* Posts by Julian Bradfield

65 posts • joined 19 Jul 2008

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EU set to bin €500 note

Julian Bradfield

Some 14 years ago, I spent a month in Switzerland as a guest researcher. On the first day, my host took me to the finance office, and they paid my month's salary in cash. Nice 1000Fr notes... Some years later, I reluctantly decided it was time to change the ones I hadn't spent. I took them to the post office, who took them into a back room, came out again saying "gosh, they do have interesting security features", and then insisted on giving me my sterling in RBS £100 notes instead of into my bank account. I walked swiftly to my bank.

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German prof scores €2.4m EU grant to crack software on your bicycle

Julian Bradfield

Last time I saw him (a few years ago now), he was working on wireless brake controllers. It's a very interesting exercise analysing the reliability of wireless brake controls, and computing that despite your natural horror at the idea, they're no more likely to fail than a brake cable is to snap.

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'Bring back xHamster', North Carolina smut watchers grumble

Julian Bradfield

Re: REALLY NOW

Why do people assume toilets are segregated by gender, rather than by sex?

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Infosec bods pop mobile money crypto by 'sniffing' e-mag radiation

Julian Bradfield

Old Handle: the paper says after observing "a few thousand" signatures.

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'Just give me any old date and I'll make it work' ... said the VB script to the coder

Julian Bradfield

Re: VBA date handling has taken at least five years off my lifespan

Um, the tax year starts on 6th April.

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400 jobs to go as Texas Instruments calls time on chip fab in Scotland

Julian Bradfield

Re: Texas and Motorola - common issues

Erm, Vulture@C64, glass is the one thing you absolutely *don't* keep hydrofluoric acid in - one of its main uses is etching glass (which is silicon dioxide, of course). Suitable plastics are ok.

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The paperless office? Don’t talk sheet

Julian Bradfield

Re: I'll see your dot matrix

I still have boxes of line printer output that I use for lining the larder shelves.

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2015 was the Year of the Linux Phone ... Nah, we're messing with you

Julian Bradfield

Re: No excitement here, please.

Funnily enough, fvwm is what I use as my window manager. 2.4 even - I've never been bothered enough to "upgrade" to 2.6.

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Julian Bradfield

No excitement here, please.

"Excitement" means new bloatware that breaks half my workflow and expects me to learn another crappy UI.

I want to run with software that's been essentially unchanged for at least ten years!

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The Register's entirely serious New Year's resolutions for 2016

Julian Bradfield

The following short Stylish entry considerably improves my BBC experience - no doubt I could do better if I could be bothered..

@namespace url(http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml);

@-moz-document domain('bbc.co.uk') {

* { font-size: small !important; }

div.albatross__image { display: none !important; }

div.cormorant-item__image { display: none !important;}

div.pigeon-item__image { display: none !important;}

div.sparrow-item__image { display: none !important;}

div[class='swift faux-block-link'] {display: none !important;}

}

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Enraged Brits demand Donald Trump UK ban

Julian Bradfield

Re: Basically

Just to be pedantic, "worship" comes from "worthship", not "worthyship". There's no trace of -ig/-y anywhere in its history.

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'Dear Daddy...' Max Zuckerberg’s Letter back to her Father

Julian Bradfield

Re: How about we get them modern electricity grids and cheap reliable energy first?

Most estimates over the last few years of deaths due to climate change (i.e. the increase in mortality today over what would have been predicted with a 1990 global climate) run at a couple of hundred thousand per year. That's quite a long way from "nobody".

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Google to end updates, security bug fixes for Chrome on 32-bit Linux

Julian Bradfield

My life mostly runs on a 32-bit laptop, and will for as long as it continues to function.

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Big mistake, Google. Big mistake: Chrome OS to be 'folded into Android'

Julian Bradfield

Re: One less ...

People have been using "less" in this way since Old English, people including such masters of the tongue as King Alfred - what's 1500 years of usage set against the personal preference of one 18th century grammarian, which is how the whole less/fewer fetish got started.

