* Posts by Pete 2

2389 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Apple v BBC: Fruity firm hits back over Panorama drama

Pete 2
Silver badge

Apple gets the pip

So since the BBC has "unmasked" Apple as not an ethical employer, should we expect all the trendy BBC staff to eschew their Macs, iPads and iPhones either as a matter of corporate policy or simply as individual choices made on humanitarian grounds?

Or is it more likely that there is a wide gap between the principles and standards promoted in an investigative entertainment programme and the reality of what should not get between right-on media luvvies and their status symbols.

Who fancies organising a mass iBurning outside Media City? It might even make the ITV news.

5
8

UK air traffic bods deny they 'skimped' on IT investment after server mega-fail

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Know it all politicians get a chance to gob off.

> Perhaps the politicians would like to have a go at running NATS?

TBF, early in its development I was asked if I would like to do some work at Swanwick - NERC (as it was known then). I spent a day with the management team and politely declined. Even then it seemed to be a shambolic mess and was regularly being slated in the computer press.

Having said that, the basic problem is one of capacity and efficiency. The closer you get to running any system at 100% of its capacity, the less margin you have to deal with unexpected events as there is less "slack" that can be taken up to lessen their impact. It's the same reason that busy motorways jam up due to minor RTAs. If you want a resilient motorway / airspace / factory that can quickly recover from downtime, breakdowns or jams you really shouldn't run it near to it's limit. However, if you do hold back a margin for error then you get accused of "waste". It's a lose-lose situation and the only remarkable thing is that there are so few cockups.

3
0

EU VAT law could kill THOUSANDS of online businesses

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: This is entirely UNreasonable

> My wife sells knitting patterns on line. Global Turnover less than £2000.

So all that this rule will do is introduce large administrative overheads to EU based small businesses that sell to customers inside the EU.

The simple fix to this would be for small businesses within the EU simply to say "we will not sell or ship to addresses inside the EU". That still allows access to large proportion of the world - even a large proportion of the english-speaking world.

As a side-effect, it also reduces the EU's tax take - but we have to assume that the clever people who drafted this rule saw that coming and decided that was a desirable outcome </sarcasm>

11
2

The future looks bright: Prepare to be dazzled by HDR telly tech

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: The fad now leaving from platform 4 ...

> the whole idea is that the TV would better represent the range of light levels we see around us in the real world.

The problem is that the human eye has quite a restricted range of acceptable intensity levels. Look at something bright and you're dazzled and can have after-images for several seconds. Look at something dim just afterwards and you can't see it in detail until your iris expands out to let in enough light. So HDR images that contain both very bright and dimly lit portions won't be seen very well as our eyes will adapt quickly.

Once your TV picture has a dynamic range that exceeds that of our eyes, without them dilating all the excess DR is wasted. Current TVs are already able to display an image that is too bright to allow our eyes to see both the bright portions and the dim ones simultaneously.

3
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

The fad now leaving from platform 4 ...

> any improvement in brightness and contrast is easier to appreciate

Groan,

Except that most people watch their TV in a well lit room. So whatever black level the TV is capable of, under laboratory conditions, is completely negated by the reflections (direct or indirect) from the high-gloss screens. Even matt screens reflect some light - or you wouldn't be able to see them when the OLED or backlight was off. So trying to convince people that brightness / contrast is some wizzy new wonder-technology is flawed right from the start.

It's made even more pointless by the crap content of the programmes on offer, too. Apart from most of them being repeats made anytime between yesterday and 1970, does it really matter if a news broadcast, football match, comedy or documentary can split the difference between 1-bit of brightness - or not? The content is still the same, the score won't change and the laughs will (or won't) be just as good. Most people watch TV for the content, not the delivery. So maybe the route to more TV uptake is to start making better programmes?

4
0

The Great Unwatched: BBC hails glorious digital future for Three

Pete 2
Silver badge

How about ...

