* Posts by Flocke Kroes

2368 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

We all hate Word docs and PDFs, but have they ever led you to being hit with 32 indictments?

Flocke Kroes
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Re: What

There is more to the story not covered in this article. Manafort is accused of using laundered money from Russia to hire EU politicians to lobby congress.

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: There's a worrying implication

Not an implication at all. The loan officer wrote back saying the P&L document looked doctored and could Manafort please send a clean copy.

From the loan officers point of view the idea is to get the commission. Reporting that the documents are obvious forgeries is some one else's responsibility.

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Who wanted a future in which AI can copy your voice and say things you never uttered? Who?!

Flocke Kroes
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What about hand writing?

AI generated fake voice and fake video get lots of press coverage, but I do not see much in the press about AI generated hand writing. Spokesmen for Google and Facebook said much the same thing: no point - thanks to password re-use we already have the online banking passwords for half the western world.

I hunted down someone doing research into AI handwriting and after several pints, I got this snippet: "We do not make an effort to publicise out research because we are so well funded. We get a large number of small donations from people too lazy to check their bank statements."

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Europe's Unified Patent Court fate in the balance amid German probing (yes, Brexit is in the mix)

Flocke Kroes
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Fall in patent quality?

That would require that there was some minimal quality requirements in the past. As the EPO receives over 400 patent applications per day, the considerable backlog can be dealt with by replacing all the patent examiners with a monkey with two rubber stamps. This should have no impact on patent quality while at the same time releasing a large number of highly qualified professionals to do something constructive instead.

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Teensy plastic shields are the big new thing in 2018's laptop crop

Flocke Kroes
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Re: thinklight

I prefer bumps on F and J.

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Stephen Elop and the fall of Nokia revisited

Flocke Kroes
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Why can't Elop take credit for his achievement?

When Elop arrived at Nokia, they were selling more phones than Apple and Samsung put together. Their market share and unit sales were increasing right up until the burning platform memo. The Elop went to the carriers with the generous gift of being able to sell Microsoft phones and they told him "We hate Skype". Skype (owned by Microsoft) was eating the carrier's breakfast, so Nokia's excellent relationship with the carriers went straight down the toilet.

Doing a Ratner was not enough to knock Nokia out of the top 10. Elop had to combine it with a Osbourne. Nokia could not manufacture Windows phones. Their factories stood idle while manufacture was contracted out. When Nokia/Windows phones eventually reached the market, salesmen hid them. Two out of three Lumia's were promptly returned by customers. Salesmen did not want the hassle of filling in the returns paperwork, so they worked hard not to sell Lumias in the first place.

On top of pissing off the sales force and most customers, Microsoft was able to drive away Nokia's loyal customers by removing any hope of a software upgrade path.

No-one else has ever destroyed a market leading company so fast and thoroughly. Elop should take credit for his unique achievement.

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Roses are red, are you single, we wonder? 'Cos this moth-brain AI can read your phone number

Flocke Kroes
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Roses are blue, violets are red. Today moth brains smell numbers instead.

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UK Home Sec Amber Rudd unveils extremism blocking tool

Flocke Kroes
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The terrifying alternative ...

... teach critical thinking in schools.

The downside: instead of patronising sneering techies politicians would have to deal with patronising sneering school children until they are old enough to vote.

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NASA budget shock: Climate studies? GTFO. We're making the Moon great again, says Trump

Flocke Kroes
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Not what they say, what they do

Trump's other wall has planning permission. Like most Republican leaders Trump is utterly convinced of the dangers of climate change, but doesn't want any evidence. This is why Earth monitoring satellites have been cancelled.

A fusion reactor in space is well beyond daft. ITER is a technology demonstrator that is far too small to produce more (electrical) power than it uses to operate. It will need 50MW to get started and will produce 500MW of heat. Its core is >5000t and holds <0.5g of tritium. Catastrophic failure will cause the fuel to touch the side of the reactor and instantly cool to the point that fusion stops. We put 400g/year of tritium into things that glow. The strength required to keep the vacuum is small compared to that required to hold the magnets together.

You will not get a license for RTGs in Earth orbit, so ITER in space would required >70,000m² of solar panels - only 5 SLS launches! The core requires 38 SLS launches and >1,400,000m² of radiators to dump the heat need 131 SLS launches. ITER requires a large mass of ancillary kit like helium extractors that will add many more launches. After you get the thing running, you then have to dismantle it, ship bits back to Earth and measure what the intense neutron flux has done to the materials.

