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* Posts by Charles Manning

2599 posts • joined 26 Jun 2007

Number crunching suggests Yahoo! US is worth less than nothing

Charles Manning
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Marrissa has worked pretty hard

Yes, she might be pretty, and that likely has helped Yahoo shares through the "good looking CEO effect" :http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/10549340/Study-finds-beautiful-CEOs-boost-stock-prices.html

But any pretty hard work she has done seems to have been directed at killing off Y!, not just tilting it 9 degrees.

She killed off the the last few things that the few remaining talented employees valued: telecommuning etc. Now "I work at Yahoo!" is a euphemism for "I'm too too crap to get a job at Google/Apple/whatever.

Without underlying talent and strategy, that stock price will bleed, no matter how cute the CEO is.

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Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'

Charles Manning
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Re: The russian record != the record

"Inexplicably, many Russians of a certain age miss Stalin."

Not inexplicable at all... you just explained why!

Many of the people who fall through the cracks in post-communist USSR miss the comfort and certainty of the old system where they would have had a crappy job, but at least a job, and knew there wasa powerful force setting the agenda.

Prisoners face the same issues on leaving prison, soldiers feel it when they leave the military. Many black people in South Africa even pine for apartheid.

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Leaked pics show EMBIGGENED iPhone 6 screen

Charles Manning
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What's this Chinternet thing?

Is this supposed to be some slur on the credibility along the lines of:

"I'll only believe this when it gets posted on the Real NSA-monitored American DARPA Internet."

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MIT boffins moot tsunami-proof floating nuke power plants

Charles Manning
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And when the Greens get pissy...

Just tow the whole power station to France.

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Did you know Twitter has a 'consumer product division'? Ex-Google Maps boss now runs it

Charles Manning
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Add a Google Boss

Marissa changed the angle of the !

Perhaps Twitter will move a feather of two.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS

Charles Manning
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Re: iSuppli estimates

"The same is true in any hardware company. ". Nope, you are wrong.

I've been in the embedded systems industry for 30 years, of which I worked for a year at Apple.

Engineering is the art of compromise. Many of those compromises are things like speed vs amount of RAM, cost of FPGA vs cost of microcontroller. Engineers need this info to make good design trade-offs.

Most companies share this information within the company so that engineers can use it in their decision making.

Not Apple. People with very real reasons to have access to numbers, even ballpark numbers, don't get them.

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Charles Manning
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iSuppli estimates

These are a bit of a joke.

Within Apple, almost nobody knows what they pay for parts. This is super secret info. If there are more than 5 people in Apple who know what the iphone BOM cost is, I would be suprised.

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Borked Bitcoin bunker MtGox in administration: Lawyer seizes control

Charles Manning
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Value

"The actual value of a Bitcoin is the amount of 'leccy used to obtain it. "

Err, no!

The value is only what someone is prepared to pay for it. The leccy cost just sets a point at which it is no longer economically feasible to mine them. The myth seems to exist that that value is linked to the energy required to generate it, but that is not so.

To use od economics: the leccy is Cost Of Good Sold (COGS). When you can sell something above that, you make a profit. When you sell something below that, you make a loss.

There are numerous unprofitable companies selling product below COGS. They tend to go broke and go out of business.

Bitcoin is a fantastic wheeze, COGS starts off tiny (virtually zero) and gets more. As a result, we're about half way through the BC number space and the COGS has gone up to $500. That means the people that kicked off the whole game:

a) risked almost nothing

b) made a stonking profit if it took off.

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Intel sees 'signs of improvement in the PC business' but earnings remain 'Meh...'

Charles Manning
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Intel IoT

One looks at the IoT numbers and wonder how they could have made such good numbers on their Quark processors etc.

Digging a bit deeper though, Intel's IoT business unit is pretty broad based: server side stuff, analytics and their quarks and atoms.

If IoT really ever takes off, Intel's end-point offering (quarks and Atoms) will never really do anything useful because they are too damn expensive and Intel has dropped the embedded industry in the poo so many times that nobody with sense buys embedded silicon from them.

