* Posts by Esme

916 posts • joined 24 Oct 2007


It's the end of 2018, and this is your year in security


Re: A Question for Mullers and Mullahs Alike re Future Years in Play

(chuckle) I'm pretty sure Amanfrommars isnt human, but is instead someones experiment with AI. Unfortunately, the current iteration is less comprehensible than one of the earlier versions. It had gone from gibberish to occasionally almost meaningful - then took a step backwards.

A year after Logitech screwed over Harmony users, it, um, screws over Harmony users: Device API killed off


I've had a few logitech devices over the years - mice, joysticks - I quite liked them. But if they're pulling that kind of crap on customers, they won't be getting any more pennies from me.

Sticking with one mobile provider gets you... Oh. Price rises, big exit fees, and lovely, lovely lock-in



TLDR: it's the system that's at fault, it's not fit for purpose to be used by humanity as a whole, it only suits a certain subset of us, and also tends to reward rather than punish the less scrupulous.

The thing is, some folk (in business, government and here) make the silly assumption that everyone is equally capable and comfortable dealing with financial stuff - and that simply is not true. Some folk by mindset are poorly equipped to deal with the kind of shennanigans that companies get up to with their customers, and I'm one of them.

It's long been an annoyance to me that the world doesn't expect everyone to be an IT expert or a scientist, because it DOES expect everyone to be a salesperson and an accountant. But apparently the salespeople and accountants couldn't possibly get their heads around that techno-sciency stuff - everyone has their own strengths, after all! Which is a perfectly reasonable standpoint. But suggest for a moment that maybe not everyone is capable of being a salesperson or an accountant, and all one gets is, effectively, a sneerily delivered "suck it up sucker!" in response. Which is emphatically not a reasonable standpoint.

Why should I have to expect to be a victim of unscrupulous companies? Why should companies being unscrupulous not have to expect to be severely punished for it? And why should salespeople and accountants not have to expect to be well-versed in science? Yes, I know - there's nothing in the economic system to enforce - or even encourage - ethical behaviour on the part of companies, quite the reverse. But therein is the fundamental flaw of the whole economic system.

As for salespeople and accountants - well, it just so happens that the economic system we have favours their mindsets, rather than mine, it's not necessarily anything to do with intelligence nor of understanding the impact that finances have on ones life that separates them from me. It's mindset, and that's not something that can easily be changed much if at all.

And just as I may feel frustrated that some who deny the problems of climate change and ecological collapse, or who seem to just try to ignore it in the hope that it'll magically just go away just aren't really trying hard enough or aren't willing to understand, so I know that some seem to think that I'm just not trying hard enough (not true - I've had nervous breakdowns over trying to get my head around the insanities - to me - of finances) or are stupid because I can't handle stuff well that they deal with on a daily basis (just as they can;t get their head around stuff that I deal with on a daily basis, funnily enough).

Just as some folk can only get their heads around the most basic science, so some folk can only get their heads around the most basic financial stuff. Expecting the latter to play with stocks and shares and keep an eagle eye on contracts is just as daft as expecting the former to set up good science labs.

In case you're not already sick of Spectre... Boffins demo Speculator tool for sniffing out data-leaking CPU holes


I want choice

As a user, I now want all computing devices that I might puchase labelled to state whether or not they indulge in predictive execution - so I can avoid those that do.

OK, maybe my attitude is simplistic, but then whilst I understand the general idea of predictive execution, I don't understand the hows and ramifications and how the attacks on it work at all. But I do understand that KISS applies when considering the security of computer systems, and predictive execution clearly is NOT needed for consumer computing (as I gather that software work-arounds to ameliorate the problem slowed peoples PCs down a few percent). Maybe there's a place for it in high-level computing, but I'd happily sacrifice a little speed in return for a simpler CPU that I know has less of an attack surface.

Bloodhound SSC reaches the end of the road for want of £25m


@Jan 0 - nah, Skylon. Same team, better design (HOTOL was deeply flawed, mainly due to having engines at the back and fuel tanks up front and the ensuing changes in centre of gravity as the tanks emptied during flight making the thing unstable), with a genuinely new type of engine that they have pretty much proven can work to create a doable SSTO with (or be used for supersonic transport planes)

Boffins build blazing battery bonfire


Re: Interesting idea

I'm not sure if people read what you said properly, Macrorodent, because as stated, I agree with you. I also find it absurd to believe that 99.9% of climate researchers have been persuaded to join a global conspiracy promoting a fake climate change problem. What I believe is that 99.9% of climate researchers have NOT joined a global conspiracy (Occam's Razor decrees that the simplest possibility is usually the likliest) , therefore th claims of most climatologists that we have a climate change problem and that human activities are part of the problem is almost certainly true. Not sure why anyone would downvote you on that unless they are climate-change deniers.

However, I must disagree with an earlier poster who commented on what "the elephant in the room.." is. IMHO the elephant in the room is that across the board insect numbers have been dropping rapidly, removing the underpinnings of most of the land-based ecosystems. Arguing over whether using hot silicon to store energy is better or worse than some other system seems to me a bit like arguing over precisely how the deckchairs should be arranged on the Titanic. Just store the damned energy so it that what's produced can be used more efficiently! If we run out of things to eat because the biosystem is collapsing around our ears, it'll reduce our need for power storage (or anything else) rather finally.

FYI: NASA has sent a snatch-and-grab spacecraft to an asteroid to seize some rock and send it back to Earth


@cray74 - thank you! Just had chance to do a search on the subject at lunchbreak myself, and I see that there are indeed reports of clay detections on asteroids, eg: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0019103581900555

Hmmnn.. - wonder if this is in-situ creation of clay by small-scale chemistry, or if the asteroidal clay is all from a large body that had free water on it before it broke up?