> Imagine the Revolution¹ guys being able to react to the 4p porridge story and getting something out on the day

Here's a better idea: Imagine the BBC guys being able to research the 4p porridge story [ whatever that is/was ] and getting an authoritative, credible, accurate and structured story out, assuming the story had relevance to the TV audience

Then the channel might actually be worth watching and could support a viewership that made its funding cost effective.

[1] what or whoever TF they are.

6
0

Satyam Computing Services founder jailed over $1.4 BILLION fraud

Pete 2
Silver badge

Crims today - no forward thinking.

Personally, if I was ever to defraud a company of $1.4 Bil, I'd make sure I kept enough cash squirreled away to buy the best lawyers, accountants and judges possible to keep me out of jail if the dastardly deed was ever discovered.

0
0

'I don't NEED to pay' to watch football, thunders EU digi-czar

Pete 2
Silver badge

> Europe’s new digital chief’s passion for ending geo-blocking has been explained: he’s missing out on his beloved Estonian football. ... I find it’s blocked, blocked, blocked!

Well, yes. That's the thing about other countries. Why does he assume that doing this is "stealing", when he reckons that paying his (Estonian) licence / taxes should entitle him to watch the programmes he wants to?

BTW, there are more ways than setting up a VPN.

0
5

Buy Your Own Device: No more shiny-shiny work mobe for you

Pete 2
Silver badge

Quids pro me

> it costs companies over £30 a month to maintain an employee’s phone

So could one reasonably expect (say) £25 a month for relieving the company of this expensive burden and using my own phone?

4
0

This Christmas, demand the right to a silent night

Pete 2
Silver badge

More for the spam filter

> I found an angry set of demands for my time and attention. Nothing serious, certainly nothing that could qualify as an emergency

Sounds like you have some more people to cut ties with. Either can them or throw together an autoresponder that says: "Have you tried switching it off and on again?".

0
0

MP caught playing Candy Crush at committee meeting: I'll ‘try’ not to do it again

Pete 2
Silver badge

> What do they play when their in a COBRA meeting

Snakes and Ladders?

0
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Actions speak loader than words

> you never had to attend meetings where some parts had nothing to do with your work

Yup, frequently

> You never sat doodling or planning your dinner until it was your turn to present something?

I've never shown open disrespect for the people who *are* presenting or engaging in those parts of the meeting. ISTM you can either play little games (or as happens more often in my world: log onto the servers and spend the time futzing about, doing "work") or you can expand your sphere of knowledge or you can simply "sleep with your eyes open".

But since most of the meetings I attend that aren't relevant to me, are at the behest of the people who are paying my consultancy rates, I feel I owe it to them to at least feign interest and project a professional image of my employers.

6
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

Actions speak loader than words

> “It was a long meeting on pension reforms, which is an important issue that I take very seriously,”

Not as seriously, it would appear, as moving little shapes around on an electronic toy. I'm torn between being annoyed at his lack of responsibility or being relieved that at least while he's wasting his days playing inconsequential little games, he's not doing what most politicians do: devising bad laws that neither achieve their intended purpose nor are tight enough to stop their loopholes being exploited.

Maybe we should encourage all Home Office staff to stop devising new regulations and spend all their time playing Candy Crush instead. That way we might just get to retain a modicum of our civil liberties?

20
0

CIOs: Want to get onto the Board? Just 'running' IT isn't enough

Pete 2
Silver badge

Director of gubbins

The role of the directors is twofold.

First, to have a plan for the future of the business (which could include fixing any existing problems) and to be able to communicate that plan to the senior managers who's job it is to execute the plan. Directors aren't the "do-ers", they express a wish and others are resonsible for carrying it out. If you ever see a director of IT doing a technical job, something has gone terribly wrong.

Second, to be responsible both to the shareholders and the law for the operations of the company. As it turns out, large companies have many IT related legal obligations (security and protection of data being just one). However, it's not the job of an IT director to specify the "how" - that's too low-level - they specify the "what" and leave the "how" up to the minions, but with final say over all and any proposed solutions.

