* Posts by John Hawkins

149 posts • joined 7 Feb 2008

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Blade Runner 2049: Back to the Future – the movies that showed us what's to come

John Hawkins
Mushroom

Mad Max

The vehicles! The clothes!

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Germany puts halt on European unitary patent

John Hawkins

No-one expects the...

Spanish Inquisition Bundesverfassungsgericht

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BT considers scrapping 'gold-plated' pensions in bid to plug £14bn deficit

John Hawkins

Re: Never bothered with a pension...

Maybe we can sell our children for scientific experimentation and live on that in our old age? Though I've only got two, not the required sixty-three, and they'll soon be bigger than me anyway, so it might not be easy.

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Britain's on the brink of a small-scale nuclear reactor revolution

John Hawkins

Somewhere along the line I read that the reason why Uranium 235 fission reactors got the nod in the 1950s was because the military of the time considered plutonium (handy if you've got bombs to build) production high priority. Which seems reasonable enough given the recent history of the time.

So, yes, in context plutonium was very useful indeed.

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Roses are red, violets are blue, fake-news-detecting AI is fake news, too

John Hawkins
Facepalm

FFS - fake news is nothing new

To quote H G Wells' newspaper editor in 'The Sea Lady' from 1902:

"Stuff that the public won't believe aren't facts. Being true only makes 'em worse. They buy our paper to swallow it and it's got to go down easy."

You couldn't click on it back then, but bait it was.

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El Reg drills into chatbot hype: The AIs that want to be your web butlers

John Hawkins

Two Ronnies

I'd like to see a chatbot that could follow an episode of the Two Ronnies without getting confused. A 'Turing Test' for chatbots maybe?

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Red squirrels! Adorable, right? Wrong – they're riddled with leprosy

John Hawkins

I've got an old recipe for red squirrel that suggests first skinning, gutting (guess they could get a bit gamey otherwise, but YMMV), then rubbing them in salt and pepper, basting with olive oil and grilling.

Sounds intriguing, though I would avoid the ones with warts just to be on the safe side. Unfortunately they (squirrels, not warts) are protected where I live :(

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Whoosh! China shows off J-20 'stealth' fighters and jet drones

John Hawkins

Outer Manchuria?

Gearing up to take back Outer Manchuria perhaps? The Chinese certainly have a better claim to that than for example Argentina has to the Falklands, as well as a need for more space.

I think Russia has a great deal more to fear from China than the West. Pity Lewis Page isn't still with El Reg; would have been interesting to hear his views on the subject.

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Job ad asks for 'detrimental' sysadmin

John Hawkins

I believe 'Freudian slip' is the correct term (though what Freud was doing while wearing a slip I don't really want to know).

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EU ends anonymity and rules open Wi-Fi hotspots need passwords

John Hawkins

Re: The EU

Pretty sure it won't be German; having worked there for a couple of years I know just how paranoid they are about such things. With their history (GESTAPO, STASI) I don't blame them.

My pick would be the voice of Mr MacKay in Porridge for those words.

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Delete Google Maps? Go ahead, says Google, we'll still track you

John Hawkins
Coat

Re: Does the app...

Isn't that hole normally above the fan? Or is that just in bars?

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Crashed and alone in a remote location: When paid help is no help

John Hawkins

Wilds of Yorkshire

"The Third World" sketch in the Python film "Meaning of Life" springs to mind here for some reason...

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

John Hawkins

Re: Guess you need to be there yourself to understand

Reading the replies I might add that the prospect of imminent death to yourself or someone in your family focuses you. Many things that people get excited about become nothing more than white noise.

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John Hawkins

Guess you need to be there yourself to understand

I worried a lot about my brother until he got a new pacemaker installed, so I get this.

I have the same heart defect myself (though not as serious as my brother; his heart stops, mine just slows until I faint) and I now use a Fitbit HR so that I can log my pulse. I'd have no problem sharing that information with concerned family members. Or at to least alert them when I'm having problems again.