I have been using (effectively cancelled) block 2 SLS launches. Double for block 1 or halve for (expendable!) BFR.

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Yorkshire cops have begun using on-the-spot fingerprint scanners

Flocke Kroes
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Re: False positive rate

Somewhere between pathetic and frightening.

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Are you an open-sorcerer or free software warrior? Let us do battle

Flocke Kroes
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Re: GPL is not freedom at all.

You do not have to use the GPL. If you do use the GPL, you can retain the copyright. You can sell GPL software, but more common business models involve selling support or selling improvements.

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Flocke Kroes
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Well... that was vague and woolly

Open source has a wide range of meanings, including "You can read the source code, but if you do and later make money from software Microsoft can sue you for copyright and patent infringement" (I am not kidding, Microsoft really did make software available under license like that).

Ignore what people call it at look at the license. The big two are:

BSD: do what you want but mention us so we can demonstrate that we did something useful with our last funding and get another grant next year.

GPL: do what you want, but if you distribute GPL software you must make the source code available to the recipients under the GPL license.

The massive advantage to absolutely everyone is licenses like these prevent lock-in:

Use our cheap backup software. You want to restore from backup encoded in our secret format? £££ (British gas fell for that one)

Our software is cheap. Want it to do a little extra? £. and a bit more? ££ and something else: £££ ...

Once you are locked in, the price of the most trivial change is just less than the cost of replacing the whole thing.

If you have the source code _and_ the right to create derivative works, the cost of any change can be the lowest competent bidder.

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What did we say about Tesla's self-driving tech? SpaceX Roadster skips Mars, steers to asteroids

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Tough crowd

Warning: A bunch of programmers hang out here.

Programmers spend half their lives dealing with computers that do exactly what they are told even when it is not what is wanted. They spend the other half of their lives trying to get humans to explain clearly what they want so they do not throw a tantrum when they get what they asked for.

Dave Harvey clearly believes you are capable of communicating with the precision appreciated by programmers. Take it as a compliment because they do not make the effort when they believe there is no hope.

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Flocke Kroes
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The Chinese have developed their own rockets. They are competitive with other disposable rockets and have achieved 75 consecutive successful launches. If they had all the manufacturing data for Falcon Heavy today they would need to spend years working out how to build one. For example this is what happens when a strut is not manufactured consistently to requirements.

By the time the Chinese had a reliable Falcon Heavy they would be competing with BFR. They would be better off adapting their own kit for re-use because they understand it thoroughly and can build it consistently.

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Newsflash! Faking it until you make it is illegal in Silicon Valley: Biz boss pleads guilty

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Fraud

Sending fake wire transfers was really dumb. The solution was to offer alternative shares to cover debts and threaten to declare bankruptcy if the deal was not taken. He could have got detailed advice in return for a single drop of blood.

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UK PM Theresa May orders review of online abuse laws in suffrage centenary speech

Flocke Kroes
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The last general election results ...

... are evidence of May's inability to engage politically with voters. (She only remained in power because the other lot are about as clueless.)

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A Hughes failure: Flat Earther rocketeer can't get it up yet again

Flocke Kroes
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Re: "Curvature" proves nuthin!

Pictures of Chicago taken from lake Michigan from about 2 and 30 miles away showing the bottom of the towers dropping below the horizon + comments from flat Earthers.

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Lauri Love judgment: Extradition would be 'oppressive' and breach forum bar

Flocke Kroes
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Re: tin foil hat

When Gary McKinnon was searching for UFOs he was not the only one digging through US government computers. What made him special was lack of precautions to hide his identity combined with living in a country with an embarrassing extradition treaty with the US. At the time, US security was to make an example of the few people they could get at to deter the ones who were completely safe in China and Russia (or at least appeared to be there).

Actually changing default passwords, deleting accounts of people who had left or wondering why the same person was logged in multiple times from different IP addresses was all a bit technical.

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: Justice ?

"UK should grow a backbone and charge and try him here."

Charging him in the UK would require evidence which the US does not need to supply for an extradition.

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Peers approve Brit film board as pr0n overlords despite concerns

Flocke Kroes
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Easy to test ...

Someone puts their age verification credentials on line for use by children. If he gets caught the system is not anonymous.

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Epic spacewalk, epic FAIL: Cosmonauts point new antenna in the wrong direction

Flocke Kroes
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Deorbit throw

I was curious, so I looked up the equations. First: a handy graph of ISS altitude with time. The 400km altitude for ISS is only valid after an orbit raising burn. Just before each burn, the altitude can be 330km. An object needs to be in a circular orbit with an altitude of 160km to go round the Earth once. A tennis serve is sufficient to go from 400km circular to 400-160km elliptical. A fast bowler has enough delta-v to put a cricket ball into a 330-160km orbit from 330km circular. Just letting something float away so it misses the next orbit raising burn means it burn up in about a year.