In any case - I was wrong (and have been wrong for an embarassing number of years!), and thank you for pointing out the gap in my knowledge!


"...it may contain water and clays from the protoplasmic disc that formed the Sun and the planets in our Solar System...."

It won't contain any clays unless I'm more out of touch with notions on how bodies form from a stellar accretion disk than I realised. So far as I'm aware clays only form due to the chemical weathering of rocks.

OneDrive is broken: Microsoft's cloudy storage drops from the sky for EU users


Re: "a lesson on the consequences of too much dependence on the cloud"

As Pascal Monett said:

"What this is compares much better to a lesson in sheep herding, with major CEOs and "decision-makers" being the sheep,..."

THIS has been the main problem with corporate computing right from the start, and Microsoft essentially built their business on those with purchasing power having that mindset. The "You can't get fired for buying IBM" attitude was what made many businesses get desktop PC's in the first place, and that meant they ended up with an operating system made by a little outfit called Microsoft simply because that's what came with the boxes they'd just bought, not because there was any analysis of whether the OS that came with it was better than other options - the hardware and the software that came with it were generally viewed as a unit buy folk who generally didn't know any better.

What has astonished me over the years is the willingness of businesses to put up with the blatant activities of Microsoft, Apple and others to try to actually force vendor lock-in on customers (rather than merely encourage it), and this despite (in MS's case, at least - I have zero experience of Apple products) software that has been shockingly bad and unreliable at times. Things like the file format wars and companies forcing GUI changes on users rather than offering them as new alternatives that people might enjoy...

How in hell anyone could, with a straight face, laud Bill Gates and MS as having made computers easy to use (as I've seen stated on several occasions over the years) without intending to be sarcastic I do not know, unless they did so with a complete ignorance of the subject of IT. And there's the fundamental problem with IT in a nutshell - it tends to be people who don't understand IT who make the major purchasing decisions, both in businesses and in the home.

GCHQ pushes for 'virtual crocodile clips' on chat apps – the ability to silently slip into private encrypted comms


If anyone from GCHQ is reading this - I have no sympathy for your current position. As a result of your past actions, the UK population now finds itself wanting to be kept safe from bad actors, but regarding GCHQ as being amongst the bad actors we want protection from. You've effectively turned yourselves into a state-salaried criminal gang. Were it down to me, I'd fire the bulk of you, cut the salaries of those remaining by ten percent, and make it clear to those remaining that any future blatant disregard of the law and unfettered snooping would result in serious personal fines and jail sentences for everyone involved in those actions. I'm well aware of the need for intelligence agencies to sometimes transgress societal norms - but only in limited circumstances. Damn you for taking the piss, breaching our trust and then having the gall to lie about it. Damn you for being a security service we are ashamed of, rather than proud of.

Just a little heads up: Google is still trying to convince everyone that web apps don't suck


Web apps? Bah, humbug!

I am, these days, a user, pure and simple. I haven't a clue about the technologies involved in the creation of phone apps or web apps, and I've extremely little experience of using phone apps, (just two that came, unasked for, on my phone; a map app and a weather app).

At college I have to use Google classroom, which is, frankly, dreadful. The email side is apalling, and the classroom stuff appears to have been put together by people who don't actually care about students getting stuff done, nor any regard for folk who find the glare of all that white background painful.(before anyone suggests anything, I need lower contrast, light green backgrounds work well for me, not white on black screens) Having for many years had experience of the fun in getting documents created in Word/Open Office to be represented and printed correctly by t'other, Imagine my delight on finding that a document created in Libre Office at home doesn't fare any better when opened with Googles web-based monstrosity than when opened with Word - this despite Googles office software being based on the same fundamental code as Libre Office, I believe?

Add to that, the college I go to is out in the sticks, and unless youv'e got a landline (or a wifi connection to a landline), you can forget about using web-based anything, 90% of the time. Or phonecalls, for that matter.

Further, I'm still not convinced that there are enough programmers who understand how to make good usable GUIs never mind whether the application is native, web based or otherwise, and touchscreen stuff is just horrible if Android is anything to go by. IMNSHO of course.

Leaving the best for last - if I have a WP or spreadsheet thats capable of doing the necessary on my PC or laptop (I wish I had one of those!) then why, by all that's holy, do I need it to be able to do the same things via the web as well? What advantage is there to me? I can see potential disadvantages - like inability to get my work and my data when there's no connection, or if Googles servers have an outage, but durned if I can see a single positive of using web-based office applications. Its just adding another potential point of failure in the process of getting work done.

And that's quite aside from my loathing Google as a company. I will say that Google Scholar is quite useful though.

Townsfolk left deeply unsatisfied by Bury St Edmunds' 'twig' of a Christmas tree


Re: I come to Bury St Edmunds...

Barking! (I'm being conecise)

Macs to Linux fans: Stop right there, Penguinista scum, that's not macOS. Go on, git outta here


Re: RE: onefang

(smile). I used to have strong, centimetre-long nails that I could type with when younger (many many many moons ago). My party trick was to pick up an empty corrugated cardboard box (like the ones listing paper came in) with one hand and suddenly strike the box nails-first with my other hand - they'd go straight through, without injury to my nails. Never did get any hassle from the lads, for some reason..

Science: Broke brats glued to the web while silk-stocking scions have better things to do


Yeah, right..

"...a recent study looking at digital skills amongst all adults highlighted that 91 per cent of better-off adults claimed to have basic digital skills, compared with 62 per cent of poorer adults."