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Going on a date, and it's just the two of you? How ... quaint. OkCupid's setting up threesomes

John Hawkins

Re: Lifelong loving

Perhaps sir would find this short video amusing?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wx1ovD-o5l4

(There really ought be a sheep icon available - one feels let down by The Register)

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Spanish village celebrates Playmobil nativity

John Hawkins

Fred Dagg

Brings to mind the Fred Dagg Christmas carol of my distant youth...

We three kings of Orient are

One on a tractor, two in a car

One on a scooter

Tooting his hooter

Following yonder star

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What the world needs now is Pi, sweet $5 Raspberry Pi Zero

John Hawkins

Re: Pi vs Pie

"*headless hobbyist? His past-times included lion taming."

His name is Roland and he has a Thompson gun...

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We can't all live by taking in each others' washing

John Hawkins
Boffin

The Tim Worstall Blog

Actually none of need to go without our Worstall fix - he's got a blog site.

You'll have to find it the way I did though.

[edit] Hah - beaten to it!

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So just what is the third Great Invention of all time?

John Hawkins

Re: Surely money itself is the great invention?

But isn't money just another form of information? And for that matter, aren't all things connected with money (bookkeeping, limited liability companies and so on) just a subset of information flow? Money being information on the value on what I (or my ancestors etc) have contributed to the system and, if rules are followed, what I can expect to receive in exchange for that money.

In a sense, the Enlightenment is also part of that information flow - things happen because there are various rules that are followed and what happened yesterday will happen today and tomorrow. Gravity being a good example - we know it happens and can measure it within the limits of quantum mechanics, but we know less about the how of gravity than we know about the how of evolution.

Getting back to money, instead of me claiming the grain you grew because one of my foremothers was shagged by a local god, you can tell me to eff off because you grew it on your own land and you then exchange the grain for filthy lucre.

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Self-driving vehicles might be autonomous but insurance pay-outs probably won't be

John Hawkins

Re: Urban buses replaced first?

Drivers, or lack of requirement for drivers, is the big improvement I see for public transport for lots of reasons. More engineers probably, but not as many.

Sabotage stops buses today; don't think that would make a difference. Punctures and other breakdowns are dealt with by a couple of mechanics in a van already; would be the same with an urban autonomous bus.

Biggest risk I see is buses getting hacked, but the way things are going all new vehicles - drivered or not - are likely to be at risk by then anyway.

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John Hawkins

Urban buses replaced first?

I can see urban buses getting replaced by autonomous vehicles first - fairly predictable conditions and in many cases right-of-way lanes. Autonomous minibuses every 5 minutes instead of articulated monsters every half-hour.

Pedestrians could be dealt with using small water cannons - would provide entertainment for the bus passengers also.

Tractors might be first in rural areas - $action = "plough"; $depth = "b"; $field = "nw_wood"; $gps = true; $start_date = "2020-09-10"; run(); - would save cropping farmers a lot of time.

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Dry those eyes, ad blockers are unlikely to kill the internet

John Hawkins

If adverts weren't so irritating I'd not block them

While I realise that adverts are often designed to attract attention, I find any movement on a page unsettling and sometimes a little nauseating. A bit like with the infamous <blink> tag of yore.

So I block ads even if, as Tim notes, some are probably interesting to me as a potential customer.

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Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Itty-bitty pyttipanna

John Hawkins

Re: I have a whole shelf in my fridge dedicated to surströmming tins"

Haha. No, I open the tins in the traditional manner - submerged in a bucket of water.

Though I don't know why a people (the English) who regard pheasants as being fit to eat only after they fall off their feet that they have been hung up by should feel threatened by surströmming. I've gutted quite a few pheasants that have just been hung a few days and they stink enough for me.

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John Hawkins

Fermented herring

Pyttipanna is a bit on the stodgy side for me, but I can see that Poms might like it for that reason.