Ignoring air resistance, a gentle throw antispinward will drop perigee by 50km and mean an object does one less orbit than the ISS in about a month. That should be plenty of time for air resistance to drop apogee well below the ISS.

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Open source turns 20 years old, looks to attract normal people

Flocke Kroes
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@tombo

If you are concerned about Google/Facebook/... keeping enhancements to open source projects to themselves then the licence you are looking for is the GNU Affero General Public License.

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Spectre shenanigans, Nork hackers upgrade, bad WD drives and more

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Flash in the pan

Could be worse. Imagine how bad it would be if Microsoft had built Flash support into Excel.

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Web searching died the day they invented SEO

Flocke Kroes
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On the other hand

Although NASA could not find what they were looking for at Goddard, at least they found something interesting instead.

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I'll torpedo Tor weirdos, US AG storms: Feds have 'already infiltrated' darknet drug souks

Flocke Kroes
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Half the solution

If you kill or cure all the addicts today that will create a financial incentive to produce more addicts tomorrow. The DEA were set up to deal with suspiciously large drug orders from small towns. Congress fixed that last year. 3 senators and 44 congressman did not take hefty campaign contributions from drug companies, so I have confidence that no effective solution will be tolerated for years.

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Kremlin social media trolls aren't actually that influential, study finds

Flocke Kroes
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@Voland's right hand

I thought the fake news sites were funded by Google ads and they selected content based on what people wanted to believe without checking and show their friends on Facebook. If the news favoured Trump/Russia I assumed it was for the same reason that 419s target Christians.

If you have evidence to the contrary then I am very interested.

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Ubuntu reverting to Xorg in Bionic Beaver

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Thanks baloc

I misunderstood what you were doing in your first post.

(I avoided synaptic partly for the reason you gave and partly because I I have some kit too small for graphical applications. dselect serves the same purpose as synaptic without the need for a GUI.)

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: Weyland will be the future when ...

more people adopting Linux for the desktop, running X over the wire (or air) is becoming an edge case

Back when people started to have more than one desktop, X over the wire became an every day occurrence. Now that desktops are slowly fading into the sunset, it makes sense to put cheap X servers where you want displays and have a big X client where the noise does not matter.

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: It is the video hardware driver's fault

I blame the customers for buying hardware without sufficient publicly available documentation for creating an independent open source driver, but I cannot see any way to fix that without a hypno-toad.

I am not root. All the remote stuff works fine with Xorg. I did not need to change any permissions. What are you talking about?

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: Weyland will be the future when ...

IIRC the reasons for Wayland were to get the network out of the way so it would be fast and light and to drop a pile of legacy code.

Disks are cheap and no-one is going to notice a few megabytes of old libraries that never get paged into RAM. They will notice their absence when old applications stop working. Wayland needs (has?) a compatibility library so cutting out the legacy code is a non-starter.

The old requirements of X were 4MB RAM and 12MB of swap. Yes megabytes. X is small and light. Its the applications that can be huge and inefficient. Swapping in Wayland for X is not going to fix bloated applications.

If the client and server are the same machine, X uses shared memory for 'networking', so no overhead. When the client and server are on different machines, X can run well over networking kit from the 80s by sending a command stream. Wayland draws a picture, compresses it, sends that over the network, and decompresses it on the far side (they got this working in August of last year!). Calling that a huge step backwards is over generous.

When Weyland has been stable for years, working over a network (around 50% of my use case) on kit that runs on batteries then it will be a competitor for Xorg and might actually have a future. I expect the sun will become a red giant first.

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When you play this song backwards, you can hear Satan. Play it forwards, and it hijacks Siri, Alexa

Flocke Kroes
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Not that easy

These devices have a low power chip that listens continuously for anything resembling "Alexa" or "OK Google". When it hears something that matches it sends a recording to the cloud for speech recognition. Putting proper speech recognition into a low power chip would be difficult.

The strange thing is that early attempts at speech recognition (what you say) turned out to be voice recognition (who is speaking) devices. The down side is that antique tech requires training. Say "Siri recognise my voice" a hundred times and a low power chip probably could (but it would also respond to you saying "OK Google" or "OW! Who spread drawing pins on the floor?"). The problem is to find customers with enough brains to understand the problem, enough patience to actually train the device and sufficient courage/gullibility to let such a device in their home.

