* Posts by Filippo

679 posts • joined 24 Nov 2007

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Trumping free trade: Say 'King of Bankruptcy' Ross does end up in charge of US commerce

Filippo

These movements get backed by openly racist groups. It is not a coincidence.

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Auto emissions 'cheatware' scandal sparks war of words between Italy, Germany

Filippo

"companies are more-or-less separate to the state"

Not in Italy, they ain't.

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Brother-and-sister duo arrested over hacking campaign targeting Italy's bigwigs

Filippo

Re: Excuse me?

At the network speeds we get around here, it's probably faster to ship 87 gigabytes by plane than by wire.

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Maps and alarm clocks best thing about mobes, say normies

Filippo

Actually, polling 20000 people by contacting them online would result in a far _worse_ poll.

2000 is already a very good sample size and increasing it tenfold would have basically no effect on accuracy. On the other hand, doing most of the contacts online would grossly skew the sample towards people who respond to Internet polls, and I'm pretty sure that has correlations with smartphone usage.

Hint: when it comes to polls, size is nearly irrelevant, randomness is everything. Statistics is not that hard, but it IS extremely counterintuitive. That's why its results get constantly abused.

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Peace-sign selfie fools menaced by fingerprint-harvesting tech

Filippo

Re: For the 1,000th time

True, it depends on what's being secured and against whom. Fingerprints are not secure enough to be used to launch nuclear missiles, but they are also not secure enough to be used to start my car. They are not secure enough to be used to access my bank account. They are also not secure enough to be used to unlock my phone, if my phone contains any data worth stealing.

The problem is that they are being used for all of that and more, where in reality they are only good enough to access low-impact services for which the main defense is that nobody really cares about impersonating you.

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Microsoft's Blue Screen of Death dead in latest Windows 10 preview

Filippo

I'd normally not bother answering, but if you really are genuinely curious - the name of the file where the fault occurred, the name of the error, and the error code are actually very useful. Several times, they allowed me to pinpoint which bit of hardware was faulty or which driver was buggy.

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You have the right to be informed: Write to UK.gov, save El Reg

Filippo

Re: re. Quadsys

Under the rules described in the article, it's easy. They just need to file a lawsuit.

They cannot win, because, as you notice, the journalist is just repeating public documents. But they don't need to win. With the new rules, the journalists will pay the legal fees even if the suit is obviously frivolous. So, they just need to rack up enough legal fees to cripple the journalists.

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Amazon files patent for 'Death Star' flying warehouse

Filippo

I'm hereby establishing prior art for fulfillment centers in geosynchronous orbit, armed with drop-pods.

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Microsoft scores nearly $1bn non-compete contract with US military

Filippo

Re: Might want to check...

"I'm curious is DOD is compiling the code or just glances over it."

Knowing how this sort of stuff tends to go, my bet would be neither.

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White House report cautiously optimistic about job-killing AI

Filippo

Self-service checkouts are slower than human checkout. I really don't see how it could be any other way. At a self-service checkout you're doing exactly the same operations that the human employee would do, except that the human employee is a pro and will always do those things with near-maximal efficiency, while a customer will always waste time searching for barcodes and reading what's on the screen.

The only way self-service checkouts, as they are designed now, can be better for the customer is if you put so many of them that queuing times are drastically reduced.

Now, if they ever figure out how to let people pay without taking objects out of the cart and scanning them individually, that would change things.

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Filippo

Re: Welcome to the future!

What? That *did* happen. I do industrial automation; my last job was at a factory that can be operated at full efficiency by 2 people, but even just 1 can do in a pinch. Re farm jobs, I have software that makes food for pigs out of raw materials and feeds them according to nutrition requirements and schedule, can be operated by 1 person leaving time to spare. At another place, where I just automated some data stuff, integrating some systems that used to only talk via paper, eyeballs and keyboards, the owner outright told me that he was cutting the size of that office from 5 to 3. Just to be clear, these are not outliers; most companies in those fields are like this. There's no way in hell any of that could have happened in the 1950s.

Sure, there are a lot of jobs that computers didn't take, and AI hasn't really done anything yet, but stating that "none" of the computers ran away "any" of those low-skilled workers since the 50s is a statement that sounds positively surreal to me.

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Blue sky basic income thinking is b****cks

Filippo

Re: He missed the point

I pay tax, and violence will happen if I don't pay tax. Also, I don't steal, and violence will happen if I steal. Jailing thieves is not immoral, and enforcing taxation is also not immoral.