Personally I'd prefer the fermented herring after a night out; it's fairly salty and just the thing for post-pub electrolyte replacement. Thin flatbread, onions, mature cheese and boiled spuds - preferably the local almond spuds 'mandelpotatis' - completes the culinary requirements specification.

(Disclosure: I have a whole shelf in my fridge dedicated to surströmming tins; like good wine it gets better as it ages.)

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OH GROSS! The real problem with GDP

John Hawkins

Re: So is it actually a good idea to measure it at all?

"Good enough" is how I'd put it. Does the trick and without taking so long that it has become irrelevant by the time the value is available.

Like the market economy itself (or democracy for that matter), a compromise. Neither of which are good enough if you want to get anally retentive about it, but changing either system to make it more controllable/predictable ends in tears sooner or later.

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DevOps tools: The beginner's guide to Chef

John Hawkins
Thumb Up

Fun to muck around with on Linux

I've been messing with Chef on both Linux (RHEL) and Windows boxes since April this year at work. It's been quite a lot of fun to get my fingers into some coding again and once I got the certificates set up properly it has been friendly to work with. I set up my own Chef lab at home (pure Ubuntu) with a couple of Raspberry Pi units among the clients just to see if it could be done.

I spent a couple of years programming C before I got into Unix sysadmin in the mid 90s and later specialised in scripting for a while, so it didn't take long to get up to speed with Chef. Rock solid on Linux and a doddle to use.

I'd hesitate to use it on Windows though; the Chef agent for that platform has a few performance issues because of the way it has been ported and I had to add a registry hack just to get the agent to restart properly as a service after a reboot.

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Beard transplants up 600% for men 'lacking length elsewhere'

John Hawkins
Trollface

Blokes who whinge about beards can't grow one

It's great that beards are no longer just for fundamentalists (lefties and god botherers). I hated having to shave a couple of times a day to feel clean; Don Johnson style stubble made me look lazy and gave women a rash.

Not that I've gone for the full hipster/Ned Kelley though - that looks sweaty.

Beard transplants sound weird, but I guess as shaving has probably never been much of an issue for those blokes they wouldn't see that downside of having whiskers.

Finally, to quote the late great Rik Mayall (aka Flashheart) "Thanks, Bridesmaid. Like the beard. Gives me something to hang on to."

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VW’s case of NOxious emissions: a tale of SMOKE and MIRRORS?

John Hawkins

Re: Only VW?

A colleague who used to work in the car parts business suggested to me that a German engineering and electronics outfit who make components for the industry were highly likely to be responsible for much of the development of the solution. In which case pretty much all car manufacturers in the western world may be involved. Given that the industry as a whole has struggled over the past few years, it is unlikely anyone anywhere who sells diesel engined cars has ignored a chance to be a little more competitive.

Will be interesting to follow further developments.

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Mobile phones are the greatest poverty-reducing tech EVER

John Hawkins

Re: BillG vs Zuckerberg

In my current part of the world (Sweden), the malaria mossies disappeared when the wetlands were drained in order to farm them. The last local case was in 1933.

Interesting given that wetlands are now being restored in various places.

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John Hawkins
Thumb Up

A *lot* better than most foreign aid...

This is enabling a market economy as it ought to be done; from below rather than above. I imagine there are a few problems, but it is a heck of a lot better than the von oben solutions.

It will be fun to see what happens when small-scale solar power becomes a realistic solution in that part of the world. No infrastructure needed and plenty of sunshine.

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Robots, schmobots. The Rise of the Machines won't leave humanity on the dole

John Hawkins

Re: Wants and desires

Think I'd prefer a robot that tidies up around the house, cleans my floors, does my washing, empties the dishwasher, cleans the bog and shower etc. I'd rather spend my weekends renovating or writing code.