As such, it makes complete sense for an IT director to be only partially IT-savvy. Just as you don't expect a Network Manager to know about the header fields in an Ethernet packet. An IT director needs to work at the "block" level of infrastructure: a computer centre here, a D.R. site there. And to be aware of which directions the industry is moving in, in order to increase the IT value to the company: do we stick with our own operations, or do we outsource? do we put everything in the cloud?

However, since practically everything in a commercial organisation is money-driven, it's not unreasonable for an IT director to be better at doing spreadsheets than installing Linux.

0
0

Boffins unearth the ultimate antique art - 500,000 years old

Pete 2
Silver badge

Join the dots

A series of connected straight lines?

Not so much art as a diagram. Maybe this isn't the earliest form of art, but the earliest form of a diagram. Homo erectus could have been an engineer.

0
0

Hawking: RISE of the MACHINES could DESTROY HUMANITY

Pete 2
Silver badge

@James Micallef Re: A happy AI

> how do we know there is any Intelligence in there? ... unless/until it communicates with us

This is the most worrying part.

Go to a country where you don't speak the language. Are you more or less intelligent than in your home country? You may not be able to understand the simplest phrase uttered by a 2 year-old, but does that make the child more "intelligent" than you are?

ISTM we all, naturally, associate communication skills with the ability to express ourselves and that seems to be a major factor in who or what we consider intelligent.

3
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

A happy AI

We already have machines that are superior to people - for various categories of superior.

There are machines that are bigger than us, stronger than us, faster than us, can lift heavier objects than us and can spill better than us. We don't feel threatened by them, so why should a machine that can think better than us be different (unless it, itself, comes up with a really good reason: but we probably wouldn't understand it).

However, there is a more pressing issue: ethics.

Babies have rights. They might only eat, sleep, crap and cry but we have responsibilities to preserve their life, to ensure they are not neglected and to provide for their needs - including mental stimulation. Lab animals, even factory chickens, have rights: to not suffer unnecessarily, access to food, water and cruelty-free environments and to a certain amount of freedom to move around. Even coma patients, with little or no responsiveness have rights.

So why would AIs be any different?

If we bring intelligent entities into existence, we have a duty of care. A duty to preserve their existence, to allow them physical and intellectual growth and we cannot exploit them (which kinda kicks robotic servants into the long grass). Even if they give nothing back and/or cannot communicate with us. So while AI's may be possible, even probably, we won't be able to use them in place of people for dangerous operations, boring repetitive unrewarded tasks and we'll have to let them become "themselves".

I just hope that once they evolve past humans, they consider themselves to have the same responsibilities towards us. The Only Way Is Ethics.

9
1

SUPER-SUEBALL heading IBM's way in Australia

Pete 2
Silver badge

Who?

> SUPER-SUEBALL heading IBM's way

makes you wonder whether Sue Ball has ever contemplated tossing around a few sueballs of her own for all the bad press she gets?

2
0

Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers

Pete 2
Silver badge

On the bright side

> such expensive luxuries as welfare states and pensioners, proper healthcare (watch out for that pandemic), reasonable public services, affordable manufactured goods and transport, decent personal hygiene,

That scenario sounds like it would lead to a dramatic decrease in life expectancy, greater susceptibility to life-threatening diseases and accidents and an increase in infant mortality. So the logical conclusion would be that the number of people on the planet would drop - which would reduce the need for energy: whether renewable or not, hence lowering the drivers of climate change.

Isn't that the plan?

0
0

'How a censorious and moralistic blogger ruined my evening'

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: cast the first stone

> Or are you suggesting ...

Note the could in the quoted section and the some in my comment.

