* Posts by FelixReg

82 posts • joined 7 Nov 2007

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I'm a crime-fighter, says FamilyTreeDNA boss after being caught giving folks' DNA data to FBI

FelixReg

Re: Proof of ownership?

That's a very good point.

Currently, probably most people think a 3rd party DNA upload is sketchy behavior. That thought seems supported in part because DNA is still magical stuff to us. Most people don't feel comfortable playing with magical stuff that may be dangerous.

From another view, is it sketchy behavior to upload a picture of another person? In many ways, a picture is more personal and carries more information than the DNA information these sites use. How long do you figure it will be before someone starts building "AI" systems to figure out, given a large group of pictures, who is the child or parent of who?

Welcome to the global village.

DNAaaahahaha: Twins' 23andMe, Ancestry, etc genetic tests vary wildly, surprising no one

FelixReg

Re: These mail-in genetic tests are crap

Hey! Let's hear the rest. Where was his other 50% from? :)

FelixReg

Re: No surprise

@Wellyboot : Well, "silly" is in the eye of the beholder. How about entertaining? As evidenced by the number of people who have plunked down $50 to $100 to be entertained.

There certainly are objective DNA differences around Europe. And, if your location-DNA info is from recent enough, you're likely to have cultural idiosyncrasies from your DNA location. That can be interesting to ponder.

As others have mentioned, a lot of the interest in DNA ancestry comes from "immigrant nations". Where did those old folks come from? For instance, ancestry can be particularly interesting to Negros in the Western Hemisphere whose families go back to slave ships. What other way than DNA is there to get a line on where your ancestors lived in Africa? Sure, we're not talking about particularly useful information (at this time), but that doesn't stop a person from being quite curious. Those various African source locations were a loooong way apart geographically and DNA-ly. Curiosity! Which one(s) did your folks come from? Makes history and geography come alive.

FelixReg

No surprise

There are several misled comments here.

The DNA tests don't confuse fraternal and identical twins. Therefore, forget whether you think these two women are identical. They are. Or are being purposely misleading.

The DNA outfits report around 600,000+ "SNPs" - pairs of molecules (one from each parent) that are of 4 types, labelled "A", "G", "C", and "T". The DNA companies choose their 600k+ SNPs from our 3.5 billion SNPs. The ones they choose vary in A, G, C, and T value between different humans. Almost all of our 3.5 billion SNPs are the same for all of us.

Each company chooses a different set of SNPs to report. 23andMe has reported at least two different sets of SNPs, depending on when you did their test. I've found Ancestry,com and 23andMe tests have from 100K to 300K of the same SNPs between any two test/versions (out of the 600k+ each test reports).

Two tests for the same person vary by only a handful of SNPs. That is, there is noise, but it's not very loud. Different companies' tests report different SNP values, too. Again, very quiet noise.

The serial killer thing in the article used these DNA kit results. Crime labs use something quite different.

"Ancestry" or "ethnicity" is calculated using fancy arithmetic. Different companies do, indeed, report different "ancestries". As would be expected. Issues, among others:

1) Different SNPs between companies and company-versions.

2) Ancestor? When? These guys generally are shooting for a few hundred years ago in Europe, not thousands. But outside Europe? Read on.

3) How much (if any) data backs up "ancestry"? You can't find what you don't know. These outfits have SNP combo examples from south-south-eastern Duchy of Euroland, but have bupkus for much of the world. Only recently have they started differentiating Siberia from Chile, for instance. And Siberia and Chile diverged over 10 thousand years ago!

4) Ancestry calculations depend on knowing which AGCT of the SNP pairs go to which parent. That's rather a trick to know when you don't have DNA data for either parent. The article doesn't say whether these women got their mother or father to do a test so such information could be nailed down.

The FDA doesn't care about "ancestry" reports. They "FDA'd" 23andMe a few years ago because of health reports. 23andMe has since jumped through the FDA hoops and now benefits from the usual lack-of-competition regulation causes. Don't hold your breath waiting for useful health information from these DNA tests.

I'm Scandinavian to two of the DNA outfits, Brit to one of them, and changed from Scand to Brit at a fourth outfit a year ago. Smaller percentages change often. These guys are busy tweaking their code and data.

