* Posts by John H Woods

2145 posts • joined 14 Nov 2007

Global spy system ECHELON confirmed at last – by leaked Snowden files

John H Woods
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Re: @Pascal Meh.

"Sorry, but when you have people blowing themselves up and killing people... I'll accept limited snooping if it means I can sleep safe and bomb free." -- Ian Michael Gumby

We have pretty much established that limited snooping does not mean you can sleep safe and bomb free, so your statement isn't really very useful. Do you mean you would accept vastly more snooping, i.e., the amount that would allow you to sleep safe and bomb free? I think the amount of snooping required to achieve that is effectively unlimited. Or do you mean that you won't accept any snooping at all if it doesn't allow you to sleep safe and bomb free? Both positions seem ridiculous, but if you don't hold either of them your conditional statement is effectively content free.

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John H Woods
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Re: @moiety

"... but I'm pretty sure that the technology is still being developed ..." -- moeity

Trouble is ... the maths is already developed, so it really doesn't matter what you do with the technology. There are too many people and too few terrorists, so if your false positive rate is anywhere near the realm of the possible you will have far too many leads to follow (a "99.99% accurate" test would give you 3,000 leads in the UK alone - it would take something like 30,000 field operatives --- and probably another 10,000 support staff --- to keep an eye on them 24x7).

See base rate fallacy and/or paradox of the false positive

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Windows 10: Buy cheap, buy twice, right? Buy FREE ... buy FOREVER

John H Woods
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Re: Kudos for the 1970's music reference

"ITYM lobotomised" -- Stoneshop

Indeed. Both my teenage boys requested headphones for birthday presents, cue trips to hifi shops to try them on, and one trip to HMV to try Beats. Both boys said the same thing "Are these faulty?"

I put them on. OMG, do people really like that? It just sounds like nextdoor's music turned up way too loud. I have not heard any genre of music, hip hop included, that sounds better on Beats than any similarly priced offerings from Sennheiser, BeyerDynamic, hell, even Bose.

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HP insists 'we don't have a global dress code' – while deleting one from its website

John H Woods
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"Just a t-shirt???? That might draw a crowd depending on who's wearing it" -- Mark85

theoatmeal.com/pl/minor_differences4/shirt

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The Q7: Audi’s big SUV goes from tosspot to tip-top

John H Woods
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Re: Deep Joy

"Plus they don't fit into parking spaces" -- AC

Almost nothing fits into parking spaces any more -- they are like bus seats, still being made to fit the sizes of vehicles and backsides that were around in the '70s and '80s.

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Gay emojis? GAY EMOJIS?! Not here in Russia, comrade

John H Woods
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New Emoji request ...

... muscular bare-chested male riding a horse; holding an AK; wrestling a bear etc.

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No, Microsoft: Your one-billion Windows 10 goal is just sad ... really sad

John H Woods
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"...unwanted act of fellatio..." -- AC

<pedant_mode>

ITYM 'irrumatio' -- an unwanted act of fellatio would be something else: "Hey! I *really* didn't want you to wake me up like that ... etc"

</pedant_mode>

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Derelict TrueCrypt Russia portal 'is command hub for Ukraine spying op'

John H Woods
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Re: When the developer...

"When the developer says, "So long and thanks for all the fish!" while also saying "Don't use this" there's probably a reason for that." -- Bob Dole

This is a version with a back-door. That doesn't mean the original version has a back-door (or that it doesn't). The TrueCrypt goodbye message looks a lot more like a warrant canary than anything else.

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Hurrah! Uber does work (in the broadest sense of the word) after all

John H Woods
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Re: Again?

Principally as a result of Tim Worstall's articles, I have actually found myself reading Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations" It's hard to recommend this too highly -- it's a very rewarding, if not entirely straightforward read. It is especially interesting how he railed against allowing special interests too much control, or even just influence, over governments. In particular, he talks of "corporations" which, as I understand it, then referred to businesses who use government law to restrict competition in order to gain financial advantage --- that would seem to describe the medallion issue in the article perfectly.

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21st century malware found in Jane Austen's 19th century prose

John H Woods
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Re: Well it makes sense

Speaking as a member of that set, can I recommend it to people? Start with Northanger Abbey, though!

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At last we know for sure. Blighty's 'best mobile network' is ...