Not sure I'd trust that datum. Funnily enough, when I was in IT support, the higher up the corporate ladder you were (and thus the better off financially) the more likely you were to oversell your abilities on PCs (with a few (dis)honourable exceptions, eg; a director who felt he was so important that actually learning how to use machines was beneath him, and was something only hoi poloi do). Hence inappropriate "solutions" being foisted on unfortunate minions by upper manglement that wouldn't believe their IT staff actually knew what they were talking about.

Chinese biz baron wants to shove his artificial moon where the sun doesn't shine – literally


Cloudy nights?

Depending on the depth and optical density of the clouds, cloudy nights would just mean that the target area was lit by a diffuse glow - as would, to a lesser degree, a wide area around it.

Practicalities aside, I'd be intrigued to know what effect regular sunlight at the planned intensity would have on local flora. Would photosynthesis still occur, albeit at a much reduced rate (bearing in mind that its quantum effects that are involved here, so a photon of the right energy should still do the trick even if there are way less than usual numbers of the things incoming)? Would it play hob with plants natural cycles?

I still think it's a bad idea, albeit not utterly unfeasible, anyway!

Where can I hide this mic? I know, shove it down my urethra


Re: Smaller and smaller

@Joe W - upvote from me. Aye, it's an annoying problem, right enough. Even jeans or trousers that do have actual pockets (ie: not bits of sewing masquerading as pockets but actually non-functional) tend to have pockets so snug that they're only "usable" standing up, or only for small soft items, certainly not hulking great phones.

For a while, I tended to put my phone in one of the upper, buttonable pockets of a shirt/jacket I'd bought, but when that phone died, the only second hand phone with a keyboard I could find that I could afford was too big to fit into that. Now I have to keep the unloved bastard piece of poorly designed technology in my handbag if i want to be sure I won't lose it in my everyday routine. Between stupidly large sizing and stupidly user-unfriendly software, it's almost as if they don't want people to use mobile phones, IMHO. Grrr..

Flying to Mars will be so rad, dude: Year-long trip may dump 60% lifetime dose of radiation on you


Achey bones

The thought of being shipped to a world with just 40% of earths gravity to do research and help set things up for following crews actually sounds pretty good to me in a lot of ways - less problems with achey joints and feet (I'm in my 60s), I'd get to do useful science, the big dream of my childhood would be finally realised... - it;d only be social stuff that'd be a negative. I wouldnt care much about that kind of radiation dose, as I'm likely to check out before that'd get me anyway. I've had some degree level education in both physics and horticulture, and would be perfectly happy to have my corpse added to the biomass used to extend the amount of soil on Mars usable for growing food crops.

I've seen the future of consumer AI, and it doesn't have one


"We learn that "consumers may have had to open up six or seven apps to get the help they need cooking, including nutrition information, recipes, shopping lists, how-to videos, and remote control apps for various devices", but now they can "enjoy a single elegant journey"."

Really? people will mess with six or seven programs just to tell them how to cook a meal these days and turn a cooker on?! Blimey! I have some cookbooks on a shelf in my kitchen. On the rare occasion I feel I need help with cooking, I select an appropriate book, read up, then get on with things - including setting the manual controls on my cooking equipment to appropriate settings. MUCH simpler than all that app faffing about!

Fix this faxing hell! NHS told to stop hanging onto archaic tech


I'm completely bemused

I was going to make a snarky comment about the use of "farcical", as since I were a nipper, the word was always "farcial" (pronounced far-shul). It occurred to me to wonder whether there'd been a change in the spelling of the term denoting "having the quality of a farce" over the years, as language and spellings do drift over the years (I'm old enough to have seen "shew" used on a [ublic noticeboard - archaic spelling of "show"). To my surprise, so far as t'internet is concerned, "farcial" seems never to have existed - and yet I know it was in common use. Similarly, "having the quality of fantasy" was "fantastic" not "fantastical"

Did the good citizens of Bristol manage to hack the worlds online dictionaries and thesauri or have I drifted in from the universe next door and only just noticed - or has the cider finally rotted my brain?

Clap, damn you, clap! Samsung's Bixby 2.0 AI reveal is met with apathy


Uh, voice recognition is HOW good?

One of my netfriends in the US has no option but to use her phone for internet access as her only way of accessing the internet due to where she lives. And it would appear that she finds using voice recognition to be easier than using screen keyboards when in chat. A fair bit of the time it works reasonably well, but a feature of almost every chat session is the "guess what she ACTUALLY said" game.

Now, the recognition software often mangling user handles when she says them is to be expected, but when the conversation veers away from chat about mundane events which, aside from occasionally tripping up on the names of more obscure food items, it handles well, when the chat topic gets more boisterous/naughty the results are rather worse and occasionally hilarious (not to mention blushworthy for my friend).

Which, sympathy for my friend aside, I am actually quite pleased about. I'm not sure I'd feel comfy with a machine "understanding" humans to that level of intimacy, whether it be actual AI or just statistical analysis behind its parsing of what's being said (Uh - it understood that I meant THAT rather than the similar-sounding other? (shudder)). But then, I'm by inclination a smartphone refusenik that uses secondhand Blackbrerrys for their keyboards and is getting to hate them more as time goes by and I have to buy newer ones, due to the sheer crap that one can't get rid of thats on them. Their range really is getting less usable over time. I shudder to think how bad the most recent Blackberries must be, I can only hope that eventually some phone manufacturer will realise that quite a few folk want a non-"smart" phone with a proper keyboard for text entry.


Re: The latest industry - “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

Nah, it's the sound of your left hand impacting your bare right shoulder whilst your right hand is holding a glass of wiine and someone's just done or said something worthy of applause, and there isn't anywhere you can put your drink down on handily.