23andMe, for one, allows you to choose how reliable you want their ancestry information to be. The article doesn't say anything about the settings these two women used. If you want 23andMe's most reliable report, don't expect a lot of specific ancestry information. "Northern Europe", folks. Or "African". Sort of at the level our eyes see without close examination.

Hope this helps.

Bruce Schneier: You want real IoT security? Have Uncle Sam start putting boots to asses

FelixReg

A 30 year old device with no manufacturer

Remember, before you flame your solution to the problem, IoT manufacturers have a life span, too.

The correct solution is regulation to the extent that nothing new is manufactured. Or, since the effect of regulations is to limit competition, regulate manufacturers down to 1. That way, nothing could possibly go wrong.

It may be poor man's Photoshop, but GIMP casts a Long Shadow with latest update

FelixReg

Re: First thoughts on Straighten

@smudge Worry about shipping around the world was one reason why I tested with a small batch for each of the two big runs I did. My first ~10,000 slide run were slides from a recently deceased parent.

So far as I know all slides went through Bangalore. Took a month or so. The movies where done in Fremont, probably. The pics, I'm not sure. They took a while, like the slides.

The pics came back in better shape than I sent them. Pictures from around 1900 can be difficult to send and I'm not the world's best packer. I shipped in boxes, each with around 5000 slides in them, plus some pics, etc.

I do know when one of the 8mm movies came out blank (no surprise, I'd already seen that, but lazily put it in the big box anyway.) they sent back an overhead video of the unpacking and handling procedure along with apologies. What I figured from that video was:

1) They probably video all handling.

2) The video showed a professional-level production setup.

Yeah, I was impressed. Surprisingly, they did recover the other videos, in very bad shape as they were.

Also, I'd done quite a bit of experimentation myself using two or three methods and equipment, etc. And, some of my own slides I'd had done by a pro photography place long ago at something like a buck or two a slide. ScanCafe's results were notably superior to all methods I tried.

FelixReg

Re: First thoughts on Straighten

@smudge I've digitized 10000 to 15000 slides and also some pictures and a handful of 8MM movies from the 1930's. All through ScanCafe. They have regular sales with considerable discounts. I have no other connection to them except being a happy customer who tells friends and relations to go that route. (Note: I'm the type of person who gives 4 stars if a product is completely satisfactory. 5 stars mean, "Wow!")

I ran a few dozen or so slides and pics through ScanCafe first to evaluate.

Hope this helps.

Wearable hybrids prove the bloated smartwatch is one of Silly Valley's biggest mistakes

FelixReg

Re: Still need that "killer app" ?

The unique feature a watch provides is the time and date. Instantly. Fusslessly.

Checking a phone for the time or date is a hassle. Try in in the middle of a game. Even during a time out. Your phone's off-court in a bag. Try it climbing a gonzo hill. Try it driving when the car's clock is light-washed. And, if you're doing anything more exuberant than sitting at a desk, your phone might be securely tucked in somewhere not easy to slip out.

Battery? A $15 Casio's battery lasts longer than the pins that keep the band on. And longer than the band, itself. And such a watch can be on you 24x7. No fuss. No muss.

Killer app other than the time? Fashion. Apple, Rolex, and other jewelry outfits have that covered. Boring.

Indictment bombshell: 'Kremlin intel agents' hacked, leaked Hillary's emails same day Trump asked Russia for help

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US gov quizzes AI experts about when the machines will take over

FelixReg

Re: I suppose it's appealing if you could do with some more yourself

<robotic_voice> _ _ _ Human, I see you are resting your case. Do you wish for me to carry it? _ _ _ </robotic_voice>

Ahem! Uber, Lyft etc: California Supremes just shook your gig economy with contractor ruling

FelixReg

Looked at the other way

A driver who uses Uber and Lyft both to get customers and to handle certain other administrivia is an employee of both Uber and Lyft?

Uber breaks self-driving car record: First robo-ride to kill a pedestrian

FelixReg

Re: Clear cut...

Alan, you seem to have more information than the rest of us. How did you know the Uber car didn't slow down for the pedestrian?