Admittedly a robot maid can't do everything a human maid can, but given the abuse some of women in my family appear to have had to put up while working as maids back in the day, the fewer human maids about the better.

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Boffins unveil open source GPU

John Hawkins
Coat

Kitten Kong?

I'm showing my age...

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Get thee behind me, Satanic mills! Robert Owen's Scottish legacy

John Hawkins

Re: Social agenda

It makes good business sense to look after the livestock, regardless of any social values added by the policy.

Said livestock at that time would have had a life that was 'nasty, brutish and short' by our standards, so simply making sure that it was well fed, free from common diseases and rested would have made a significant difference to productivity.

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'Sunspots drive climate change' theory is result of ancient error

John Hawkins

Re: Here we go again

Wackos on both sides of the fence if you look.

Me - I'm sitting comfortably on the fence and enjoying the screaming...

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HP slaps dress code on R&D geeks: Bin that T-shirt, put on this tie

John Hawkins

Re: Stand out from the crowd

Or why not as The Great Engineer himself, Isambard Brunel?

Though the full frock coat + waistcoat might be a bit on the warm side for today's office and the ceiling is probably a bit low for the top hat.

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Antitrust this! EU Commish goes after HOLLYWOOD’s big guns

John Hawkins
Thumb Up

If this means I can get test cricket on tele in Sweden...

..without having to resort to hacks or dodgy streaming, then I'm all for it.

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Will rising CO2 damage the world's oceans? Not so much

John Hawkins
Boffin

Thought it was old news...

I remember a paper in Nature about 15-20 years ago where various marine organisms in a lab had been exposed to sea water in equilibrium with current and a number of raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, with the result that some organisms were worse off, some showed little or no effect and some did better at the higher levels of carbon dioxide. Can't remember the reference, but the result stuck with me as I found it interesting.

Not sure if it is relevant for the modern rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide, but it strikes me as worth considering that during the Cretaceous and early Cenozoic periods, when carbon dioxide levels were several times that of today (e.g. http://www.whoi.edu/science/GG/people/kbice/Bice_Norris_2002.pdf), quite a lot of chalk was laid down over Europe. Raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels can therefore hardly result in the extinction of all marine organisms with carbonate based shells, as some people would have us believe.

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Britain beats back Argies over Falklands online land grab

John Hawkins
Trollface

Outer Manchuria before the Falklands

I reckon someone with too much time on their hands should start up a campaign to have Outer Manchuria returned to China. After all, the Chinese have more rights to Outer Manchuria than the Argies have to the Falklands.

Would wind up both the Argies and the Ruskies. Maybe the Ruskies wouldn't be so keen on supporting the Argies in the future either.

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User flexibility without the risk

John Hawkins

History

I'm old enough to remember that PCs got into the office this way...local managers bought them as they were a great way to get around the central IT department's restrictions. IT controlled accounts and software on the VAX and on the IBM big iron, but PCs were standalone.

Sooner or later the PCs became business critical, so IT were stuck with them whether they liked it or not.

Was how I got into IT in the first place - the IT department refused to touch our PCs, so I looked after them. More fun than what I was supposed to be doing and made it easier for me to get a new job once our office got consolidated out of existence.

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Poverty? Pah. That doesn't REALLY exist any more

John Hawkins

Time for an RFC?

After reading through article and comments, it seems to me that there's a lot of quibbling about the definition of poverty. Time for an RFC defining exactly what poverty is perhaps - I worked with requirements coordination for a few years so I'm inclined to think it important to be sure everybody is clear about what is being discussed before entering into said discussion.

I'm with Tim on this one - too much inequality might be a Bad Thing for lots of good reasons (one being that it is bad news for a market economy), but it is not the same thing as poverty.

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Read The Gods of War for every tired cliche you never wanted to see in a sci fi book

John Hawkins

Re: Makes me appreciate Edmond Hamilton all the more...