Their servers and analytics might do OK, so long as they invest in some companies that provide more services and infrastructure.

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Be prepared... for your Scouts-loving sprog to become tiny spin doctor

Charles Manning
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Scouting has always been spin-doctoring

When BP started scouting, it was spinning the Empire, Clean Living, Christianity, etc.

Now it is spinning for the other side: being a good greenie, being racially inclusive, etc.

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Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment

Charles Manning
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"Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment"

If nothing is going to change then what's the point of having her?

You only add people to management. board - or even as regular employees - if they are going to somehow add value and change something. People that don't bring something to the table are not worth having.

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Charles Manning
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What does she actually bring to the table?

Sure, the press release throws out some buzzwords, but how can a war mongering security czar really help the company?

That she was National Security Adviser for 5 years - the initials and functional overlap with National Security Agency being clear - cannot be a bright PR move.

This must surely be an epic own-goal - worse than the whole Eich Prop 8 fiasco.

I am very much a Drop box freetard fan... will have to investigate alternatives.

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Over half of software developers think they'll be millionaires – study

Charles Manning
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Getting to be a millionaire

A millionaire is someone who has a net worth of 1 million $CURRENCY. Let's make that easy-ish by using USD rather than GBP.

You get there when house + bank balance + cars + savings == 1M.

A reasonably talented programmer can earn $100k USD without much sweat. Save 10% of that in reasonable mutual funds etc and you will get there easily.

If you splash it around and live a high-expenditure lifestyle that does not build long-term assets, the chances are you won't.

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Facebook wants to Zuck up your cash into its mobile payment service

Charles Manning
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What can possibly go wrong?

He knows your name.

He knows who your friends are.

He knows your buying habits.

He knows how much money you have.

With all this info, and absolutely no scruples, you're going to receive targeted advertising campaigns designed specifically to get the money out of your account.

service [ser-vis]: verb

1. to supply with aid, information, or other incidental services

2.. (of a male animal) to mate with (a female animal)

Given the BItches statement, clearly the second definition is what Zudkerlad is after.

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Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report

Charles Manning
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False feeling of control

The NSA just asked permission to give Obama the false feeling he was in control.

They didn't really care what he said, they would do - and continue to do - anything they want to.

Did NSA ask permission to spy on Merkel? Perhaps. Did he give permission? Perhaps. But at the end of the day it would not really influence what they actually did - just whether they told Obama about it later.

As far as NSA is concerned, everyone outside the NSA is the enemy. Likely the NSA spy on Obama too.

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NSA denies it knew about and USED Heartbleed encryption flaw for TWO YEARS

Charles Manning
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Re: Protect?

s/the rich/itself/

If you think the NSA acts on the whims Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or Prez Obama, you'd be severely wrong. The NSA will have eprobes into these people's lives.

NSA has become like the KGB of old - completely above the law and any government oversight. They become paranoid: anyone outside the organisation becomes the enemy.

Obama thinks he can reign them in with strict guidelines etc, but he is wrong.

The only way the NSA can be managed is to shut them down, investigate the hell out of them, and criminally presecute those that have not done. Half measure won't do it.

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France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours

Charles Manning
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Draconian

These days small companies need to be agile and respond to global clients and perform tasks at all hours of the day.

* I sometimes have conference calls at 3am local time because we're sorting out an issue with a client on the other side of the planet.

* I used to work with a global company with development teams spread across Europe, USA and NZ. We would have to sometimes do stuff late/early just to get overlap.

* What about trade shows etc?

* What if you're travelling and need some office flunky to sort something out so you can make a connecting flight etc?

Legal decrees are excessive and obstructive to business. When that happens, jobs go away and economies suffer.

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Apple to flush '£37bn' down the bog if it doesn't flog cheapo slabtops

Charles Manning
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Re: ARM vs x86?

"Wouldn't this necessitate a re-write of OS X, considering the A series are ARM processors and Intel are x86?"

Not really. I would expect there have been skunk-works projects to do this anyway.