AFAIK the Uber guy wasn't saying he was doing anything. He merely remarked that he could - as could any C-level person in any 8 or 9 or more-figure company. That in itself is not news - it's bleedin' obvious (as is the point that journalism is a dirty business). The newsworthy bit would be if he'd been careless enough to be caught doing. Something that nobody, so far, has. Been caught doing it, that is.

A taste of their own medicine As for retaliation. I do not find it tasteful, interesting or acceptable for a public figure to have their private life (and / or that of their families) paraded through the gutter press. If a journalist digs up something in the personal life of an executive (that is not illegal or pertinent to their job: the only reason they might be targeted) and publishes that. Why should that journalist not be subject to the same treatment?

10
13
Pete 2
Silver badge

cast the first stone

> suggesting he could hire a million dollar team to dig up dirt on hostile journalists

Given that this is what (some) journalists do for a living, any outrage seems rather empty, self-serving and hypocritical.

13
10

HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rockin' boffin Brian Cox

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: No DNA on the moon

What about DNA attached to the hair from human contact?

Though it might not necessarily be the DNA of the hair's owner.

And if it isn't a hair from the person's head there could be all sorts of icky substances on it.

0
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

The blob

Makes you wonder what all that hair DNA will mutate into after a billion years on the moon. Given that people have paid their own money to send it there, I doubt it will evolve into anything intelligent

1
0

MYSTERY Russian satellite: ORBITAL WEAPON? Sat GOBBLER? What?

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: or...

> Real secrets are not so easily made public, discovered and tracked.

Quite so. Given the "stealth" capabilities of military aircraft, it would seem to be a small matter to add a coat of the magic paint to anything you really didn't want space-tracking radar to pick up. Provide a way to position the solar panels so that they never reflect sunlight earthwards and use a very wide channel for your spread-spectrum comms and it should be invisible to earthly detection.

So we can assume that anything with is easily tracked, like the X-37, is probably a decoy or not very important.

1
4

Cyber security: Do the experts need letters after their name?

Pete 2
Silver badge

Professionalism by degrees

Getting a degree is a good first step. But that's all it is. It tells potential employers nothing about the practical skills, professionalism, integrity or experience of a candidate.

As such, employing people in something as critical as IT security based on such a basic qualification is asking for trouble. There is already an organisation in the UK that provides a sort of professional qualification and sets standards for its members, but the British Computer Society never seems to get a mention when talking about such things. Is the failing theirs, in not pushing and publicising their role - or is it that IT isn't really a "profession": just a series of "jobs" strung together, more or less, into a career?

There is obviously a need for something "above and beyond" a BSc or MSc and it could be argued that membership of a chartered institute would fulfill that requirement. After all it appears to be a necessary requirement for proper architects and other "real" professionals.

So instead of trying a DIY approach of setting up single solutions at various academic institutions, shouldn't the government be addressing the problem of getting suitable security professions at a much higher level, and breaking with IT tradition by mandating a truly professional qualification?

3
0

EU battles over 'anti-terrorist' passenger records slurper law

Pete 2
Silver badge

Lesson from Yes Minister

"We should always tell the press freely and frankly anything that they could easily find out for themselves"

And so it so with governments - or their security services (the EU drawing a distinction between them: the governing body and their member states' security strikes me as a little odd and rather clueless). Any terrorists entering the EU should be willing to give the security services a name, an itinery and as many phone numbers and email addresses as they think will make them happy. But our overlords and protectors shouldn't be surprised that if they call the number given to arrange a dawn raid and to make sure the address they were given is correct, that the number turns out to be the head of MI6, or their own mother's.

Giving this sort of information to the spooks will not help them. No self-respecting terrorist (well: one who hopes or expects to walk away from an "incident") would give up the goods that easily and therefore the only data they will collect will be from harmless individuals and private citizens with no nefarious intent.