Agree - currently reading 'The Stars, My Brothers' again. Though having downloaded and read through a few collections of sci-fi from the early and mid 20th century, I think there was a great deal of sifting that needed doing back then also.

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BAT-GOBBLING urban SPIDER QUEENS swell to ENORMOUS SIZE

John Hawkins

Re: Massed Nephila plumipes webs

I remember the webs being built between trees and reaching from ground level up to above head height when worked I on farms in NSW back in the 1980s. The paragliders would therefore have to be flying low, but I expect the occasional pommie tourist hanging in a web probably wouldn't have bothered the locals too much.

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Kiwi Rocket Lab to build SUPER-CHEAP sat launchers (anyone know 30 rocket scientists?)

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Big tech firms holding wages down? Marx was right all along, I tell ya!

John Hawkins

Shot feet

As another occasionally frothy mouthed free-market supporter, there's another issue with not paying the engineers (or 'workers') what they should have been paid. That money would have been used to buy shiny electronic things with (they are engineers after all) instead of ending up in Swiss bank accounts or being spent on over-priced art, wine or whatever.

People buying things keep the capitalist ball rolling; might upset a few environmentalists, but that's not what this discussion is about.

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Warming: 6°C unlikely, 2°C nearly certain

John Hawkins
Thumb Up

“Waiting for certainty will fail as a strategy,"

Great quote - sums up a lot of things, not only climate change. Might use it on a slide the next time I have to present a project plan.

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Congress plans to make computer crime law much, much worse

John Hawkins
Black Helicopters

Watch up for the Guv'mint

Bleeding 'eck - if I was living there I too would be worried about the federals and black helicopters. Probably would have a cellar full of tinned food and assault rifles as well.

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Researcher sets up illegal 420,000 node botnet for IPv4 internet map

John Hawkins
Thumb Up

Give the researcher a medal!

It's the no-hopers who've kept/set the passwords that should be prosecuted. Or at least hung from the ceiling using a thin Ethernet cable around sensitive parts until they promise to never ever ever use such a password again.

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Czechs check cheques, reject £680m 4G auction

John Hawkins
Headmaster

Swedish 3G contest

Locally (Sweden) we had a contest to see which 3G operators would give the best service before licences were granted. I remember a great deal of whining from one operator in particular that expected to be guaranteed a slot but didn't get it.

Coverage is still not what was promised by the winners, but I don't think anybody in the business is surprised about that. International operators tend to spread their costs over different countries anyway, so that is probably not the advantage for the locals as is sometimes made out either.

Though I do think that a contest is probably a better solution than an all-in auction; in either case reality is messier than the shiny Power Point slides shown in the various workshops and conferences leading up to any decision.

Finally, for those who haven't enough to do, there's a thesis available comparing the UK auction and the Swedish contest: http://www.managementheaven.com/comparison-swedish-3g-beauty-contest-uk-3g-auction/

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Era of the Pharaohs: Climate was hotter than now, without CO2

John Hawkins

Climate is changing...but it always has.

Which is pretty much what the paper seems to say. A particularly interesting sentence I found in the paper was the observation that "In contrast, the decadal mean global temperature of the early 20th century (1900 – 1909) was cooler than >95% of the Holocene distribution under both the Standard 5×5 and high-frequency corrected scenarios."

So we've gone to effing cold to relatively balmy in just a 100 years. Bring it on I say; 9 degrees Celsius below freezing this morning after some mild, sunny weather last week. Make the most of it before the next Ice Age rolls in.

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Report: Danish government hits Microsoft with $1bn tax bill

John Hawkins
Headmaster

Vikings?

Ha! Vikings in Scandinavia? The Vikings all beggared off southwards a thousand years ago - those left in Scandinavia are descended from the peasants, thralls and others who couldn't make the move. Even the British Isles had better weather back then, before the climate packed up.

Interesting story though; I can actually see the Danish coast from my office window and the story has been floating around the local papers for a few days now.

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