What? You mean you don't all wear little off the shoulder numbers? !

Some of you really don't want Windows 10's April 2018 update on your rigs


Re: Not my fault you can't use it right.

@werdsmith - see there's another thing - yer average user won't be trying to get a new piece of hardware working with anything.

If they're a Windows user, it'll likely have Windows drivers, and either it'll just work, or it'll have the kinds of Windows problems that I'm sure you all know and love.

If they're trying Linux for the first time, and Linux doesn't yet support their hardware, they'll find it doesnt work, and simply go back to using Windows.

What they generally won't do (because they're not daft) is try to struggle way out of their depth with technical stuff they don't understand. They'll either call in a friend they think might be able to help, or just shrug and go back to Windows and put up with Windows-style problems.

However, it's fairly rare, in my experience, for yer average user that's fed up with Windows and willing to give Linux a try to have bleeding-edge kit - which means that Linux probably supports their hardware fine. So they try it, find it easier (in the sense of less problematic) to use than Windows, and carry on using it happily.

(Shrugs) if you want to use brand new hardware that doesn't yet have Linux drivers, yes, you;re going to be better off using it with Windows. And this is a surprise because..?


Re: Use Linux...

DropBear - what the heck are you doing? Not only have I been using Linux at home for years with next to no problems, I've introduced several others of my generation (some of whom are great-grandparents now!) to Linux, and they're getting on with it just fine. Web browsing - fine, emails - fine, displays piccies of the grandkids fine, and if they need to type and print letters occasionally, Libre Office lets them do that with no problems too. And they're HAPPY to be out from under the problems that Windows was causing them. Even the bulk of gamers of my generation are reasonably well catered for now, with Steam.

I am utterly mystified by folk like you who claim Linux is some kind of unusable mess for the majority of folk when my experience is that so long as there isn't that one piece of software that ties them to using Windows, that Linux is much the better solution for non-IT-literate oldies.

I've asked presumably IT-literate folks here who've made similar cliams about Linux not being ready for the masses what sorts of problems they've been having before, and thus far none has responded. Given that when I first got started with Linux it startled the hell out of one of my much more technical workmates who claimed they'd been having problems getting it to work, (they were IT/network support, I was a helldesker)

One IT bod I knew who said they'd tried Linux but had hellacious problems with it had me in fits of laughter. It turned out that they had thought that the way to go about getting new software for Linux was the same as for Windows - ie: find something that does what you want out on the web, download it and install it - so they'd been trying to apply software from a mix of sources in varying packaging formats to their system, and, unsurprisingly, getting problems. They actually hadn't taken in that each distro has a repository of software usable on that distro. Their face when I talked them through using Synaptic was a picture. Indeed, explaining about the package manager is almost the only "training" I find I have to do when introducing newcomers to Linux. Most are utterly delighted that they can just select the program they want and have it be installed with no fuss, no reboots etc - and positively NO having to grab stuff from website and keeping your fingers crossed that what you've just downloaded isn't dodgy.

Anyway - I don't doubt that you're experiencing problems, and you have my symnpathy - but I can't help but thinking that such problems as you're having probably arent likely to be those of yer average user.

I predict a riot: Amazon UK chief foresees 'civil unrest' for no-deal Brexit


Re: Amazing truly amazing....

Well said, Fading! If I could give you a hundred upvotes, I would!


Re: Vogon

Mooseman, your slight of me is ludicously laughable. There is nothing in anything I said in my post to indicate that I do not like foreigners.

Neither did I say anything about limiting numbers of immigrantss, let alone Asian ones.

The one thing that you are correct on is that I do think it's unutterably rude to live in a country and refuse to try to speak its language. But we both know there's important differences between UK ex-pats in Spain and women from cultures where they are positively dissuaded by relatives from engaging with the colture they are surrounded by.

And, I'd remind you, I think the EU is a GOOD idea - as I stated. And I said that I stupidly voted in anger over something a German politician had said - io spell it out for you, I voted Leave due to something I;d heard a German politician say on the DWTV site, and on the spur of the moment voted Leave, then regretted it.

In short, you've done exactly what so many people seem to have done over that wretched referendum (which should never have taken place IMO), ie: decided on a caricature for everyone that voted one or other way, assumed it applies to everyone, then just slung mud irrespective of anything else.

It's exactly your kind of attitude to political debate that causes me to not want to engage in it much; because so few over here are willing to look at facts and see ALL the potential problems without making egregrious personal attacks on those who may feel things stack up differently, instead of calmily arguing/discussing the matter.

Personally, I prefer to try to get on with people around me. Any idiot can make enemies - it takes effort to make friends.


Re: Vogon

Thing is, ask enough people and you'll get all sorts of anomalies regarding that sort of thing. I'm now 60, and I know of several people who voted leave, every single one of them under 40. several with degrees, and one a company director. Hardly uneducated, but possibly atypical due to the vagaries of chance regarding whom I happen to know.

I, with a postal vote, and NOT following the news bar once in a blue moon, voted in blissful ignorance of the nature of the public debate on the matter, and did so (stupidly) in momentary annoyance at some remarks of a German politician. My concern regarding the EU was that all that politicians seemed to think about when it came to the matter of immigration was the economic impact. Not one seemed to be thinking about the social impact of parts of countries experiencing relatively swift influxes of poorly-integrated non-natives. When the cultures of those non-natives are too different to the local one, friction ensues (and please note, I'm not simply talking about what are generally (and incorrectly) seen as faith-based cultural differences).

