid, and annoying... so let's copy that.

I access cloud storage from the browser only, be that dropbox, pcloud, onedrive, sharepoint, box, google drive or the others that I've needed to use. Yes, that is inconvenient.