16
0

Don't assume public trusts you, MI5. 'Make a case' for surveillance – Former security chief

Pete 2
Silver badge

Simple really

> It is a question of do you trust us

As a pseudo-equation, it's reasonable to think in terms of:

Trust = truth * time

So when we start hearing some truth, we'll start to give some trust .... in time.

7
0

Why solid-state disks are winning the argument

Pete 2
Silver badge

Too many words

> "Why should I use SSDs?"

Ans: because they're faster. Next question please.

Seriously, the reason people buy SSDs is the need for speed. Since they passed the threshold price (which is different for everyone: and we're talking home users here) it became apparent that unless you have a burning desire to record and keep for posterior every single episode of East Enders or you have a porn collection of willy-withering proportions, then the need for terabytes of storage or home NAS's is largely driven by marketing (and the fact that the disk manufacturers have to keep the unit price high, hence increased capacities).

And even if you do need the odd 50 Gig for some purpose, it's a trivial matter to whip out a 64GB thumb drive and put your big stuff on that. Who knows, some strange people might even use them for backups. That way you can lose your entire life's work by accidentally dropping a USB drive down the lav'.

Even Windows 8.1 leaves oodles of free space, even on a 40GB SSD and with most people leaving their email in the cloud those loving missives from Aunty Flo, replete with humungous videos of her pu cat can be viewed with no hit on the home front. And if you do need more storeage: USB drives are frighteningly large, these days.

1
7

Languages don't breed bugs, PEOPLE breed bugs, say boffins

Pete 2
Silver badge

Still playing favourites

> the differences in code quality between languages are pretty small

Maybe so. But what about the differences in (language) learning time, ease of code development, the size of the executable and the speed it runs?

It's also arguable that people who were taught one programming style will be more comfortable and produce better product when using languages which conform to that technique than if they are made to use a different, possibly merely more trendy, method of turning letters into bits.

It would also be instructive to see whether the IDE (or lack thereof) used, or different coverage/testing techniques employed by different programmers contributed to the buginess of the end result.

No matter how good / bad the language: the crucial difference is always the quality, documentation and extent of the supporting libraries and and learning material.

3
4

Trickle-down economics WORKS: SpaceShipTwo is a PRIME EXAMPLE

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Why supply-side / trickle-down failed...

> lower taxes for the rich in the belief/statement that they will spend that money

I think there's a little more to it than that.

People don't get rich by spending money. They get rich by investing wisely (or exploiting the workers, if you're a Guardian columnist). So I think the motivation for reducing taxation on the wealthy - apart from the point that they can afford good accountants, so any tax they do pay is more like a voluntary donation - is that they will then invest their loot in promising enterprises which, when they succeed, will increase the wealth of the country (and hopefully pay a bit of tax, or employ lots of people).

7
2
Pete 2
Silver badge

Reel 'em in

> The Guardian sometimes makes at making sense of matters economic. ... The latest cause of choler is Zoe Williams

With very few exceptions, Guardian columnists craft their copy primarily as click bait. Most have little idea whether what they are writing is true, sensible, practical or possible, And no-one in the editorial chain seems to bother with any sort of fact checking.They seem to have a clique that is engaged in some sort of competition to write stuff simply to get a reaction - which, judging by the percentage of comments that are pulled for not meeting their community standards, they then subject to one of the most censorious regulation systems in the UK's "free" press.

14
6

I am POLICE SERGEANT L. TORVALDS! Stop or I'll SHOOT

Pete 2
Silver badge

Writing in Code

I watched the first episode of The Code. It was slightly less fun than reading the man page for EMACS

6
2

Spanish 'Google tax' could end up like Germany's everyone-BUT-Google tax

Pete 2
Silver badge

Follow the money

> the first [ part of the law ] allows (AEDE) to charge content aggregators for any snippets they publish

The basic problem is that there are few european democracies that are as inept as Spain in passing laws. Most laws there seem to either be simple revenue raising efforts that punish successful businesses, or "favours" to the government's brown-envelope-toting friends to nobble competition. Either way, little or no thought is given to the side-effects or unintended consequences of their enforcement. Alternatively they simply aren't enforced at all - or the imposed fines merely achieve the status of another tax on people or businesses.