I think the EU is a great idea that's been poorly implemented. I don't give a damn what country someone was born in, or what colour or faith they are, so long as they respect local laws and society. In particular, that they respect womens position in law in the UK - that we are not chattels and do not have to do what men tell us to, that we are free to marry whom we please and dress as we please here. Also that being gay isn't a crime in this country

I'd hazard a guess that the majority of immigrants to the UK get that. But some do not, and it's disturbing when one encounters women who've lived here for many years who can barely put a sentence together in English, or women who've run away from their families to escape an arranged marriage. It's damned annoying to experience being spoken to as if a whore by a guy of Asian descent because I had bare arms and an uncovered head one summer (and I overheat easily!), and a few months later have an eastern European guy angrily demand to know why I was wearing a headscarf (because it's freezing cold and I get migraine if my ears get too cold, prick!) - as to him, any woman covering her hair must be Muslim (which in his mind is only ever bad thing. Cretin!).

So my anger at untrammeled immigration was that there hasn't been sufficient effort - with associated costs - in ensuring that immigrants to the UK understand the native culture, respect it, and are willing to adhere to its laws and social norms. So no harassing women in the street for not adhering t some other cultures norms, no arranged marriages unless those to be married BOTH agree of their own free will, and CERTAINLY no female genital mutilation (nor male come to that), and if you don't like gay men and women, that's fine, just don't harass them and don't have sex with them, that's all.

The various Governments for decades haven't put enough effort into integrating immigrants, and companies typically don't give a damn about social issues so long as the labour is cheap. Well, IMO companies should be made to pay the social costs of the untrammeled migration that is so economically good for them..

Part of the problem, of course, is the sociopathic notion that people exist for the benefit of companies, when it ought to be the other way around. But that's a whole 'nother argument.

Anyway, so yes, with my postal vote, in a moment of anger and blissfully unaware of the public screaming-match that was going on on the subject, I voted to leave the EU, never imagining either that

(a) the leave vote would get anywhere near winning or that

(b) David Cameron was stupid enough to hold such a referendum without an already thought-out plan to deal with either of the possible outcomes or that

(c) if the purely advisory referendum resulted in a Leave victory, that the collectively dunderheaded Tories would then treat the thing as if it were legally binding and carved on stone like divine writ. And those young pro-Brexit voters I spoke of - felt pretty much the same as me, it turned out, when I spoke to them, and included amongst them people of widely varying ethnicities, countries and cultures of origin. In short, some of them were immigrants who appreciated our laws and culture and were as concerned about those who do not as I was and am.

Now, personally, when, about a week before the main vote took place, I became aware of the way the public discussion was being mishandled, I was apalled. I don't think I've ever encountered such cheerfully dishonest and abusive political campaigning on either side. But folk I spoke to, whether in favour of leaving or not, seemed generally rational and could make good arguments for their stances., it's just that their perceptions of what were the problems and plusses of the EU and how fixable the problems might be varied.

Yes, both side had lunatic fringes - that's a staple of all political campaigns. But to have a Government behave so ill-advisedly on the unexpected result that they were not prepared for of a non-binding referendum?! And to carry on doing so despite the clear stupidity of doing so and evidence of foreign interference in the pre-referendum campaign, no less!?

One thing Remainers have absolutely right - you can't change the system if you're not in it. The referendum result should've been a signal to HM Govt - and their counterparts in Europe - that there needed to be serious consultations with the populace of Europe, NOT the companies operating therein (who get way too much attention from politicians anyway), of what aspects of the way the EU is run that they did not like - and then serious consideration of how best to tackle those problems, followed by pragmatic action thereon based on the realities of the world rather than on anyones Utopian dreams.

Then again, maybe expecting politicians to behave rationally and in the interest of the populace they are supposed to represent is MY Utopian dream... sigh...

Official: The shape of the smartphone is changing forever


Blast from the past.

(Cough) Is this thing working? (Leans forward, taps screen). It is? OK...

Hello! Old biddy from the 1980's speaking! Seen from back 'ere, those things you lot in the future use that you call 'phones aren't really 'phones. They're portable computers that you sometimes make phone calls with.

What amazes me is that you happily pay umpty hundreds of quid for computers that you (OK: most folks, I don't mean YOU, PFY) have little real control over, when back 'ere in the 80's folk expected to actually own and have at least a modicum of control over anything they paid that much dosh for. Most folks don't use more than a fraction of the capabilities of the durned things, and yet those gadgets are sold promising ever more features because "more is better" (except when it comes to battery life, apaprently. Do you buy cars with half-pint petrol tanks, eh?!).

Most useful gadget I ever owned was a Psion II organiser. Battery life in weeks or months, easy to use diary and alarm functions, great for note tacking and as a calculator. I've never been so organised in my life as when I had one of those. Recreate one of those with yer modern technology, and just add the ability to to send text messages and make voice calls, and I'd be a very happy bunny indeed. What a camera? oh, add a little USB port and sell a camera module that can be plugged in at need. That'd sort it. Yes, I could live with a much-reduced battery life down to, say, a week per charge, no problem.

What's that? Sorry, you'll have to excuse me, I'm going a bit deaf in the right lug'ole.. Oh, you want to look at an internet on it? Whatever for?! You'll go blind trying to look at an internet on the small screens your modern contraptions have! Get youself a tablet or a proper netbook and save yer eyesight, is my advice! You might be grand with t'internet on yer "phone" now, but you give it another 40 years and tell me if I'm not right when your eyesights' had all that extra wear and tear on it!