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Crooks make US ATMs spew million-plus bucks in 'jackpotting' hacks

Flocke Kroes
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Diebold?

I thought they changed their name to Premier Election Solutions because of their well deserved reputation for poor security.

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Sysadmin crashed computer recording data from active space probe

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Hmmm ...

When the first computers hauled themselves out of the ocean they talked to each other through a long coax cable that went from one computer to the next in line. Each computer would have a T-junction connector plugged into the back, with the base of the T in the computer and the coax lines on each side. To prevent the signal bouncing of the ends of the cable each end was fitted with a terminator (pictures).

When a user decided the network was the cause of all their problems instead of unplugging the computer from the T junction they would unplug both sides of the coax. As well as breaking the network in half, each half would not be able to communicate because each had a missing terminator.

When computers came down from the trees they talked to each other over SCSI. SCSI worked like 10Base2, either with a ribbon cable with multiple connectors for up to 8 devices or each device had two connectors so they could be daisy chained together. Again, a terminator was required at each end (sometimes a separate dongle and sometimes enabled by setting jumpers in the device). Unplugging any device again broke the bus into two pieces that wouldn't work because of lack of proper termination.

Someone with a greyer beard than mine is required to explain IBM 360 peripherals, but I can easily believe unplugging either end of the cable would crash the mainframe and that the PFYs of the time were expected to know this.

Clearly the time has come for me to wire a motion sensor to a Raspberry Pi so it can shout "Get off my lawn!" when any of the neighbours' kids get close.

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Julian Assange to UK court: Put an end to my unwarranted Ecuadorean couch-surf

Flocke Kroes
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Re: showing them up as the lying idiots

We don't need Assange for that. Given half an excuse our politicians go on television and do that all by themselves.

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Fancy coughing up for a £2,000 'nanodegree' in flying car design?

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Flying cars

Your choices are small enough to fit in one lane of traffic and too loud to go near anywhere residential or quiet enough to land near home but eats both lanes, half the pavement on each side and struggles to lift one average man. Once you in the air, you have to land at once to comply with minimum reserve fuel requirements.

Ask again next year because there might be lighter batteries available.

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Ever wondered why tech products fail so frequently? No, me neither

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Jake

They know about you. The manufacturer of that $19.95 197 piece fragile tool set puts the reject parts in smaller boxes and sells them for $99.99.

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Here we go again... UK Prime Minister urges nerds to come up with magic crypto backdoors

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Goal ... disadvantage law-abiding citizens

People tend to ascribe to others crimes they would commit themselves. For techies, this shows as an attempt to find sane intelligent motives consistent with other peoples' actions. This cannot work with Teresa May. Although ability at government is not a required attribute of a successful politician they do need to be better at politics ... than other politicians. She called for an election in June 2017. Now you know her level of competence at a core skill you have to base the motives behind her other activities consistent with determined ignorance and fly bashing against the closed half of a window level stupidity.

The only defence against such people is education - somehow we have to educate enough voters to prevent people like her getting elected again.

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: M of N Secret Sharing

Hello phone, some new judges have been appointed. Here are their public keys. Did I accidently put my key in the list?

I wish I could find the video I saw of an old judge explaining some aspect of technology. I cannot tell you what sort of technology he was explaining because he kept getting stuck half way through sentences and forgetting what he was talking about. After about quarter of an hour, I could not stand to watch more. Not all judges are senile (although that does seem to be a popular career move in the US). There is even a judge who understands every single line of code Google copied from Java. Such judges are rare. I have met "techies" without the brains to understand what a secret key is, and PHBs with the computer literacy to keep a secret key secret are few and far between.

Giving each judge a secret key is as sane as giving each employee a four digit access code (someone will pick 1066).

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Death notice: Moore’s Law. 19 April 1965 – 2 January 2018

Flocke Kroes
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Moore's law lives ...

... for flash ... for a little longer. Although the size of transistors has gone up (and bits/cell) the number of layers has gone up faster.

CPUs cannot use the same trick (yet). 99.9% of a flash chip is idle with only a few sectors active so it does not use much power. Large chunks of a CPU transition every cycle. Getting the heat out of one layer of CPU transistors is bad enough. Trying that with 100 layers will cause a loud bang and instant vaporised CPU.

IBM have been trying to drill thousands of holes in a CPU so they can pump a cooling liquid through them. Might be cool for a data centre, but it will burn you phone battery in minutes.