John H Woods
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Until we got rural fibre ...

my Three phone easily beat the 2Mbps of the ADSL. SWIMBO's on EE, and if she wants data in this part of Warwickshire, most of the time it has to be done by my phone's hotspot. Text and Voice no problem; but data's an absolute joke - I'd have to keep reminding myself its 100x better than Voda or I'd burst into tears.

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Intel tests definition of insanity with (leaked) typoslab Skylake CPUs

John H Woods
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Re: The definition of insanity ...

"The quoted definition is a horribly poor one anyway" -- DropBear

Yeah, it's a particular bugbear of mine. At least it wasn't mis-attributed to Einstein, which is the usual state of affairs with this (mis)quotation. It actually seems to have come from an Narcotics Anonymous pamphlet (page 11 [25 of 68] of this pdf) which contains the more sensible "repeating the same mistakes ..."

Anyway, every time I see it, I have to complain: it's right up there with "everything happens for a reason" and "everyone's entitled to their opinion." I keep thinking there should be a pithy retort along the lines of "you clearly can't tell your perseverance from your perseveration" but I'm still looking for something effective.

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John H Woods
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The definition of insanity ...

... might well be making the same mistakes over and over again and expecting different results --- but nearly every form of success other than 'striking it lucky' comes from trying things again and again until they work - whether it's creating and marketing products, kung fu or musical performance.

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Hold that upgrade: Critical bug in .NET 4.6 'breaks applications'

John H Woods
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Classic Heisenbug?

"Attaching a debugger, says Craver, changes the behavior and usually hides the issue."

The only one I've every experienced directly in my professional career was in a mainframe screenscraper --- when logging was on, the submillisecond delay caused by writing the log entry was enough for the MF to respond, and to hide the fact that the procedure didn't wait for the response if it wasn't ready; with logging off the procedure just fell straight through and returned an empty response.

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US State of Georgia sues 'terrorist' for publishing its own laws ... on the internet

John H Woods
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Re: Major change needed

... and how about PIN number?

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The Lazarus Effect: Saved by Linux and Cash Converters

John H Woods
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"You choosing a penetration testing distribution and complaining that the UI is not polished seems a little naive on your part." -- kryptylomese

Although I was impressed at the author's flexibility and open-mindedness, this did seem a weird choice for my-first-linux. I would agree Ubuntu Mate or Linux Mint would make a much more obvious choice --- but maybe the author needed to use someone else's "secured" hotspot :-)

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Choc Factory research shows users just don't get security

John H Woods
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Re: Password managers

"Password managers don't have to be run 'in the cloud' - they can be standalone applications running on your computer, and which should therefore continue running long after the developers have gone." -- VinceH

Here's mine:

echo -n 'mymainpassword myusernameforthewebsite thewebsitename' | sha256sum - | xxd -r -p | base64 | tr 'a-m' '!--' | cut -c -20 | xclip

When my browser can't remember a password, I just run that script in a terminal, then middle key click the password input field to paste a twenty character password, with 6 bits of entropy per character. If you used the literal values in the case above it would be: 3"'MnsKA-&t74GD&,GxE

For stupid accounts that insist on alphanumeric only, replace the 'tr' command (with something like sed "s/[+/=]//g"). The script works with very little modification on windows too. I also have a version that does a non-echoing prompt for the main password, but I tend not to bother with that now unless I'm aware I may be overlooked (but it's also good if you don't want it to end up in your shell history):

read -s -p "Password:" PASSWORD && echo -n "$PASSWORD myusernameforthewebsite thewebsitename" | sha256sum - | xxd -r -p | base64 | cut -c -20 | xclip

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Now car hackers can bust in through your motor's DAB RADIO

John H Woods
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Re: TBH

Olaf > the destination is 10m west of whatever you put in

Me >> <pedant_mode>I think I'm quite capable of walking 10 metres in an easterly direction when I get there</pedant_mode>

BlaneBramble >>> Not if there is a substantial obstacle 10m West (wall, lake, large drop, etc.) of your destination."

Well, when I'm driving the car myself, I have an additional gadget that warns me of obstacles unknown to the satnav, aka Mk I Eyeball; self-driving cars have radar / lidar. But my original comment was just a poor attempt at humour, I knew that 'm' meant miles in this context.

Olaf's point, though - that someone could quietly reprogram your satnav, is quite an interesting one - especially combined with control over speed, doors etc (or a self driving car), it could certainly facilitate carjacking or abduction.