Maybe you think taxation is implicitly immoral. That's an interesting opinion. Regardless, you don't get to pick which bits of the social contract you subscribe to; a social contract is kind of an all-or-nothing deal. And most of the good ones currently feature taxation; you can get some with no taxation, but they tend to be really bad in other areas.

Attempting to get only the bits of a social contract you like, while ignoring the ones you don't like, is in itself an action that warrants punishment. Just like for any other contract.

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Botched Microsoft update knocks Windows 8, 10 PCs offline – regardless of ISP

Filippo

quick fix

It's not a UK-only problem.

I've found that the easiest way to fix this over the phone is to hold SHIFT while doing a system shutdown. This will force a non-fast boot, which clears the issue. Not sure if the fix is permanent, though.

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Busted Windows 8, 10 update blamed for breaking Brits' DHCP

Filippo

Easier solution

There is an easier solution. Hold down SHIFT while doing a system shutdown. Then restart the machine. This will clear the issue.

It's slower than netsh because it requires a reboot, but it's WAY easier to describe over the phone to a clueless user.

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Renewed calls for Tesla to scrap Autopilot after number of crashes

Filippo

98%

Uhm, so 2% of users do NOT understand that they are supposed to maintain control of the vehicle at all times? That's quite a lot of people. No wonder there's a number of crashes.

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Vegans furious as Bank of England admits ‘trace’ of animal fat in £5 notes

Filippo

Re: Fighting your way to the top of the food chain?

All of those things are only "inefficient" in the context of one very specific and arbitrary definition of "efficiency". The truth is indeed far more complicated than that.

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Emulating x86: Microsoft builds granny flat into Windows 10

Filippo

I don't think being able to run legacy x86 code on phones is that important. Those legacy line-of-business applications were designed for desktop PCs; nevermind binary compatibility, they won't work on a phone because they weren't designed for phones. I don't think that many people have *real* use cases for this.

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The sharks of AI will attack expensive and scarce workers faster than they eat drivers

Filippo

Re: But what if the patient moves?

The answer is yes, they can correct for patient movements, faster and more accurately than the human.

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McDonald's sues Italian city for $20m after being burger-blocked

Filippo

Re: *GOOD*

I expected the thumbs down (though I didn't expect someone would think I was quoting the US constitution, wtf?). I'll give honest discussion a shot. So, here's the concept again, more clearly explained:

I don't like McD and I'm not defending it. But there is a principle at stake here that is more important than hamburgers. That principle is that mayors cannot ban businesses just because they don't like them. And, make no mistake, this is exactly the point here. Florence is not banning McD because of the yellow arches, or they would just say "no yellow arches". They are also not banning McD because hamburgers aren't from Tuscany, or they'd have to ban pizzas too. Florence is banning McD because the mayor doesn't like McD for political reasons. Except that he can't do that because we have freedom of enterprise and "I don't like big American corporations" is not a social goal that can override that.

So, he is making up a specious reason to ban McD. That is what I'm railing against. If you let this sort of abuse slide just because you also dislike McD, you're greasing a slippery slope.

And, in fact, that slope IS here, it HAS been greased, and things ARE slipping on it, because there are other cities where the *exact same argument* is being made to ban immigrants from opening businesses, out of sheer xenophoby. I reiterate: this is not a theorical, this is actually happening.

If you do not see now why I hope McD wins the case, even though I hate both their architecture and the things they call food, then there is nothing more I can say. Downvote away.

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Filippo

*GOOD*

"Local products only" regulations are being set up by mayors from xenophobic parties in other cities as a not-so-subtle means of hindering immigrant-run ethnic food outlets.

I feel this practice is against art. 41 of the Constitution, freedom of enterprise, and I'm glad that an entity with money and power is going to fight it. For once, McD might be doing something good, even if unintentionally.

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'Pavement power' - The bad idea that never seems to die

Filippo

We'll be able to ask for the exact figures, at which point the marketing guys will tell us the yearly energy total and word the answer in such a way that it sounds like it's daily. Or they'll say that the pads were wrongly installed. Or they'll give the total energy produced since installation in watts, so that it sounds like a big number, and fail to mention it as a percentage of total streetlight consumption. Or they'll give the numbers from the single busiest square meter and try to pass it as the average. Or a combination of the above. If you criticize them, they can lay down some astroturf claiming you're working for the great petrol conspiracy.

You and me won't be fooled, but the average guy who has trouble doing two-digits products and thinks vaccines cause autism will, easily - and then they just need to find one who's administrating a large city.