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Ireland moves to scrap 1 and 2 cent coins

Julian Bradfield

Re: Makes sense

£100 Britannia coins are legal tender, too.

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Android in user-chosen lockscreen patterns are grimly predictable SHOCKER

Julian Bradfield

Yawn. I lock my phone at all (with a simple pattern) solely because it's the only way to stop the damn thing unlocking itself in my pocket. If my phone gets stolen, there are a couple of passwords I need to change as soon as practicable, but that's it. The Google account associated with it contains only my calendar, which is not sensitive.

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Net neutrality: How to spot an arts graduate in a tech debate

Julian Bradfield

Um, "stochastic" means the opposite of "evolves deterministically". It means something that behaves randomly, so that analysis has to be done statistically rather than deterministically.

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You CAN'T jail online pirates for 10 years, legal eagles tell UK govt

Julian Bradfield

Re: Just as a technical aside

Much UK law applies to both Scotland and England (and the other bits). In particularly, copyright law is the same in both. Ever since the Union, UK statutes have said which bits of the UK they apply to.

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Small number of computer-aided rifles could be hacked in contrived scenario

Julian Bradfield

Re: spin drift. (Coriolis Effect?)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jX7dcl_ERNs

demonstrates almost a foot of difference in impact point between shooting east and west at 1000 yards.

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Mozilla flings teddy out of pram over France's 'Patriot Act'

Julian Bradfield

Re: Laws and the public good

Hear, hear! I've always thought that I don't really much care how much the spooks spy illegally in order to do their real job, though for practical reasons I'd rather they focussed on actual targets rather than dragnets - I'm more worried if they're *allowed* to spy, because that means they can then make legitimized use of their observations for political ends beyond protecting us from random Islamists or non-random Russian presidents.

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Low price, big power: Virtual Private Server picks for power nerds

Julian Bradfield

If you want a UK-based outfit with good support, I've been very happy with Bytemark for several years now. The selection in the article seems rather US-biased.

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Trading Standards pokes Amazon over 'libellous' review

Julian Bradfield

Re: The review isn't factually incorrect.

(a) The review is talking about the *default* configuration

(b) The review is talking about the Truecall Care model.

I've checked its manual, and the review is factually incorrect according to the manual.

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How's this for customer service: Comcast calls bloke an A**HOLE – and even puts it in print

Julian Bradfield

The court would quite literally tear them to pieces? Really?

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El Reg Redesign - leave your comment here.

Julian Bradfield

Tend to agree with most of the above. The immediately obvious thing is that it takes up more space for less content, and yet it's harder to distinguish one block from the next. Fixed sidebars are wasteful. Fixed width is always wrong.

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Did rock-hard aliens turn young Earth MOIST? New probe data emerges

Julian Bradfield

Re: Distilled

Because you can just go and read the (very short) article?

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BIGGEST THREAT to Europe’s cybersecurity? Hint: not hackers

Julian Bradfield

The event is biennial, not biannual.

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Particle that behaves like matter AND antimatter found: Majorana fermion

Julian Bradfield

Re: Special? Maybe in some ways

Where do neutrons come into it, fermions though they be?

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Julian Bradfield

Re: Special? Maybe in some ways

The photon and the Higgs boson are, um, bosons. Not fermions. It's Majorana fermions that are interesting.

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Brookhaven boffins boggle at baryons

Julian Bradfield

Your description is rather misleading - it suggests, without quite saying, that strange baryons haven't been observed. It's certain heavier strange baryons, predicted by particular models, that haven't been observed - we've been playing around with strange (Sigma), doubly strange (Xi or Cascade) and triply strange (Omega) baryons for half a century.

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Google's Pankhurst doodle doo-doo shows the perils of using Google to find stuff out

Julian Bradfield

What on earth is your point? June Purvis' biography of Pankhurst also says the birth certificate says the 15th. If you want to argue that the birth certificate is wrong, you should have some actual evidence. As there is none, Wikipedia correctly goes with the evidenced date.