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John H Woods
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Re: TBH

"the destination is 10m west of whatever you put in" -- Olaf

<pedant_mode>I think I'm quite capable of walking 10 metres in an easterly direction when I get there</pedant_mode>

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John H Woods
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Re: @Mongo - Yet again poor design and great hacking reveals me as a muppet

"The real muppets are the ones whose poor programing practices allowed such things to happen in the first place!" -- Graham Marsden

I disagree, they are merely inexperienced graduates and/or other noobs. Or, quite often, they have already raised concerns only to have them airily dismissed. The real muppets are those who actually have the power to make decisions (which, in practice, always means budget controllers) on hiring, testing, and quality control.

Even a single, highly experienced and or qualified software/security engineer attached to one or more of these teams would make a difference in quality. The difference that 1st level management see is a 1% increase in their budget, so they demur. But even these managers are relatively blameless: they know that, whatever they say, those above them see only $ signs, and that if they are seen to increase their budget by 1% they are automatically regarded as failing, as no justification would be understood (to be honest, even given an audience) by higher management.

This status quo will continue until those at the top suffer financially or legally. They cannot be allowed to continue to micromanage budgets all the way down and then shrug their shoulders at the almost inevitable consequences.

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HP slaps dress code on R&D geeks: Bin that T-shirt, put on this tie

John H Woods
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Re: When customers....

"Re: When customers visit an R&D department they WANT to see geeks!" -- circusmole

Labcoats! Or, if they work on HP printer drivers, Hazmat suits ...

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Keep your stupid drones away from piloted aircraft, rages CAA

John H Woods
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If flying drones near aircraft is really dangerous ...

... surely additional legislation is inappropriate, given that (a) existing legislation would appear to suffice and (b) there are, as we are constantly reminded, a non-zero number of people who would endanger aircraft on purpose.

Can't those people charged with ensuring our safety come up with some electronic counter measures and some electronics / software to trace operators?

I'm pretty sure there's going to be a market in anti-drone devices, as an anti-paparazzi measure for wealthy celebs, if nothing else. Wonder what you'd need for safe capture? Anyone fancy going into business?

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Beaten blokes HATE the women who frag them in online games

John H Woods
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Re: Credibility

"I believe PLOS One is an 'open' journal that allows you to publish anything so long as you pay the fee. So long credibility!" -- Banksey

"PLOS ONE takes the hard work out of publishing. There's no stress waiting to find out if your article meets subjective acceptance criteria. As long as your work reaches a high technical and ethical standard, PLOS ONE will publish it - and make it freely available to a global audience."

This is not quite "anything" it just relaxes the peer-review requirement, similar to arxiv.org. It's not that one should immediately discount anything that's written there, but that one should be sensitive to the context.

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Jeep drivers can be HACKED to DEATH: All you need is the car's IP address

John H Woods
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Re: $5k per car, or...?

"I can believe this level of incompetence though. I am leaving my job working with 'med-tech' because the software standards I experienced made the rushed code for a mediocre game look like NASA code. The software profession tolerates a lot of idiots." -- GameCoder

The trouble is that software is not a "profession" -- it is a job. We don't need to regulate everyone, but probably those who develop safety critical systems, and possibly those who develop any internet facing systems, should be qualified and/or licensed to do so -- not so much to stop developers misrepresenting themselves, which is fairly rare, but to prevent corporations' simply choosing the 'lowest cost resources' for development, skimping on testing (i.e. avoiding any realistic or significant testing at all) and simply shrugging their shoulders when things go wrong.

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Oi, #tubby! You are what you Tweet, boffins find

John H Woods
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Interesting ...

but not too surprising, as it seems to match the trend in general conversation in my experience. Perhaps there's a correlation between what people post and what they say in conversation 1.0?

Pedantic note: can we please talk about "sugary" rather than "soft" drinks when talking about obesity? Very many soft drinks have negligible calories whereas some of the non-carbonated ones (including pure fruit juice and milk shakes) are highly calorific.

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Ashley Madison invites red-faced cheats to bolt stable door for free

John H Woods
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Re: Odd modus operandi

"This isn't a Hollywood movie and most people aren't cosy with Mafia types, so that's all rather a bit far fetched don't you think?" --- Amorous Cowherder

He did say "a few dozen" let's say 3 dozen - that's one in a million users might know (or indeed be) "someone useful" Doesn't seem too outrageous to me ...