The underpinnings of iOS and OSX are the same: both use BSD and Mach under the hood. The UI stuff and apps are surely reasonably portable too.

Remember that until 10.7, OSX supported both PowerPC and x86, some of that was done through emulation and some through executables that included both PowerPC and x86 code.

Nothing technical holding it back...

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The gift of Grace: COBOL's odyssey from Vietnam to the Square Mile

Charles Manning
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Re: COBOL and Reverse Polish notation (not really!)

If anything, Python has the worst punctuation.

The python punctuation is whitespace and impossible to see. I've had python code mangled by editors, emailing and the like which took ages to fix.

At least if C code gets mangled it is reasonably easy to fix with a pretty printer.

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Charles Manning
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Re: COBOL - Yuck!

Actually the COBOL PICTURE stuff used for formating reports (COBOL's bread and butter), is far less verbose than attempting the same thing in C.

So is the record copying: Copy a record of one type to another type and all the fields with common names get copied across. One line does what n lines of C/Algol/Pascal/... does and does not need to be changed when the field names are changed.

COBOL is incredibly useful, and reasonably succinct, when used for what it was intended for.

Don't try writing an OS in COBOL though...

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Charles Manning
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Remember what a programmer was back then

In 1980, I was in first year at university and had holiday jobs working in various computer places.

Back then, most COBOL programmers had only a three month programming course and that was it.

Essentially, they took the more intelligent looking filing clerks and ran them through a 3 month course from IBM, ICL, or whatever, and out popped a newly minted COBOL programmer who could convert flowcharts into COBOL. THe better ones could even generate the flowcharts too.

They could do basic stuff like inventory, accounting, etc. COBOL was great for that task.

Many of these programmers got a bit big headed. They were needed to produce the end of month accounts and could weedle various favours out of management.

In about 1986, one place I worked at discovered desktop computers (Macs) running spread sheets. Suddenly managers could generate their own reports without some of these COBOL programmers holding them hostage. Many of the most dickish programmers were quickly fired.

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Mt Gox's 'transaction malleability' claim rubbished by researchers

Charles Manning
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You can't tell where it went

You can just tell that it is authentic.

Criminals and money launderers would not use it as an anonymous cunnrency if you could tell where it came from or where it went.

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Honeybee boffin STINGS OWN WEDDING TACKLE... for SCIENCE

Charles Manning
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As a beekeeper...

I call bollocks

Some bee stings are more painful than others on a bee-by-bee basis, not just on where you get stung.

Some cause more swelling than others, again on a bee-by-bee basis.

Even bees from the same hive (where at least the queen is the same, though dad might be different) the sting will vary.

So to be a scientist, this bloke needs to prick his todger a few more times to make sure his data is not just a one-off abberation. At least 10 or so samples will make a crude bell curve.

BTW: Forceps to get out a beesting is a daft idea. Use a knife or even a fingernail. The forceps squeeze in more poison.

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Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars

Charles Manning
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It's good enough

Looks pretty Australian to me.... SFA and dusty. Even the shape is close enough if you're noot too fussy.

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In Australia, protesting against Brendan Eich will be a CRIME

Charles Manning
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Is this really a freedom of speech issue?

If you have freedom of speech and action, you can say what you want and do what you want, but that comes with the responsibility to respect the same right for others.

That includes both being gay AND chanting anti-gay slogans.

It is freedom of speech to make your posters and wave them around. It is not freedom of speech to deface other people's posters - that is just vandalism.

You cannot claim a right to free speech while attempting to stifle the free expression of others.

If he had just stuck to saying "gays are unnatural", "I support Prop 8" or whatever, that would have been within the bounds of freedom of speech.

Eich was not just speaking freely, he was also paying money towards a cause that was trying to enact anti-gay legislation. That legislation would suppressed the rights of others. That goes beyond freedom of speech. This is surely what the fuss is about.

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India's GPS alternative launches second satellite

Charles Manning
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Wrong search term

GPS is the name of the US system.

What you want is the more generic GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) of which GLONASS, GPS and GALILEO are examples.