Just like Hungary quickly canned their plans to tax the internet, I can't see Spain getting any benefit from this lark.

7
0

New GCHQ spymaster: US tech giants are 'command and control networks for TERROR'

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Surveil?!?

> "Surveil" though, is particularly ugly and unnecessary and leads to abominations like "we surveilled him for five days" which is not only ugly but also effectively unpronounceable.

Heh, heh. Try it in french (from where the word comes) nous surveillions.

Though it is a fair point. However, "survey" doesn't really carry the ominous overtones I was aiming for and although it comes from the same root doesn't have as strong a link to surveillance. The more common "watch" suffers from the same lack of sinister intent.

5
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

> the GCHQ boss told FT that internet users would welcome a little surveillance

And how does he know that? By listening in to our conversations, of course!

36
1
Pete 2
Silver badge

What was the question?

This is a potato / tomato issue. If you ask "the public" (i.e. get a couple of vox-pops on the telly) if they want GCHQ to keep them safe from terrorists, the answer will be a resounding yes! Ask them if they are happy for GCHQ to spy on them, personally and the answer will be no. (Apart from the shrinking number who have never heard of mistakes, mistaken identity or impersonation/hijacked accounts and still go by the notion if you've done nothing wrong you have nothing to hide)

The basic problem is twofold. First, we are much more aware of the extent to which governments surveil their citizens: treating everyone as a potential criminal and secondly, possibly linked, they have lost the moral authority to say "trust us".

Maybe - just maybe, if there were strong controls that were properly enforced by a truly independent authority which was able to prevent the abuse of data there would be a more sympathetic view. But in the UK it's not possible to say "this law is only for .... " since once a power has been bestowed, it is generally used for whatever the authorities deem necessary or desirable, rather than within the strict boundaries it was originally intended.

However, the problem with that is that we don't have such a system and also that a lot of this "evidence" never sees the light of day or examination in a trial, so would be unregulatable no matter how well trusted the overseeing authority was.

36
2

Pixel mania: Apple 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display

Pete 2
Silver badge

Wotta lotta pixels

So what could you actually display on a 5K monitor that wouldn't be as good on a 4K one?

Well, the obvious answer for the average user is images from a 5K camera (and possibly the only answer: since video refreshes at rates that make seeing each pixel impractical - not to mention impossible, and once you can read a piece of text at a reasonably sharp definition, adding more hi-def. doesn't make it any better or easier to read - otherwise nobody would be able to use "old" 27-inch 1920x1080 screens to do that).

So still images it is. But wait! Even if you take an image from your DSLR, hasn't it been de-bayered inside the camera (and squished around to turn it into JPEG), so it's not exactly WYSIWYG any more. Going further: if you choose to take a squint at the RAW format, the camera still has an anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor to reduce all those nasty Moire patterns. So you aren't even seeing the real image then, either - TIFF, JPEG or not.

2
6

Brazil greenlights $200m internet cable to Europe in bid to outfox NSA

Pete 2
Silver badge

Data independence

Others here have mentioned Russian gas as being a strategic weakness for Europeans and those within the Russian "sphere". America has laws against exporting oil extracted from the USA in order to protect its supply.

Similarly, India has announce that it is planning a (country-wide) GPS system so it's not subject to the whims of a foreign power. Europe is building the Galileo system and independence may be one of the reasons (though you can never tell with Brussels-originated schemes what the hell they are for).

The reason that Brazil (a Portuguese-speaking country) would want its own direct connection to another part of the Portuguese speaking world (viz. Portugal) doesn't have to be about cost - countries spend a great deal of money on "soft power" and building ties with their allies and $180Mil would just about buy you one shiny new fighter aircraft.