Heck, even that funny-shaped Blackberry doodad I once will have had was going to be better as a phone than the crap you youngsters currently use! Fit in my hand nicely, and had a plastic holster that gripped your waistband. Good sensible solution! Proper keyboard, as well! You will have been able to get an internet on that, too! I'm going to have seen the launch of Spaceship 1 on that whilst skiving at work! Marvellous stuff! Not a patch on the Organiser for, well, organising me life though, but not bad, and had a replaceable battery too! You've all gone stark raving bonkers, IMHO!

Rightoh, I'm sure you don't want to be listening to an old biddy like me blathering on interminably about how much better things are back now, so I'll trundle off and leave you lot alone to play with your ithingies and androidicals. (sigh, shakes head sadly) Goodbye! Where's me Scocth gorn..? (mic thump, CLICK!)

Relive your misspent, 8-bit youth on the BBC's reopened Micro archive


The future ain't what it once was..

@Dave 126 - many thanks for hat link, Dave! Ah the future was so much better back then! I feel quite cheated, the way things have actually turned out!

Happy birthday, you lumbering MS-DOS-based mess: Windows 98 turns 20 today


Windows made me do it..

... a (L)user's tale...

Me and my t'other half had been very happy Amiga users, but as Commodore shot itself in the foot multiple times and support for the platform dwindled, clearly Something Had To Be Done. So we bought a Windows PC,running Win95. What a piece of excrement!

Joy at its ability to run new games we hadn't seen before soon gave way to frustration at how often it crashed. Don;t get me wrong, the Amiga would go into 'guru meditation' every now and then (usually only when playing games though - it was pretty solid when running applications), but it recovered gracefully and quickly. Not Win 95. I wondered whether there were other operating systems about that'd run on the hardware, bearing in mind I'd been messing about with computers since the days when just about every piece of kit had its own bespoke OS. At that point I didn;t find any alternative.

Then Win98 came along. I THINK we found that slightly better, then when SE came along, it was much better. But still flaky as hell compared to our experience with Amigas. Then we had WinXP, which was somewhat better again, and I think it was around this time that I came across Linux, and ended up buying a copy of Mandrake Linux. Which was - OK. Very stable, but the only games were the equivalent of Minesweeper etc. I set up our PC to dual-boot, and did anyything important (liek letter-writing) on the Linux side, and played games on the Windows side.

My partner was quite happy just using Windows, but I persisted in keeping an eye on developments in the Linux world, and to cut a long story short, went fully Linux after a few years (by then we each had our own PCs) and have been using Linux ever since. Not once has Linux lost any of my data, and the games situation just kept on improving.

Thanks to early versions of Windows being so awful,I missed the horrors of ME and Vista, and all the forcible UI-pratting-about that happened with Windows - except in the workplace. At home, computers were again easy to use, fun and entertaining and also did the important stuff well too. At work, it was the frustrations of being a Windows user or a helldesker for companies using Windows.

That's not to say that Linux was utterly without problems, but such as I experienced were either caused by myself pratting about, or by things like the KDE revamp, which pushed me into using Xfce instead. But that was the nice thing - I had the option to just install a different UI, an option Windows didn't give me by default. And crashes became a thing of teh past. Stuff Just Worked - and kept on working. I was, and am, a happy (L)user.

So thank you Windows - for some good games, and for otherwise being so horrid that I sought something better. Happy birthday, cheers!

Is your smart device a bit thick? It's about to get a lot worse


Quantum advertising?

This article (Great one, Dabbsy!) got me pondering whether perhaps advertisers have started harnessing the power of Quantum in their ad-slinging. I recall making a comment in El Reg's hallowed web pages whilst I was in my last job about being bemused at being shown adverts to do with lingerie and red diesel not long after zapping Firefox entirely and doing a clean re-install.

Now the lingerie ad was too late - I'm well into the comfy-knickers part of my life - but the red diesel might have been prescient. I'd never have guessed back then that I'd be sitting here today one year into a horticultural degree, having learned how to drive a tractor along the way.

So in my case, advertising AI correctly identified what I was (female) but not when I was, whilst in Dabbsy's case, it identified when he was but not what.. - it's quantum innit?

Within Arm's reach: Chip brains that'll make your 'smart' TV a bit smarter


Re: Wot Smart TV?

@MrXavia. correct, aside from YouTube. I do not watch TV. My desktop PCs with their ginormous 19in monitors (one apiece) are my home entertainment centres, not a TV. My PCs are already sufficiently smart to do all I require of them (including playing DVDs of films and shows that I've heard are worth watching). Sounds to me like this is yet another case of unecessarily overcomplicating things and adding extra potential points of failure and failure modes to a product that simply does not need it

Hmmn.. forgotten something, 'scuse me, minor senior moment..

- ah yes! (mutter grumble) bloody modern technology, it'll never catch on, getoffamylawn!. (nods off in mid-rant) zZzZzZzZz

It's true – it really is grim up north, thanks to Virgin Media. ISP fined for Carlisle cable chaos


Re: Marketing

@AC - same here. And months after Virgin Media stopped sending junkmail to Flat 6 after I wrote to them to let them know that there is no flat 6 here, the junk mail to flat 6 resumed (and I'm still getting junkmail from VM despite my having been with PlusNet (and prior in their incarnation as Tiscali) because their service is so damned good at a sensible price). I won't touch ANY Virgibn-branded product with a bargepole, for choice, it's simply a marque of shite quality all round IMHO. Damned shame as I recall how pleased I was with the quality of record pressings from the Virgin label back when beardy Branson's empire was just a record company.