Also, it was news to me that Arizona was like the Eastern US with regards to pedestrian right-of-way. I always assumed they were like the other Western states, which have very different customs and laws from the East. But then, from my limited experience, I would have thought that Europe in general and the UK in particular were more like our East coast: Walker beware. Certainly the attitude of a London cabbie toward my walking behavior on my first visit to that area told me to assume cars there were out to get me. I was young and grew up in the West. It was a learning experience.

It's Pi day: Care to stuff a brand new Raspberry one in your wallet?

FelixReg

Re: Dates

The dashes fix an ambiguity problem. 12031102? Nov 2, 1203 or Dec 3, 1102 or March 12, 1102. It's very, very rare to find YYYY-DD-MM. So if you're interpreting human generated dates, the dashes pretty much force YYYY-MM-DD. And YYYY-M-D is easily interpreted as a bonus.

As others have noted, file names really, really want to be in numeric, YYYY-MM-DD order. Take note when you supply your users the file name when they download from you!

Venezuela floats its own oily cryptocurrency to save the world economy

FelixReg

Re: Are sanctions effective?

Thanks, all, for the comments and information helping to answer this question.

FelixReg

Are sanctions effective?

Aside from Serbia during the Yugoslavian break up, have sanctions ever been effective?

They have certainly been ineffective. Castro/Cuba comes to mind. NK comes to mind. Iran comes to mind. Iraq comes to mind. The Soviet Union comes to mind.

I've always wondered whether sanctions were something championed by closet Marxists in the US government. Incompetents, that is. Never ascribe to malice ...

Oh, sanctions *do* give the sanction-ee an excuse - someone to blame. The OP's list of excuses for Venezuela's condition may have missed a minor detail or two, after all.

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

FelixReg

Re: DTA world?

Thanks Simon.

Solution: Blockchain. :)

FelixReg

DTA world?

In other words, what does that mean?

FelixReg

Commenters can only think of bad uses for new tech

Sign of a civilization in decline?

And, from a group (Reg readers) who purport to be technologically adept?

Here's a use case I put some work in to in 1990: Language learning. Consider how nice it would be if, when you're learning a language, you heard your own voice, as you hear yourself, speaking with a native accent in the new language.

Fellow reader, stop watching Hollywood post-apocalyptic zombie junk and channel your inner entrepreneur. You can come up with good uses for this tech.

Google's cell network Project Fi charged me for using Wi-Fi – lawsuit

FelixReg

Looks like I'll soon be seeing a RED BANNER when using cell data

First question would be, "How many users think they have been charged for WIFI?"

Second question would be, "How many users think they are using WIFI, when, in fact, they were using cell data?"

Subtract answer #2 from #1 before paying lawyers to class-action themselves to a paycheck.

Disengage, disengage! Cali DMV reports show how often human drivers override robot cars

FelixReg

Re: Optimistic

From the Tesla report:

Additionally, because Tesla is the only participant in the program that has a fleet of hundreds of thousands of customer-owned vehicles that test autonomous technology in “shadow-mode” during their normal operation ..., Tesla is able to use billions of miles of real-world driving data to develop its autonomous technology. In “shadow mode,” features run in the background without actuating vehicle controls in order to provide data on how the features would perform in real world and real time conditions. This data allows Tesla to safely compare self-driving features not only to our existing Autopilot advanced driver assistance system, but also to how drivers actually drive in a wide variety of road conditions and situations.

Put another way, Tesla is Big-Brothering their cars and can conduct a Delphi Poll on what a good driver does in very, very many circumstances.

FelixReg

Re: The "Kitty Hawk" moment

Great video! Self-driving cars are way, way beyond those early flight efforts. Here's an ancient (1 year old) video from Cruise, put out to encourage talent to apply for jobs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tA_VvHP0-s

FelixReg

Optimistic

Read through these reports. In particular, Waymo and Cruise. They are logging the most miles and their trend is clear. The latest reported months have a lot more miles and a lot fewer disengagements.

Cruise notes why they drive in Frisco instead of other places: It's a harder environment than suburbia or highways, so they learn faster.