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US govt shutdown lobs spanner in SpaceX's Falcon Heavy launch

Flocke Kroes
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Re: I told Elon he would regret...

He has a launch site on Omelek Island, but it can only handle Falcon 1s.

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China's first space station to – ahem – de-orbit in late March

Flocke Kroes
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The other big firework display

Falcon heavy static test fire will be (delayed again?) at 21:00 UTC tonight.

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ITU aims to to keep the radio on with new satellite regulation fees

Flocke Kroes
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Re: 1,000 Satellites?!?

Satellite internet. Elon Musk is not the only one with such a plan. Low orbit minimises latency, large quantity provides bandwidth.

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Remember those holy tech wars we used to have? Heh, good times

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Browser wars

Just try a different web site.

I get messages like "Our webmaster does not understand the <noscript> tag" and "Enable javascript or fuck off". The same information is always available somewhere else. The only time this bothers me is I would like a choice about where to shop because amazon is the only shop I know that works without javascript.

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NASA is pretty pleased with its pulsar-sniffing intergalactic GPS tech

Flocke Kroes
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In other news ...

Falcon Heavy wet dress rehearsal was not followed by a static fire test. Blame one of the hold down clamps for this latest delay to the second deep space Tesla.

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Ecuador tried to make Julian Assange a diplomat

Flocke Kroes
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Other victims

His bail sureties had to pay £93,500. The police bill for the first three years was £12.6M. If I put on my tin foil hat then when the UK ceased paying for 24x7 surveillance I suspect the US took over.

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Up, up and a-weigh! Boeing flies cargo drone with 225kg payload

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Payload fraction is impressive, but how many bullets to shot a couple of rotors off

There was a fun video about drone enthusiasts and gun enthusiasts settling the arguments about gun vs drone. At first the shooters were surprised at how fast and nimble drones are. They could not hit them. The drone pilots got cocky and flew slower and slower into the drones got shot. Later, the shooters learned to wait for the drone to corner so it presented a slower moving target. With practice a competent shooter can kill a drone flying back and forth in front of the hill used to stop stray bullets. Sometimes the drone kept flying after it was hit one or twice and sometimes it died on the first hit.

This thing is a bigger target - easier to hit but a single round will not smash the whole to bits. I am sure the army will not be flying it back and forth at low altitude until it gets killed. Shooters are going to have a dull time waiting for hours for the few seconds when they stand a chance of killing a drone. I would like to think losing a drone is cheaper than losing a convoy of trucks but this is military budget so I would not bet on it.

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Cabinet reshuffle leaves UK digital policy and GDS rudderless. And now the news...

Flocke Kroes
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Re: What?

Someone sensible came up with the idea of over 600 MPs because such a large number will spend far more time arguing with each other than doing any governing. The work-around was to select a few - the cabinet - to make all the decisions then coerce, intimidate or con most of the party to vote as required. The cabinet used to be about a dozen with reasonably separate responsibilities so each could set policy in their bailiwick without consulting the others for every detail.

At some point it became so obvious that even a prime minister noticed there were not 12 candidates in the party capable of running a branch of government. The solution to decades of negative selection was simple: increase the size of the cabinet to about 100 and give each of them overlapping job titles.

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Astroboffins say our Solar System is a dark, violent, cosmic weirdo

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Just shows how special we all are...

We do not know that eukaryotes happened only once. Only that if there were others they left no descendants.

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: Just shows how special we all are...

Sure there a lot of planets, but if you filter out those that are to larger/small, wrong location, do not have molton cores or the parent suns are to violent, that number comes down a lot.

Put that number all the way back up because it included sensible size, right location (near star and in galaxy) and stable stars. Molten core is related to size and large moon: Nests and eggs are not that common on Earth but that does not make finding the two together extremely unlikely.

I kept the red dwarfs separate because of the reasons you gave.

Moons of gas giants are a possibility. We have some in this solar system that are possibilities for life (and others that aren't). We have gas giant moons with a thicker atmosphere than Earth that will burn up meteors. Tidally locked to the gas giant means not tidally locked to the star. Moons of gas giants would be worth counting if we had the technology to do it for exoplanets.

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: Just shows how special we all are...

About 11 billion planets in this galaxy meet the first four of your conditions. Add in red dwarfs and we are up to 40 billion. I do not even have a figure for moons of gas giants with a reasonable chance of having had surface water for billions of years.

Multiply that by at least 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe and life becomes something we should expect (although possibly too far apart to stand a reasonable chance of contact).

We have a limited supply of planets for counting large moons, but if you look at trans-Neptunian objects, large moons are quite popular.

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