If all else fails, they'll obliquely admit it doesn't work, but then they'll say they have "Version 2.0" in the works, and that it will be 120% more efficient (and fail to mention that efficiency isn't the issue when the energy just isn't there).

Cold hard facts are not enough to defeat good marketing.

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Top of the bots: This AI isn't a cold, cruel killing machine – it's a pop music hit machine

Filippo

I think this has more to do with the decline of music than with the advancement of AI.

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A cardboard desk? I won’t stand for it (actually I will)

Filippo

Cardboard furniture?

I admit this is the first time I hear about cardboard furniture. Even after reading the article, I can't fathom why anyone would come up with the notion, or why anyone would buy it, especially at that price.

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Filippo

Re: ?!?!?!?!?!

Blame Brexit!

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Kotkin: Why Trump won

Filippo

Re: It's not "why", it's "how"

That won't happen. Having the electors subvert the vote, while technically legal, would open a can of worms so big and stinky that Trump would look like sunshine and rainbow by comparison. I'm confident that everyone in charge understands that.

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Robot solves Rubik's Cubes in 637 milliseconds

Filippo

I'm more impressed with the construction quality of the cube, if it can be moved that quickly without falling apart.

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Was IoT DDoS attack just a dry run for election day hijinks?

Filippo

Re: What would it really accomplish?

"I suppose having the internet "go down" during election day / election night could feed into the meme some are trying to spread about the election being rigged if they don't get the result they like..."

Do not underestimate this.

There won't be a civil war because of this election, not even if there's a cyber attack providing fuel for the FUD. However, there is currently a trend of distrust in democracy that, in the long run, can become a major problem, and a DDoS on election day would definitely not help.

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We're going to have to start making changes or the adults will do it for us

Filippo

I don't really give a crap about tabs vs spaces; whatever the IDE is set up as will be fine. But languages with significant whitespace need to die in a fire.

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El Paso city bungs $3.2m to email crooks pretending to be bosses

Filippo

One of my clients recently outsourced their accounting to India. So at one point I received an email in somewhat uncertain English asking me for my bank details because they needed to make a payment. Obviously, I trashed it without reading it. I realized what happened only months later when I noticed I wasn't getting paid any more.

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AI boffins turn to StarCraft to train future neural networks

Filippo

Re: Has been done

Technically, every videogame is turn based. In some games, though, the duration of the turn is one clock tick (or one screen refresh, or whatever).

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Web devs want to make the Internet of S**t worse. Much worse

Filippo

Re: Wrong

There is a much higher barrier to installing an application compared to visiting a web page. Most people still wrongly assume that websites are always innocuous. If a moderately competent user installs an application, it will be from a reasonably trusted source - the manufacturer's website, or the CD that comes with the gizmo. Yes, it is possible to get users to install malware; doing so is not nearly as easy as getting them to visit a malicious website.

Also, the fact that data from the device has to go through the Internet rather than just to the app opens up all sorts of additional attacks; MITM, etc. Finally, the fact that even when everything is working as intended, the data has to go to the manufacturer's cloud has awful implications. I really don't see why Google needs to know how I set my thermostat, and I really don't want it to stop working because my Internet connectoin is down.

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I've arrived on Mars. Argggh, my back!

Filippo

Re: A never-ending study on how to mess up humans...

We definitely should work seriously on physics, but there's the distinct chance that an energy supply capable of getting enough stuff up there is simply impossible. We should also work on how to get and use resources that are already out of the gravity well.

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Surveillance by consent: Commissioner launches CCTV strategy for England and Wales

Filippo

Re: Can I have that in plain English

It doesn't.

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What will happen when I'm too old to push? (buttons, that is)

Filippo

Re: TV status light

My TV has a red status light because it literally takes longer to boot than my laptop, so I need to have something to tell me I've actually turned it on. And since we're talking about being old - CRT TVs could have video & audio running from cold in a fraction of a second.

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Kids today are so stupid they fall for security scams more often than greybeards

Filippo

Call for the techpriest

Oh, no, I've offended the machine-spirit!

You know the quote about sufficiently advanced technology? Well, we're nearly there.

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It's finally happened: Hackers are coming for home routers en masse

Filippo

Who's responsible?

Residential users can't be expected to keep clean. It just won't happen.

Malicious traffic on a residential connection needs to be detected and filtered away by the ISP. The user needs to be warned and, if all else fails, disconnected.

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US reactor breaks fusion record – then runs out of cash and shuts down

Filippo

Re: ITER..