Then there are the local service variants such as the Chinese and Indian systems. These are cheaper to deploy since they require fewer satellites and less ground stations.

Why is the EU thing taking so long to get going? Bureaucracy. The satellite doesn't launch until the paperwork weighs more than the launch vehicle.

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Samsung slurps up full charge in 30 seconds with bio-battery

Charles Manning
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What about heat?

Sure size is a factor.

So is getting rid of waste heat.

Battery charging is, at present, a highly inefficient process, which generates heat, which is why batteries heat up while being charged. If their process is still as inefficient as current battery technologies, then these batteries will have to dump all the heat generated during a charge in 30 seconds. That's generating 50-100 times the heat power of current battery technologies. That is going to be hard to get rid of and will cook electronics.

To make something viable they will have to crack this nut and reduce the waste heat by at least an order of magnitude, if not two. So even if they only end up with brick sized batteries, they might have something useful for the alternative energy sector just through having far more efficient battery technology.

I'll be skeptical, but hopeful, until some independently verification shows this process can work.

Right now it looks like a delayed April Fool's joke, or VC scamming.

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Time is on their side: NIST's new atomic clock accurate for 300 MEEELLION years

Charles Manning
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Impressive.... but needed?

Yes you do need an accurate clock to be able to decode/send various signals. That does not necessarily mean you need to carry around an accurate clock source though.

In most settings you can re create the clock from the signal itself using some sort of phase locked loop (PLL) or similar trickery. This allows you to correct for all sorts of clock errors such as poor clock sources, Doppler and such.

For example, a GPS receiver needs to be within a few ppm to track the signal from a GPS satellite. You can get those tight tolerances by using very precise temperature controlled oscillators, or you can use a relatively cheap crystal oscillator and the GPS signal itself as a high precision clock source.

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Charles Manning
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Re: Synchronous Power Grids

The clock gets messed up by loads

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utility_frequency#Frequency_and_load

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Organic food: Pricey, not particularly healthy, won't save you from cancer

Charles Manning
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unnatural=Poison

This sort of "information" is often twisted in some sort of morality framework by linking modern pesticides and fertilizers to war. An easy thing to do since many fertilisers and agricultural chemicals are made from similar ingrediants to explosives,

What they fail to mention is that many of the worst poisons out there are perfectly natural: botulism, the arsenic in wells, etc.

This is how we end up with a million people dying every year of malaria for want of a bit of cheap, safe, DDT.

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White House blasts Samsung for tweeting Obama-Ortiz selfie

Charles Manning
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If he was in the privacy of his own home, he'd have a right to privacy.

When he's standing around in a public place, setting up a PR shot, the expectation of privacy rings a bit hollow.

Obama's PR folk set the record for constraining how the president's image is managed. They even hand out "official" photos to be used of press conferences etc. They set this selfie up as a PR stunt. They wanted to manage the image and its use. Unfortunately for them it got away.

All they can do now is make a song-and-dance about it so that more people see it.

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Charles Manning
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Not curious at all

Create a controversy around it, therefore more people retweet it and more news sites link to it and more people view it.

I would not have seen it if it was not for this article, nor would 99% or El Reg readers.

Sheer brilliance from the White House PR people!

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Five-year-old discovers Xbox password bug, hacks dad's Live account

Charles Manning
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Takes me back to the 1990s

I had Win3.11 on PC that the kids would use on occasion for playing games. I thought they were playing too many games, so I enabled the login in stuff and added a password.

The next day I saw the kids playing without me having logged them in and was both annoyed as well as impressed by how a 5 year old could have cracked the security.

It turns out all you needed to do was hit the escape key....

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Your files held hostage by CryptoDefense? Don't pay up! The decryption key is on your hard drive

Charles Manning
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That's the sad bit

NSA surely has the capability of nobbling these bastards, and doing so would surely be of benefit to the citizens who pay their wages and buy them shiny new data centres in the desert.

Yet they do nothing.

Remind me what purpose the NSA serves again?