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More Apple Car mutterings: Cupertino slurps more autobiz brains

John H Woods
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Re: Name

"Really it isn't an orange you know." --- Eddy Ito

Good job, who wants to have a segmentation fault when driving?

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Ashley Madison hack: Site for people who can't be trusted can't be trusted

John H Woods
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Re: Using words too lightly

"Terrorism - the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce" -- Chris W

That's a stupid definition, where did you get it from? It would make a mugger a terrorist.

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Spamquake subsides: less than half of email is now processed pork

John H Woods
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Re: Phishing

"Oh, and spammers, please never learn how to spell. That would make your trash a lot more difficult to filter." -- Pascal Monett

There's a theory they do this on purpose as per this pdf: you think you're screening them out for bad spelling, but actually they're screening you out for critical thinking.

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Being common is tragic, but the tragedy of the commons is still true

John H Woods
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Re: 5000 years

"Wages go up. That is what happened with the Black Death...." -- Tim Worstall

... I did hear that this is what led to the invention of the pub, as workers pay was so improved that they had both some free time and spare money. So it spawned a whole new industry ...

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Horrifying MOCK BACON ABOMINATION grown in BUBBLING VATS as ALGAE

John H Woods
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Re: The horror, the horror

"Ate it in China, most organics are considered foodstuffs there." -- Arthur the cat

""If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it." -- HRH Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh (at a WWF meeting in 1986)

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Sixty-five THOUSAND Range Rovers recalled over DOOR software glitch

John H Woods
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Stop

Re: As I've commented previously

I can understand a car engine not stopping immediately when the key is removed, but I cannot understand why such a vehicle would lack a non-defeatable stop switch. I cannot think of any piece of remotely heavy machinery that does not have a big red STOP button on it (isn't it a legal requirement?)

Of course, you have to guard against accidental presses (I do recall an account of a noob, leaving a datacentre with a co-worker and being asked to 'get the lights' pressing the STOP switch!) but nevertheless ...

BTW, quick shout-out to all the old fogeys who remember what a BRS reset is ... or a Molly guard!

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Satoru Iwata, Nintendo chieftain and gamer titan, dies aged 55

John H Woods
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According to the Graun ...

... he said, at the 2005 Game Developers Conference:

"On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer."

Such a shame he hit Game Over at only Level 55. Let us hope he continues to be an inspiration.

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Download Festival face scan: You’re right to be annoyed, said UK surveillance commish

John H Woods
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Re: Today - faces, tomorrow - thoughts

"Hell, let's be honest, they just don't want the proles thinking, full stop. Far too dangerous." -- Tony S

"The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out... without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable." -- H L Mencken

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What do you MEAN, 'Click on the thing which looks like a Mondrian?'

John H Woods
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Re: Knowledge != Knowledge

"All across society people have instant access, via their smartphones to almost the sum total of the knowledge of the human race but it doesn't seem to be helping much." -- Phuq Wit

What amazes me is people's reluctance to consult this information. Cabbies who don't use their Sat Navs; people posting nonsense on Facebook when a 10 second search would have told them it was a hoax; people unable to learn basic concepts when a world of YouTube tutorials exists ...

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John H Woods
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Re: Anyone been tempted?

"Sorry for the swearing but I really wonder why anyone puts text in error messages as the otherwise literate cannot possible read more than one word of it, it seems." -- AC

It's not alone, but Lotus Notes in particular is rather good at popping up completely empty error messages, with nothing but an OK button -- perhaps a red X icon if you are lucky.

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Sorry, say boffins, the LHC still hasn't sucked us into a black hole

John H Woods
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Never mind more than a curiosity...

... if you could create a nice small black hole in a nice stable container, you could chuck mass in it and harvest energy given off as Hawking radiation. It would be the ultimate waste processing facility - the waste is gone for ever and the energy extracted from so doing, if you feed it just fast enough to stop it evaporating, approaches the theoretical maximum.

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John H Woods
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Re: How would we know?

This is testable - in a solipsist manner: all you have to do is commit suicide - or not - based on a quantum event (e.g. make yourself a Schrödinger's cat). At a 50% chance of not making it out of the box, by the time you've done it 5 times, it's starting to look like it's true. By the time you've survived it 10 times, it's probably true. By the time you've done it 30 times, the chances that it's false (providing your set up is correct) is about one in a billion.