Interesting. Nevertheless, the key thing to understand about basic research is that you do not know what comes out of it. Anything that's not patently stupid, and ITER, is worth pursuing; it might be pointless, but it might also be the only way to do something amazing, and you can't know until you try. Even the stuff that's patently stupid is at least worth the effort of debunking. Always remember that there was a time *electricity* was considered a useless novelty.

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Google Pixel: Devices are a dangerous distraction from the new AI interface

Filippo

Do we, really? I mean, people have been making phones that are not Apple and not Google and actually have respectable privacy policies - they don't sell. Because the vast majority of people really don't give half a crap about their privacy. If a new manufacturer, or a dozen, came out with nice phones that respect privacy, their phones would only get bought by a handful of people like you and me, and fail quickly.

If we want better privacy, we should not demand phones with better privacy. We should be educating people, all the people, on why privacy matters. If we can do that, the phones with better privacy will appear very soon.

Of course, that's *hard* to do - but it's also the only way. A handful of people like you and me are just not enough to support an industry that respects privacy, and if such an industry appeared out of nowhere in the current culture, it'd just collapse in short order.

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Without new anti-robot laws, humanity is doomed, MPs told

Filippo

Re: "some obscure board game"

Maybe he meant chess.

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PC sales sinking almost as fast as Donald Trump's poll numbers

Filippo

I don't think the whole Win10 thing is a major factor here. Most people outside IT don't really care what Windows it runs, beyond grumbling a bit when stuff changes.

I think the main reason for the slump is that, back when PC performance was doubling every 18 months, developers made use of the extra oomph either by adding more features or being more lazy, until you would be basically forced to upgrade, because your old machine would collapse under the weight of the new version of something.

Now that PC performance is pretty much stalled, any application that's targeting recent specs will usually also work respectably on fairly old iron. So what's the point of upgrading?

We may see a boost to sales once they get SSD costs down to the point where developers feel they can get away with building stuff that works poorly on HDDs. Then everyone will be forced to get an SSD, and many of those will just buy a new PC.

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Industrial control kit hackable, warn researchers

Filippo

I use similar stuff, from MOXA and from other manufacturers. The quality of their software is roughly the same; MOXA is not particularly bad. Put plainly, this type of device should under NO circumstances be accessible from outside the local network.

IoT is a mess in its own right, but at least it's something that's supposed to be on the Internet. These things are *NOT* IoT. They are replacements for objects that used to sit on a PCI bus, and have the same concern about security as something that sits on a PCI bus.

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Fingerprint tech makes ATMs super secure, say banks. Crims: Bring it on, suckers

Filippo

Oh, yes, let's replace my shared secret with another shared secret, except that I actually leave copies of this one everywhere I go, and cannot change it ever.

How is it possible that people who are supposed to work in security are thinking this is a good idea?

How the fuck is it possible for a person to say "if this is compromised even once, you're screwed forever... so we must try really hard not to have it compromised", and still get called a "security expert"?

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Mark Zuckerberg and the $3bn cash fling: He's not your father's tech kingpin

Filippo

Unless new tools appear that drastically cut the cost of developing new drugs. There are things like nanotech and computational biology that are barely more than lab toys right now, but might end up in fully automated disease cure discovery in 50, 70 years from now. Granted, they might end up like cold fusion too, but the nature of research is that you don't know until you spend a crapload of money.

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Filippo

Re: Check the figures?

I noticed that too. The figures make this extremely confusing.

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Hubble spies on Europa shooting alien juice from its southern pole

Filippo

"But if life is found, it would put Europa off limits for refueling."

Yeah, right. That worked SO well for the Middle East. Face it, ethical concerns have never been a real obstacle to anything.

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UK copyright troll weeps, starts 20-week stretch in the cooler for beating up Uber driver

Filippo

DUI is less reprehensible than assault, and shoplifting is less reprehensible than DUI, and yet they both result in harsher sentences. I don't remember the name of the rhethorical figure here, but it works.

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Autonomous vehicles inquiry set up in the UK

Filippo

We've had driveless vehicles in space for quite a while.

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Apple seeks patent for paper bag - you read that right, a paper bag

Filippo

Does "post-consumer" mean it's made of people?

Also, looking forward to when one breaks, spilling all of its content on the floor, and it turns out it's because the customer was holding it wrong.

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Pluto's emitting X-rays, and NASA doesn't quite know how

Filippo

Mi-go nuclear reactor?

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Ransomware scum infect Comic Relief server: Internal systems taken down

Filippo

@Jemma

Do you really think that by not voting you are absolved of all responsibilities? Inaction is also a choice with consequences. There is no "safe" option in an election, ethically speaking; whatever you do, you get part of the burden.

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