Remember, these guys *want* disengagements. Each disengagement can be gone over like an airliner crash. Replayed millions of times, varying the parameters. When you run out of disengagements, you have a problem learning, don't you?

Universal basic income is a great idea, which is also why it won't happen

FelixReg

The world owes me a living ... wage.

You get what you pay for. Paying people not to work seems an odd thing to do.

A UBI may be a more honest and transparent alternative to current welfare systems. But it does make governments and taxpayers appear to be bad parents. Hey, kid, "The world does own you a living. Money does grow on trees. There is a free lunch."

'We think autonomous coding is a very real thing' – GitHub CEO imagines a future without programmers

FelixReg

COBOL again?

Yep, I remember reading an article in Datamation, the main magazine for data processing types back in the late '50's or so.

The article touted this great new thing, COBOL. COBOL would change the world. COBOL meant future managers could write their own programs rather than relying on pesky programmers!

The article's prediction was correct.

As time went on, "programmers" became indistinguishable from the "managers" of the article writer's imagination. And they wrote programs in COBOL.

Too, what programmer out there has not been in the business of writing a replacement for themselves at some time?

GitHub is, like the Internet, a huge advance in productivity. We're all richer because of them. Good deal.

The future of Python: Concurrency devoured, Node.js next on menu

FelixReg

python 3 is off track

I love Python.

But it doesn't run in the browser, despite some tries.

And it doesn't run under Android, despite some tries.

Concurrency can be a problem in Python, but that's true of pretty much all languages. The spiffs of Python 3 are tangential to it being usable in a browser and under Android. So they are irrelevant for Python's future prospects.

Anyway, Python3 is simply another language than Python2. It's "easy" to translate Python2 in to various languages, including Python3. But doing so is work. Grunt work. Overhead. Friction.

Google and its terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week in full

FelixReg

Kieren, thank you for avoiding profanity this time

This posting will probably not attract many comments, though. :)

BTW, you might expand on your note in the profane article as to why Google software people would be male. (Morons and geniuses are male. You noted Google tries to hire geniuses.)

Software dev bombshell: Programmers who use spaces earn MORE than those who use tabs

FelixReg

Maybe experience teaches you to not use tabs

I've seen source code hard tabs for all indents from 2 through 11.

Guessing the value for given file is not fun.

Tabbed source is smaller on disk than spaced? Good to know. My 128k floppies will like tabbed code.

Robot lands a 737 by hand, on a dare from DARPA

FelixReg

Ooops

About 1:11 it seems old Otto kinda bumped the yoke without meaning to. True?

Google's video recognition AI is trivially trollable

FelixReg

Did you assume my gender?

We can't assume the purpose of the ML these guys used was to find the tiger. What if the purpose was to find the anomalous Audi? This is a general problem philosophers have been working on since forever.

Think: optical illusions. Is it possible to build a machine that's without such illusions?

BMW chief: Big auto will stay in the driving seat with autonomous cars

FelixReg

Cars built by an OEM

Is it possible that some car manufacturer will end up building cars to spec? Rather like a chip foundry?

Robots are killing jobs after all, apparently: One droid equals 5.6 workers

FelixReg

Re: Validate the study

Violence has gone down during and after industrialization. Yes, violence continued well in to the 20th century in "industrialized" areas. Violence even exists today. Violence and other bad things have been limited as the world has learning-curved earlier industrial revolution processes.

""Millions, millions and millions."" Did you mean that to imply three equal thirds of a total? It does.

Let's adjust this:

Billions prospered.

At this point (half way through the industrial revolution, worldwide), 1 billion out of 7 are living no better off than Americans 120 years ago - post most of the "industrial revolution" as many think of it. The other 6 are in relatively good shape and getting better at an incredible clip. Expect that top 80+% to be at or above your material level in a generation or so. That sounds to me like a very pretty model.

"...poverty in the U.S." 160 years ago people starved to death in places that are, today, very, very rich. (I'm thinking of Ireland, in particular.) Where are the millions of starving, bloated bellies in the U.S.?

Humans are diverse, if only in age. So 10%, or 5%, or 50%, or whatever percent is half of our own material percentage, or whatever is double our percentage if we prefer to think of ourselves as poor - will always be "poor". That's math. Crying in our beer won't help.