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Lego is the TOOL OF SATAN, thunders Polish priest

Charles Manning
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"stepped on one while going to the loo"

Due to his pledge of chastity he should surely be in a reasonably Lego-free house.

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Greenpeace reveals WORLD'S FILTHIEST CLOUDS – and the cleanest may shock you

Charles Manning
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Greenpeace bah!

Well here's a bunch of bullshit on the www they can shut down themselves if they actually cared...

http://www.greenpeaceblackpixel.org

I was an avid Greenpeace supporter for 15 or so years, but no more... they have lost their way.

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Money? What money? Lawyer for accused Silk Road boss claims you can't launder Bitcoin

Charles Manning
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Chewbacca defense

The lawyer is trying to confuse the issue.

The whole idea of money laundering is to take money or other financial instruments, shovel them through some path that anonymises the value and "clean" money cones out the other side.

The bitcoin does not have to be a currency to achieve this. The money laundering process begins when the bitcoin was bought (or money changed hands for the goods that were then traded for bitcoin).

Money laundering can happen with or without the bitcoin being considered currency.

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Yahoo! keen! to! slurp! news! video! distie! site!

Charles Manning
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You mean like Barney?

"a cool dinosaur that everyone loves"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFQfM-pLmL4

... or an annoying purple has-been

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Intel's DIY MinnowBoard goes Max: More oomph for half the price

Charles Manning
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Why?

Why would I want a Minnowboard for more grunt when I can get a dual core ARM board for about half the price... right now... no heatsinks.

https://www.olimex.com/Products/OLinuXino/A20/A20-OLinuXino-MICRO/open-source-hardware

By the time the new Minnowboard actually ships, the quad core variant of this ARM board will probably be shipping.

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Can you tell a man's intelligence simply by looking at him? Yes

Charles Manning
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Can't tell with a woman

No wonder. We never look at their faces ... well that's what I keep on being told anyway.

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Snowden files latest: NSA and GCHQ targeted German satcomms

Charles Manning
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Re: How long before normal companies....

"Will you volunteer to be the first to protest by not paying taxes?"

Nope, this is not something the little guy can do at all effectively. A big corp on the other hand is a different matter...

Corporates regularly use their tax payment as leverage. Apple, Microsoft and others often threaten to take their toys away if cities or states don't do what they want.

Airbus USA could easily do the same.

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Charles Manning
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How long before normal companies....

... say stuff it, no more tax for you!

What both NSA and GCHQ are doing goes way beyond serving national security interests.

They are both destroying international good will. That puts nations and their citizens at risk. 9/11 didn't happen because Bin Laden woke up in a grumpy mood one day - it happened because people got sick and tired of heavy handed US aircraft-carrier diplomacy.

They are both spying on anyone they choose - including it would seem doing industrial espionage.

The whole purpose of paying tax into the public purse is to allow the government to do good deeds for the nation. There is clearly a lot of money going into funding organizations that are not in the best interests of the citizens, but actually to their detriment.

How long before tax payers realise their tax dollars/quid are enabling this? I would not be surprised if we soon see some people/companies refusing to participate in funding this hooliganism.

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Inmarsat: Doppler effect helped 'locate' MH370

Charles Manning
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Re: doppler shift is one of the things *all* GPS signals have to account for.

For all practical purposes, that gravitational difference is zero. We're dealing with a few ppm, not pptrillion.

Atmospheric distortion will have far greater impact that gravitational effects.

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Charles Manning
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Re: doppler shift is one of the things *all* GPS signals have to account for.

"What's surprising I think is that Inmarsat actually collects that much fine detail about the signal, as well as the messages it transmits and receives."

No, they just collect the precise frequency the signal was received on. That is useful for any diagnostic etc and is enough for doppler calcs.

Doppler is not just something GPSs have to account for (ie. it is not just something that gets in the way), it is also a very useful signal.

The doppler measurements themselves are a better source of velocity data that doing differences between positions. Doppler is also a useful input into filtering algorithms etc.

To the layman, measuring to 0.08% sounds pretty amazing, but GPS etc require far better than that to track satellites.