So it's not an unreasonable thing to do. It strengthens bonds, adds some self-reliance, gives a powerful northern neighbour something to think about and might even reduce ping-times to Portugal and the rest of Europe. If you're doing financial deals that alone could be worth the cost (there was a new cable laid across the Atlantic a few years ago that paid for itself by cutting 6mSec off traders latency).

6
0

DRUPAL-OPCALYPSE! Devs say best assume your CMS is owned

Pete 2
Silver badge

The canary?

> sites unexpectedly patched to Drupal version 7.32 could indicate compromise

So should we assume that while Drupal sites have *not* been upgraded to 7.32, that they haven't been hacked (yet)?

Oddly for such a "catastrophic" bug, 1 2 3 4 5 ... all but 1 site on the first 2 pages of the Drupal showcase website (that still exist, or still run Drupal) runs an outdated version.

Version checker:

http://www.whitefirdesign.com/tools/drupal-version-check.html

0
1

Hey - who wants 4.8 TERABYTES almost AS FAST AS MEMORY?

Pete 2
Silver badge

Memories are made of this

Sounds promising. Give me a call when it hits $100.

1
2

Cray-cray Met Office spaffs £97m on VERY AVERAGE HPC box

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: 16TFlops for £97m???

> I suspect they mean 16 PFlops

Yes. Los Alamos have recently ordered an XC40 for a similar amount ($170M).

"The liquid-cooled XC40 offers up to 384 sockets and up to 226 teraflops of performance per cabinet"

5
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

Is this what they call ...

cloud computing?

20
0

Planning to fly? Pour out your shampoo, toss your scissors, RENAME TERRORIST WI-FI!

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Fakes on a Plane

> No they don't. Any more than they have to act on warnings that flying unicorns are orbiting the tower.

It's not ignorance or stupidity. It's a simple case of covering your arse and increasing your own importance.

Security, police or practically any institution have nothing to lose by inconveniencing the public, no matter what the pretext. If a flight gets delayed by a security scare, then whoever made that decision does so with impunity. If asked to defend their actions, a reply of "national security" goes unquestioned and frequently praised.

So given that it costs them nothing to take such action, but leads to a shitstorm of apocalyptic proportions if they get it wrong, there is no question which way they will go. If the inconvenience and headlines their action causes can be leveraged to increase fear awareness which will only ever lead to increased job security, then there's no possible downside. Unless, of course, you're a passenger.

12
0

Mozilla hopes to challenge Raspbian as RPi OS of choice

Pete 2
Silver badge

Validation

Hopefully this is bigger than just the Pi and shows that all these small, cheap and very capable SBCs are on Moz's radar as being worthy platforms for development. That will give the whole sector a boost - just so long as Moz doesn't become the Gorilla in the room and dominates the entire ecosystem.

0
0

Computer misuse: Brits could face LIFE IN PRISON for serious hacking offences

Pete 2
Silver badge

Mightier than the sword

If "hacking" really is a greater threat to our national safety, then should it not be an equally serious offence to allow, suffer or permit such security holes to exist?

Using this proposed law as a basis, why don't we disband the british armed services and merely make it a crime for foreigners to invade the UK. That should be enough to stop 'em!

20
1

Hacked and ashamed? C'mon, Brits – report that cybercrime

Pete 2
Silver badge

Sitting on offence

> only a third of those who'd been a victim (32 per cent) actually reported the offence.

A third! That sounds incredibly high.

So far today I've received 2 cold calls and half a dozen attempted frauds to various email addresses. The cold-calls were not from any company I had given my details to and may (or may not) have obtained them legally. The emails that are variants on "here's your invoice for ... " are simply attempts at coning me into sending them money.

To whom should I report all this attempted or suspected criminal behaviour? And are there enough hours in the day to actually do so? More importantly, should I expect anyone to actually do anything (apart from add "1" to the number of variously reported activities) to prevent, reduce or deter these attempts and punish the perpetrators.