FelixReg

Validate the study

As others have noted, there's nothing new about "robots". Automation has been a big economic factor in many places for a couple hundred years.

So it might be interesting to apply the techniques this study used to earlier time periods. To validate the study's techniques and assumptions.

As onlookers we can do likewise with our mental models of the effects of automation.

FelixReg

Re: Analysis?

"When I see someone say there needs to be a retraining program they often ignore the fact that many do not have any real skills for the new jobs."

Huh? Retraining programs are *based* on the assumption that "many do not have any real skills for the new jobs".

Another base assumption of retraining programs is that people can be trained. Apparently, you think training is "likely to be a complete failure." Perhaps you're right. But, others may disagree.

Is that a phone in your hand – or a gun? This neural network reckons it has it all figured out

FelixReg

Re: So at a little above 5fps it can identify that someone pointing a gun at the camera...

Half that gig. The "parameters" would probably be 32-bit floats, but there are ways to cut that down, too.

The "parameters" are generally multipliers stashed in a GPU's memory and divvied up in parallel to however many computation units the GPU has (in the 1 to 3 thousand range nowadays for a single, good GPU card).

Congratulations IBM for 'inventing' out-of-office email. You win Stupid Patent of the Month

FelixReg

Compton's encyclopedia

Have a ball scanning the "patent citations" in this thing. They start in 2003. Apparently email was new then.

And what a cluster of jokes!

They seem to be like the infamous Compton's patent, one of the first software patents. Compton seemed to take a typical system description document, such as big organizations make before beginning any project, and put it in patent-ese form and language. Viola! A novel idea. Which, hey, maybe it was novel to the talent at Compton's, apparently unfamiliar with computers. Or unfamiliar with an "electronic computing device", which back in the '70's or so was what you sprinkled your description of the wheel with to make it novel and patentable.

Wanna speculate on how may patent applications there are right now sprinkling their software descriptions with "machine learning" or some such blather to make blatantly obvious ideas able to support the livelihood of patent lawyers?

Sprinkling patent applications with accepted buzzwords is one of a plurality of novel methodologies my (patent pending) automated patent generation system employs. My novel buzz-sprinkle method, utilizing machine learning technology, will be for sale as soon as it passes review. As will my novel neural-net based buzzword identification and extraction method used to support the buzzword sprinkle ... blah, blah, blah.

Autonomous cars are about to do to transport what the internet did to information

FelixReg

Re: Instead of delivery, build on-site

"Mindless extrapolation..."

Quite.

Which is why one tries to keep the mind alive when doing this sort of thing.

Personal experience says that such extrapolations can predict with uncanny accuracy. The uncanny part comes from:

1) The curves are exponential. The mind does not do exponential well, normally.

2) Though others see apples and oranges, the prediction is about fruit - fruit-ness that others somehow miss.

FelixReg

Re: Just wait...

Unlike now when accidents don't involve lawyers?

FelixReg

Instead of delivery, build on-site

In the '70's the turn-around time for running a program was often 24 hours. A decade ago, 30 years later, mechanical engineers could "build" a thing using CAD/CAM and 24 hours later the physical thing would magically appear on their desks.

If the curve for such custom, physical builds follows that of computer programs, we're talking Star Trek replicator tech in the mid '30's or so. 3D printer enthusiasts may nod their heads and say, "Duh".

There will be racing tension between those who build on-site and those who ship finished goods.

The future is fun if you're not frozen in a hand-wringing, Hollywood angst world.

Bee boffins prove sesame-seed brain is all you need to play football (well, that explains a lot)

FelixReg

Generalization or missing the point

The paper seems to be behind a pay-wall, so it's not clear whether the evidence of generalization (e.g. the bees pushing a closer, differently colored ball than what they've seen pushed) is truly generalization or whether it's that the bees just don't notice the "closeness" or "color" of the ball.

Put another way, how do you distinguish cluelessness from deep thought?

Google floats prototype Key Transparency to tackle secure swap woes

FelixReg

Re: Explanation?