You have GNU sense of humor! Glibc abortion 'joke' diff tiff leaves Richard Stallman miffed


I neither think it's much of a joke nor see any great problem with it. So long as the documentation is, overall, clear (ie: not buried beneath a morass of supposed witticisms) then I don;t see a problem. Not that I'm much inclination or need to look at software documentation more than once in a blue moon, but a smidge of humour here and there can actually help folk learn and remember stuff. I have no comment re Mr Stallman's personality - I do not move in those circles, havent read books by/about him, etc. I simply do not care - I'm a software user, not a techhie.

Double double, soil and trouble, fire burn and heat shield bubble: NASA cracks rover, has dirty talk with ESA


Re: get those rocks back to our home world.

@Orv - you're missing a trick - you may not not need to send all of the fuel needed for the return trip as payload to Mars. You could instead send just some hydrogen feedstock and a small chemical plant (IIRC from The Case for Mars, this wouldn't be very large at all, about suitcase sized) to create fuel from Mars' atmosphere. Thing is, once the lander gets to Mars, drills a hole and takes a sample, it isn't going anywhere for months - it has to wait until the next efficient Mars-Earth launch window. So you;ve plenty of time for the fuel plant to make the necessary propellant for the return trip.

I'm not 100% positive on this, but extrapolating from the Mars Direct plan for a manned Mars mission, it's possible that there's no need to send an orbiter AND a lander to Mars - just land the lot on the surface, which simplifies the mission, which then becomes - land everything on Mars, start fuel plant going, fire up drilling robot and send it on its way, place samples in return hold in main ship, return fuelled ship when Mars-Earth launch window arrives. No tricky orbital rendevous needed!

Turn that bachelor pad into a touch pad: Now you can paint buttons, sensors on your walls



I'm good with a light switch for my lights, and I have never understood why some folk like watching telly with the lights down or off (but then, too much contrast hurts my eyes). Seems like extra points of failure to me, just like remote-controlled lighting.

I also can't help wondering what might happen in a house party if a couple were snogging against the wall in a dark corner - they mightn't be best pleased if they accidentally turned the lights on!

Scissors cut paper. Paper wraps rock. Lab-made enzyme eats plastic


Re: shipping it around

Uh, when I was a child, my Mum used to get all her shopping in her shopping bag - which was generally made of a hard-wearing cord. If there was lots to get, she'd use a two-wheeled shopping trolley. Yes, stuff was often put into paper bags by the vendors, but those paper bags weren't generally intended to be what you carried them home in. IMO, plastic shopping bags were teh problem, as they offered a solution to those who found themselves wanting to purchase more than the pint of milk and loaf of bread they;d originally intended, and so had not bothered bringing their durable shopping bag along. Laziness did the rest. (And I've been as guilty as anyone else in that laziness in the past).

Go away, kid, you bother me: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla kick W3C nerds to the curb


Re: An Erotic Exotic Eastern Delight and Wild Wacky Western Treat In a PACT....

@amanfrommars1 - I'd stay off the stripey smarties and see the doc about that nasty case of bit-rot, if I were you...

Spring is all about new beginnings, but it could already be lights out for Windows' Fluent Design


MS;'s big mistake was in strongly coupling the GUI to the OS in the sense that they try to force users to accept a new GUI when they get a new version of Windows. Had they made their new ideas for GUIs options that one could try , rather than defaults that one had to work to get shot of if one didn't like them, then users would have been much happier.

That's one of the things I really like about Linux - the fact that there are multiple GUIs I can choose from and use whichever suits me best without having to ditch the entire OS.

Yes - I am aware that workplace deployment is a rather different kettle of fish from allowing home users freedom of choice, and that IT support bods probably wouldn't want their users to have too many GUI choices just so as not to wear down their sanity any faster than need be.. But as has been pointed out many times above, a UI usable on a large desktop screen isnt going to work well on a small phone touchscreen and vice-versa. Even if MS had simple options in the Settings for, say "Classic, Phone, Flavour-of-the-year" it'd be better (and I'm betting most folks would stick with Classic at work)

Right - back to my bottle of vino and bowl of popcorn whilst MS crashes and burns..

Facebook's inflection point: Now everyone knows this greedy mass surveillance operation for what it is


Re: Advertising is clever, subliminal.

@BlockChainToo +1 from me for that. What advertising agencies really dont; want people to realise, IMHO, is that if all advertising stopped with immediate effect, people would still be buying stuff.. They'd still be buying roughly the same monetary amount of stuff, because of the way the economic system works. In short, advertising as a whole is mainly a job employment scheme for people in the advertising industry, at consumer expense.

What advertising does best for those with products to sell is to (a) initially inform folk of the presence of new products available to buy and (b) occasionally shift customer spend from one product to another. Whilst, yes, there is data that shows that advertising can be 'effective', what one needs to know is what is actually meant by 'effective' in that context. An advertisers notion of 'effective' may not be the same as that of a retailer or a consumer, who may be using different metrics. and even if 'effective' is there a causal link? Hmmmnn

Sometimes the local shops stock odd brands one generally doesn't hear of, and some of them are pretty good, and thus get not only an initial sale out of curiosity from me, but repeat sales with no advertising involved simply because they are available to try and of adequate or good quality. Advertising isn't essential - and its utility is overblown, IMHO.

Zucker for history: What I learnt about Facebook 600 years ago


Re: The Four Yorkshiremen Sketch

@John Brown (no body) a web link? In an ee-lectronic calendar? Hellfire, tha's lucky! When I were a lass we had nowt but a slab of granite and a flint to inscribe notable dates onto it with!

I couldn't give a Greek clock about your IoT fertility tracker


Re: Antikythera Mechanism - dinousaurs

Yeah - that ruddy great crater by the Yucatan peninsula wasn't an asteroid, it was a Kerbal ship lithobraking!