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Angelina Jolie 2.0 NOT an inspiration for Huawei phones, says exec

Julian Bradfield

Re: Correction

As any fule know, honorary knights and dames do not have the title "Sir" or "Dame". You mean:

that's stick-thin-slighty-scary-actress-turned-humanitarian-crusader Angelina Jolie DBE to you.

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London commuter hell will soon include 'one card to rule them all'

Julian Bradfield

Re: Oh dear...

You have to keep a non-trivial sum on it, because they won't let you on unless you have enough to pay for a "reasonable" journey.. The only way to top it up free is with cash or a Dutch bank card. And they want to make it the only means of payment. At present, they have a surcharge for not using it.

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Teen jailed for ARMED ROBBERY says he and pals had been inspired by Grand Theft Auto

Julian Bradfield

The question (when asked by people with half a brain) is not "do video games make people kill people?". The question is "do video games increase, society-wide, the number of people getting killed?". If the answer is "yes", then you ask "how much", and "is it worth it?". Compare guns: the NRA slogan "guns don't kill people, people kill people" is completely correct. Nonetheless, the widespread availability of guns to random idiots appears to significantly increase the number of people who get killed. Thus most of the world restricts availability. Similarly with private use of motor vehicles.

There is a whole bunch of research on whether violent video games tend to make people more violent in reality, and it's not a trivial question.

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95 floors in 43 SECONDS: Hitachi's new ultra-high-speed lift

Julian Bradfield

v^2 = u^2 + 2as is the equation that surfaces from the 35-year old physics lessons.

u = 0, v = 20 m/s, s = 220m, so a = 0.9 m/s^2, or a mere 0.1g.

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Enterprise storage will die just like tape did, say chaps with graphs

Julian Bradfield

just like tape did?

We get articles here every few months pointing out that tape is still going strong, and showing no signs of dying out!

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First Direct 'Secure Keys'

Julian Bradfield

how's the secure code made?

As far as I can see, there's no challenge, just a response. If it's a one time pad, what happens if it gets out of sync? If it's not a one-time pad, what's it doing?

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Earth's night-side gets different kinds of neutrinos from day-side

Julian Bradfield

Andy the Hat: Those who mark A-level Physics can generally read the sign of the reported result correctly.

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The Sun ERUCTATES huge ball of GAS at 4 MILLION MPH

Julian Bradfield

That would be "with *us* puny humans".

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Boffins say D-Wave machine could be a classic*

Julian Bradfield

Re: Church's Thesis

Quantum computers are not more powerful than classical computers in the Turing sense. They are just faster. Church's thesis is still going strong - to break out of it, you need to muck around with black holes or the like.

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If you want an IT job you'll need more than a degree, say top techies

Julian Bradfield

Re: A time machine helps, too.

Modern Unix equivalent: for f in *.x ; do mv $f ${f%x}y ; done

Somewhat easier to read and do, I think...

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Deploying Turing to see if we have free will

Julian Bradfield

Re: As Sir Roger Penrose pointed out years ago

I did read the book. It's unlikely that Penrose knows more about Gödel's theorem than I do - it's not his field, and it is mine. Your (vague) statement of the incompleteness theorem is incorrect, and your `argument' fails in the second line, because we can't see that the Gödel sentence is true - we can only see that either the Gödel sentence is true, or the theory is inconsistent. (The proof of incompleteness takes a theory T, constructs its Gödel sentence G, and then says EITHER G is true (and hence unprovable in T, because G says "G is not provable in T") OR G is false (in which case it is provable in T, and so T is inconsistent). Given any particular theory, we can't tell which of those is the case, because we have no way of determining whether a theory is consistent (except by using a different theory, which we then can't prove consistent...).

The formal statement of the theorem doesn't mention "truth" at all, because can't be pinned down in any reasonably powerful theory. It simply says there is a statement such neither the statement nor its negation can be proved by the theory.

So if you want to argue that humans are more powerful than computers, you need a more refined argument than that.

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Julian Bradfield

Re: As Sir Roger Penrose pointed out years ago

Gawd. There should be a licence required to use the name of Gödel.

Penrose may have been a decent physicist, but as a logician he's what we in the trade call a "crackpot".