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Black and Latina boffins regularly mistaken for janitors, study finds

John H Woods
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I remember ...

... a brief stint working as an assistant to a brilliant maths professor, whose research was groundbreaking, who could teach as well, and speak about 10 languages. She also had long blonde hair, even longer legs and was quite happy to wear make up.

In two weeks, I lost count of the number of times people asked her if Professor **** was available, whilst nodding in my direction. Not a single person asked me, the assistant, if the professor was about.

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Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Uitsmijter

John H Woods
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Can I suggest ...

A nice quiche, b̶o̶u̶g̶h̶t̶ prepared beforehand and blasted in the microwave (or not) when required. I've always been told that "Real Men don't eat quiche" but since it's basically bacon & egg pie I find this somewhat confusing.

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Biologists gasp at lemur's improbably colossal bollocks

John H Woods
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" ... equivalent to grapefruit sized on human chaps"

Maybe it has just had a vasectomy?

"You may experience some discomfort ..." they told me. They didn't add "... if you're very, very lucky ... mwah hah ha ha"

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Silly Google's Photos app labelled BLACK PEOPLE as GORILLAS

John H Woods
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What neural networks think ...

Check out this Google Research Blog where they get some insight into what ANNs (artificial neural networks or "AI") have actually learned by feeding them random noise or images of clouds and (simplifying here) "asking them" to identify buildings or animals.

The identification is, without the G-word, one of dark skinned higher apes and, on a naive level, this is not really a failure: the gorillas, the chimpanzees and the bonobos are our closest living relatives. And by close, I mean really close, on a deep genetic level. The connotations of the word are terrible, but that is because of centuries of human racism, not because ANNs (or Google) are "racist". The reason white people aren't identified as such is because we are the mutants who lost our ability to produce large amounts of melanin, resulting in a very obvious visual difference: one which, to ANNs, can appear much more significant than it really is. In fact, it just means we can tolerate cooler climes somewhat better and intense sunlight a hell of a lot worse. They'll have pulled the ANN now, but I'll bet that a 'negative' of a group of white people would also have produced the same result.

Where other visual indicators are more significant, the ANN picks that. Note that, despite the subject not being white, the last picture in the tweet is correctly identified as being one of a graduation.

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'Please, choose to be a good citizen and DON’T ask Siri about 9/11'

John H Woods
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Re: Silly people

"The one true date format is YYYYMMDD and always will be" -- Crisp

+1. But it confuses the hell out of bureaucrats and is impossible on many forms where they have specified the order for you. Both UK and US formats should be abolished - they are both sufficiently prevalent that, in the absence of other information, they are ambiguous 132 days per year (>36% of the time).

However, has anyone tried the ISO 8601 date on Siri? It still ends "oh nine one one," after all.

<pedant>I would perhaps replace "always" with "for the next nearly 8000 years"</pedant>

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John H Woods
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Ahem ...

... don't want to be too Pecksniffian about it, but surely when one's car is ambushed and the driver held hostage that is a serious and frightening situation and probably, even if one is something of a celebrity, does not deserve to be compared to merely having been supplied with the wrong brand of bottled water?

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Who wants a classic ThinkPad with whizzy new hardware? Lenovo would just love to know

John H Woods
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Re: It is already there

"I've been looking at the gaming laptops for a replacement for my TP W701. "-- elDog

Have you looked at the possibility of using an eGPU?

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GM's cheaper-than-Tesla 'leccy car tested at batt-powered data centre

John H Woods
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Re: What a horrible paint job

"That paint job is a standard issue for most prototype cars (it's used in one form or other by BMW, JLR, etc) - I understand it's designed to make it difficult to perceive the actual outline of the car" -- Jeff Clarke

Confirmed --- I live just down the road from Gaydon and there are plenty of Jags, Aston Martins, and Range rovers to be seen with these striking line-disrupting paint jobs. Most of them go past so fast that you wonder whether the camo is strictly necessary....

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Britain beats back Argies over Falklands online land grab

John H Woods
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Re: How about a swap?

"spanwegian" - love it; weirdest sound I ever heard was fluent Arabic with an unmistakable strong Scouse accent ...

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Online gov services are mostly time-wasting duplicates, says EU

John H Woods
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Enter your email address / telephone number AGAIN to confirm

"WHY?" -- 1980s_coder

+1. I just hold CTRL and press A C I V which normally does it but it's still very annoying!

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