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Mt Gox staff tried to warn CEO of Bitcoin loss risks – reports

Charles Manning
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$1500 a day?

That's not enough to pay costs for 2 employees, let alone keep the boss in flash cars.

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Meet the man building an AI that mimics our neocortex – and could kill off neural networks

Charles Manning
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Re: Let a thousand flowers bloom

Thanks for a highly informative post.

I am suprised that anyone would think that a neuron has a single-bit output. Surely a neuron isn't just On or Off, but also somewhere in between?

Some of those WNN ideas look like they could fit well in FPGAs.

I agree with you 100% on private companies driving this rather than academia. Private companies are far more motivated to make useful stuff, while academia are far more interested in pursuing pet ideas - whether or not they are fruitful.

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Charles Manning
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Re: model a neurone in one supercomputer

"If you feed a computer program with the same inputs, it will always produce the same outputs. A brain is not like that."

Nope, that's where MEMORY comes in.

The whole idea with any machine learning is that it is **learning**. In other words, experience makes it better, which means it is not going to give you the same result with the same inputs and in other words it has memory + the ability to adapt.

While some see the whole point of machine learning as trying to replicate the human brain, others (generally the slightly more practical folks) see this as looking at how the brain works to inspire ways to design algorithms to solve problems.

For example, we have machine learning methods like regression and Bayesian classifiers that learn, are used every day, and can work very well if they are used correctly.

Neural nets (NN) are very simple neuron models. They don't need much to implement. Indeed you can implement one with an op-amp and a few discrete components, though using digital logic (eg a microcontroller) makes this easier.

You certianly don't need supercomputers. A $5 microcontroller can easily run a 20 neron NN at an update rate of many kHz.

NNs are very simple (way below the true functionality of even a fly's neurons) but can still achieve useful tasks.

From what I have seen so far, the Numenta nerons take NNs one step further by adding time. In theory this could still be achieved with NNs by adding shift registers and more nerons, but the Numenta algorithms are a closer approximation to true brain function and are likely easier (ie faster) to train.

Will this actually yield fruit that NNs and other simplfied models cannot? Time will tell.

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Charles Manning
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+1 for not mentioning the Turing Test

Just about every article on AI manages to jam in a reference to the Turing Test, out of context.

This article managed to be very informative, mostly because it does not fall prey to low-brow journalism.

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Zuck: Web drones, not balloons (cough, cough Google) are way forward

Charles Manning
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It is great when they help the world.

It is NOT great when they claim the brownie points for saving the world when they are really just pulling a PR stunt and achieving SFA.

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Charles Manning
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Re: @ Charles 9 - FB & Google...

Very coherently written.

I went to university and got a post grad qualification in Computer Science. I emerged thinking I could do a whole lot for the world (the arrogance of youth). I suppose I have done quite a bit for the city living tech world, but I've done bugger all for most people out there.

I also grew up in rural Africa and can speak 3 African languages. In many of these areas there is no clinic, no phone and the people don't even have bank accounts, let alone mobile phones and twitter accounts.

These hypothetical examples of sending pictures of rashes are bollocks for most people. What the people need is way lower level than that. Access to a nurse once a month who teaches basic stuff, has very basic meds and just a stethoscope would be a huge step up, and easy to achieve.

My sister (a nurse) is currently trying to set up a charity-funded clinic in rural South Africa. At present she does stuff off her own bat (her free time and when she can afford the petrol etc to drive 400km round trip). If it gets off the ground, that clinic will run for 1 week per month - with just a couple of nurses - and serve about 5000 people. Cost: around $40k per year.

That's the sort of stuff that actually gets things done in the Third world, not drones and other rich-boy toys.

In most of these places there is no infrastructure to service the technology. As a result much foreign aid just ends up wasted. Foreign aid and medical support fails to get through because the trucks break. A Sweish aid program supplied Swedish tractors that were all broken within 3 years because people only knew how to service Massey Ferguson tractors.

Unless drones etc come with huge service teams and a BOFH in every village, they will just end up littering the countriside.

Far better to spend a tenth of the money on stuff that really matters.

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