The incompleteness theorems say nothing at all about understanding, because understanding is not a mathematical concept. They merely say that any (suitably powerful and well-behaved) mathematical theory has things it can't prove. The incompleteness theorems themselves are NOT things that the system can't prove: they are proved in ordinary logic, and are no harder to understand than many other theorems.

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How to spot a coders comment

Julian Bradfield

XEmacs has lots of vigorous comments, as you would expect from something on which Jamie Zawinski worked. Such as

/* #### urk urk urk!!! Chuck fix this shit! */

and then a few hundred lines later

/* #### Chuck fix this shit or I'm gonna scream! */

The comments are at least 15 years old, and Chuck (who is still around) still hasn't fixed them.

(#### is code for "major screwage that should be fixed for the next release")

There ain't no passive aggression in XEmacs!

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MacBook Air fanbois! Your flash drive may be a data-nuking TIME BOMB

Julian Bradfield

just out of curiosity...

what do you call a female fanboi?

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The importance of complexity

Julian Bradfield

The importance of complexity

In a vigorous discussion about revising courses in a computer science degree, one of my colleagues opined that "every decent programmer is sometime going to come across a task that is NP-hard, so they need to know to tackle NP-hard problems".

I'm curious as to whether anybody on here (who is a programmer after going through a so-called top university's CS degree) has ever been asked to solve a task that is computationally intractable, and if so whether they used the last couple of decades' work on such things to solve it.

Come to that, how many CS graduates ever solve algorithmic problems, rather than systems engineering problems?

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So, Linus Torvalds: Did US spooks demand a backdoor in Linux? 'Yes'

Julian Bradfield

A biased sequence can still be random in some senses. The comment to which you reply is correct: all pseudo-random sequences are deterministic, because that's what the term means: a pseudo-random sequence is an algorithmically produced sequence which passes whatever your favourite statistical tests for randonmess are.

You're correct that non-determinism and randomness are different: in mathematical modelling of systems, a "non-deterministic" choice is one that is not made by the system of interest, but by its environment: e.g. a vending machine has a non-deterministic choice between receiving a "tea" button press and a "coffee" button press, as which one happens depends on the environment (the user). In theory of computation, a non-deterministic algorithm really means one where all possible choices are explored in parallel; or alternatively, you can take a lucky guess as to which choices you should make.

"Random" refers either to statistical properties of a sequence - and such a sequence can be a determined thing, just not determined by any computable function - or to a primitive notion of probability. In the probabilistic case, biased outputs are included: for example, if you generate a sequence of bits every second by seeing whether an atom of uranium has decayed in that second, that sequence is, as far as we know, truly random in every probabilistic sense of "random". The ratio of zeroes to ones, however, depends on how much uranium you have. In the algorithmic case, a biased sequence is not random becase it can be compressed - if the string has ten times as many zeroes as ones, then you can trivially compress it by coding sequences of zeroes, and you'll win - but it can still be a random sequence in the probabilistic sense.

Cryptographers want sequences that are random in both senses.

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Jurors start stretch in the cooler for Facebooking, Googling the accused

Julian Bradfield

standard of proof for contempt

Para 2 of the judgement says "The law in relation to proof of contempt at common law is well settled. First the Attorney General must prove to the criminal standard of proof that the respondent had committed an act or omission calculated to interfere with or prejudice the due administration of justice"

Where does the bootnote statement about it being balance of probabilities come from?

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Angry Birds fire back: Vulture cousins menace UK city's mobiles

Julian Bradfield

perhaps ElReg should buy its contributors dictionaries?

"more paramount", indeed. That's even more nonsensical than "more unique".

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Ahoy! Google asks US gov't to help sink patent 'privateers'

Julian Bradfield

Re: Is there another side?

Sigh. Apple did not file for a patent on rounded corners. It filed a registered design (in European terms, or a design patent in US terms) which is very different from a patent. It included seven characteristic features of the design, of which rounded corners formed one. The case was about whether Samsung's phone, *as a whole*, had been designed to look like Apple's registered design.

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