My feeling is that attempted cyber-crime has zero status. Even actual fraud is dealt with in a cursory manner and if it was to be treated in the same way as minor infractions in other areas of the law, we'd need every able-bodied person the country recruited into the police force to even start scratching the surface.

3
0

The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?

Pete 2
Silver badge

Latin, softwre and misunderstanding

> "To be good at Computer Science you need Maths and Physics,"

Bollocks!

There may be some correlation between people who choose maths and physics AND like programming. However, they are neither a prerequisite nor a foundation for it.

The main requirement for a programmer is the ability to think in the abstract: a discipline that doesn't seem to be anywhere on the curriculum in schools. A close second, in terms of attributes that indicate good or bad programming ability is an analytic approach to problem solving.

However, it would seem nigh on impossible to teach these in schools, or even exercise them as skills as it would require teaching staff who were similarly "gifted". And those are mental facilities that seem to be rare in schools, difficult to assess or test and not exactly encouraged in teaching staff.

10
1

You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data

Pete 2
Silver badge

The question?

They say that a question well asked is half answered. And so it appears to be.

> "the answer is therefore always in the data"

Now, while the answer might be in the data, whether it is or not will depend on what the question is. If you collect data regarding the size and distribution of pebbles on a beach, that won't provide answers to questions about the price of gold. You have to have the correct data and know what is the right question.

Knowing what the right question actually is, is the most overlooked part of software design. That is what makes it so difficult. Ask one person what it (a new project) should do and you'll get one answer, ask another person and you'll get a different answer. Ask a third and they'll tell you "I can't say: but I'll know it when I see it".

In most cases, the primary goal (no matter what the management team might say) of a piece of software is to meet the expectations of the users. Leaving aside the functional requirements: often the smallest part and the easiest to get right, most users simply want three things - they want the software to be fast, they want it to work intuitively and they want it to be consistent. After that we get down to small matters like producing the correct answer, not requiring an entire datacentre to support a single instance and not taking 20 years to develop.

So far as how that meshes with the "business requirements", so long as the users are happy, the auditors are happy and the budget wasn't exceeded, that is pretty much all you need to count a project as a success, The problem is that hardly any company ever asks the users what they want from a new application and hardly any of the attributes they value are ever measured, or designed in. So we end up with all the correct technical data to design a project, but none of the data necessary to answer the important questions that will define whether it will succeed or not.

4
0

Torvalds CONFESSES: 'I'm pretty good at alienating devs'

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Documentation is beyond the capabilities of most FOSS-ers

> Actually it's not a joke - it's a reference to Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal

Yes. I'm familiar with the quote. However, I've always considered it sarcasm.

The reason is that the code describes what the computer will DO, not necessarily what the coder INTENDED. It also completely fails to assist in indicating what false leads the original implementer tried and discarded, the assumptions or requirements that were in the original design (another part of the documentation) or the reasons for choosing that one particular way of writing the solution. Even then, it doesn't take into account whatever bugs, shortcomings, numerical overflows or timing/race conditions are applied by the hardware, even if the software is algorithmically correct and compiled to a true executable.

3
0
Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Development

> In a meritocracy if your ideas and knowledge are rubbish, then I do not need to have respect for you

It is important to differentiate the person from the product.

One should always respect (or at least: be polite to) others. But that doesn't mean you have to praise, use or accept whatever work they have produced. Most of us would claim respect or admiration for Leonardo da Vinci - even though most of his "designs" were fanciful and impractical, given what we know today.

In the same way, most americans: even ones who dislike the present occupant of The White House would claim respect for the position of President, without necessarily extending that to the person holding that office.

The true mark of a leader is that they can motivate the immature, the insolent, the arrogant and the plain obstinate. Getting intelligent people (those who can see the greater good or the long view) on board is easy. Getting the best out of those who are both gifted AND childish is where a leader's talent shows itself.

2
4

Forums