Patent quality has fallen, confirm Euro examiners


There is no point in poor quality patents - such are bad for business, unless your business is being a patent troll or a lawyer. Poor quality patents result in increased costs to businesses generally, which is just about the opposite of what the EU wants. The sooner the farce at the EPO is halted and that dickhead currently in charge of it ousted and replaced by someone more interested in getting the job done properly than in mere numbers processed, the better.

Pasties in SPAAAAACE: Cornwall hopes for slice of £50m spaceport cash


Re: "..located in the area around Newquay airport and Goonhilly..."

I believe they;re looking at horizontal take-off access to space via Skylon, rather than Space X type access. In which case, whilst yes, a location nearer the equator is nice, but certainly not essential. The Russians walloped the Americans during the space race up until Apollo, and their launch sites were all further north than Florida.

But in any case - if thur bain't be pasties and cream teas in space, Oi bain't goin'!

Oculus Rift whiffed, VR fanbois miffed



Software As A Disservice?

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


Re: We don't need no education

@Bombastic Bob Hmmn. From this side of the Pond, seems to me that if the US has a very expensive educational system and yet gets poor results therefrom, that surely argues against having a privately run educational system, as companies inevitably charge as much as they possibly can for whatever service they're providing, in order to enrich shareholders. Whereas government is supposed to act in the best interests of ALL the citizens it represents, not just the wealthy few. (although given the US voting system is so open to abuse by wealthy organisations, I guess one could argue slightly the other way, but so far as I can tell the states individually have the same problem as the US as a whole, there..)

Still not seeing what your problem with the notion of human-created climate change is, Bob. Year on year, more data supports that we're having a warming effect on the climate, putting more energy into the system, and thus helping to drive more extreme weather events. One can work out the average amount of heat generated by (or on behalf of) each human on the planet, and as our population increases unless the power/heat generated goes down, the overall effect is to add heat to the planet, affecting our climate and weather. then there's the effect of gaseous pollutants, changes in albedo due to land use, etc. ..

Given that there were just 3,000 million people on the planet when I was born, and there's now more than that number of extra people on the planet, and that the rate of urbanisation has increased even faster, it just doesn't seem credible that there's be NO effect on weather/climate, Bob, which is the stance that you appear to be taking. And as someone not directly involved in the field (but with degree-level education), I have to apply Occam's Razor - if the bulk of scientists doing climate science say that human activities are causing effects on the climate that would not otherwise have happened, then the bulk are probably right, because so many capable minds have looked at the evidence, done the mathematics, checked, re-checked and come to the same conclusion.

Heck, I've had a turn-around in my own thinking about the size of population we might be able to feed thanks to a paper on urban farming that I've seen recently. To my extreme surprise, it does indeed look like technically we could feed far more folk than I'd thought. Whether or not we'll have the political will or let factionalism overcome simple humanity and do so or not is another matter, but technically, I can see that we're not necessarily as doomed on the feeding folk front as I had thought - because I've seen compelling evidence to the contrary.

Still not seeing compelling evidence against human-created climate change, though, Bob...

Who wants dynamic dancing animations and code in their emails? Everyone! says Google


So THAT explains it!

I wondered what the heck had happened at the BBC this last year or so.. this requiring a sign-in malarkey for every durned thing, I contacted the Beeb to ask why they were requiring a login in order for folks to use iPlayer when they hadn't for years, and they deliberately ignored my point and woffled on about 'personalisation' etc. SoI asked why one shouldn't be able to use iplayer exactly as before (ie: without signing in) if one doesnt want to have a 'personalised' experience, and they ignored that too. And I see that now teh buggers are requiring a login for the weather page if you want it to remember more than one location. And no response whatsoever to my pointing out that any large database will inevitably leak and/or get hacked.

Well, sod that - so I'm going TV-licence free, havent watched TV in months, and can't use iplayer now anyway ('cause I refuse to set up an account). But at least now I know what's happened at the Beeb - Aunty has been swept off her feet by a large supply of chocolates and is hooking up with a paramour that'll break her heart whenever Google wishes.

Sigh. This future world's more shite than I'd've expected back in proper time. Can I go back to my own timeline now, please? :-}

(exit stage left to the proper universe, whilst old biddy mutter-grumbling)

NASA's zombie IMAGE satellite is powered up and working quite nicely


Re: Ahh...the old 'drain the power...

@AC - it's OK, we know what to do with non-functional users around here..


-one user-rebooted.

Cattle-prods, the answer to so many of life's little problems...

Women beat men to jobs due to guys' bad social skills. Whoa – you mad, fellas? Maybe these eggheads have a point...


Re: Wow...

@Brewster's Angle Grinder - there's a caveat to that; other studies have shown that hormone levels in 'average' people tend to be have slightly negative effects compared with folk whose hormone levels (whether of testiosterone or oestogen) are unusually low. One study I saw even appeared to show a slightly higher normal IQ in folk who are hormonally nearer the middle than average males and females.

So it could well be that the testosterone per se doesn't induce fairness - it;s the dragging of the average hormonal environment to the centre that does. (I would add that my personal experiences seem to confirm this)

RIP Ursula K Le Guin: The wizard of Earthsea


Re: A good read?!

Feminism is not about belittling men; it is about improving the lot of humanity. That it is called feminism is because the world the movement was born into was one that was so heavily skewed against women. My grandmother was born legally a chattel of her husband, my mother never had any chance of similar pay to men, whilst I never quite reached parity with male employees for doing the same work - this in the UK. Violence against women is rife worldwide, and this needs to stop, as does harmful attitudes towards men and what their role in society 'should' be. Yes, Le Guin's writing was feminist. I do wish those who criticise feminism would take the trouble to actually find out what it is about!


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