The blog post links to https://github.com/google/key-transparency/

US election pollsters weren't (very) wrong – statistically speaking

FelixReg

Re: Mandatory Voting

@Iglethal - Um. They are making their choice. They chose not to vote. You may not like their choice. I may not like their choice. But, hey, we can deal with a horse who won't drink.

FelixReg

Re: Mandatory Voting

Good idea. That way you make sure to count the votes of those who don't care. Say, giving them two votes is even better! They are, after all, less likely to be influenced by opinion news, and fake news, right?

Or.

Instead, go for the highest quality voters rather than the lowest. Allow voters to save their votes. If you don't vote this election, next election you have two votes. And so on.

Unlucky Luckey: Oculus developers invoke anti-douchebag clause, halt games for VR goggles

FelixReg

Re: Americans, again not realising there's a world outside them

Someone told me "Eva Peron or Biff".

The dev-astating truth: What's left to develop? Send in the machines

FelixReg

Re: Trying to get rid of those nasty expensive devs again.

Yep, DrStrangeLug. Scan through Datamation magazine in the late '50's, early '60's era. You'll find an article telling managers COBOL is going to let managers program the computer directly without needing those odd-ball, troublesome, different-from-you programmers.

The article was right! Just try to distinguish a post-50's corporate data processing programmer from a '50's manager in thoughts, understanding and attitude.

Ivory tower drops water bombs on dumpster fire

FelixReg

Why they seem so bad

We should not forget that our opinions about these two are a distillation of what we see and hear through the media. And, with the Internet making it easy for even right wing people to live in an echo chamber, much of what we "know" is bad-mouthing by the candidates' opponents.

So instead of a choice between two very capable, successful people whose plans for the US administrative branch may not align well with our personal opinions, we have a choice between Eva Peron and Biff.

If you know what's good for you, your health data belongs in the cloud

FelixReg

Re: What an utter load of tripe

So, without 100%, 24/7 connectivity, a notification system has the value of tripe?

Interesting.

Lost in the obits: Intel's Andy Grove's great warning to Silicon Valley

FelixReg

Re: The problem is the natural outgrowth of legislation, at least in the US.

MD Rackham: You're promoting child labor, aren't you?

Can't speak for AC, but I do. It really bugged me that my kids could not legally work, AKA "Do things for other people." It was both cute and sad when one daughter would regularly ask for a job when we were out and about. She was pre-teen and didn't understand why she could not do what she saw others doing.

Sure, most classic kid jobs are long gone. Especially those matching our weird images of "child labor" - working 27 filthy, dangerous hours a day for a bowl of gruel. But get rid of these antiquated laws to find out whether there are age appropriate jobs that kids *can* do. Kids would be much better off.

Smartphones help medicos, but security is a problem

FelixReg

Re: Sending medical images via MMS

To be fair, it's hard to spot a HIPPA violation in your 2014 story.

HIPPA is written-out common sense with some oddities regarding federal prisoners. But, HIPPA is not interpreted in the spirit of common sense. Bureaucrats are not fired for making work for other bureaucrats.

"cost insensitive business"? Let me fix that: "cost enhancing business". See the previous paragraph for one minor example.

One more fix: "solution to this will be" -> "solution to this was". Past tense.

Third of US banks OK with passwords even social networks reject

FelixReg

Are special characters and upper case a good idea

Or is it better just to add another character to your password?

It might be interesting to test this. Have a site that forces 1/3rd of the users to jump through the special-case-sensitive-character hoop, 1/3rd of the users to enter what they want, and force 1/3rd of the users to enter 1 or 2 more characters than whatever the middle third are required to enter. Then look at the passwords chosen by each group. Which are more crackable? By a machine.

Linux Mint hacked: Malware-infected ISOs linked from official site

FelixReg

Re: md5?

Something that's often forgotten is you don't have to create a file with a perfectly matching MD5 or SHA1. All you need is a file with hashes that match at the beginning and end, and for enough of the other hex digits to *look* ok.

Though semi-matching *two* independent hashes would be a neat trick for the bad guy to pull. I'd worry that MD5 and SHA1 are not particularly independent, though. They are algorithmically close.

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