* Posts by Paul Hovnanian

1128 posts • joined 16 Mar 2008


Pandas so useless they just look at delicious kid who fell into enclosure

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

Re: The monsters are gone now, come down!

"When the better living conditions are full of monsters or endemic disease. Somewhere in the past, something nasty arrived to decimate panda populations."

It's possible that the 'monsters' are us. Homo sapiens. A study (summarized in a recent issue of The Economist) hypothesizes that it was the spread of humans that drove pandas into marginal ecosystems. Where the only thing left to eat was bamboo.

Ancient people and their possible taste for panda meat no longer being an issue, it now appears that pandas might be able to co-exist with us, given their mellow dispositions (as demonstrated by this incident). Many animals that we neither compete with nor consume can adapt to human presence if they become acclimated to us.

Accused hacker Lauri Love tries to retrieve Fujitsu lappie and other gear from Britain's FBI in court

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

He's lucky ...

... he wasn't apprehended in the USA. All that kit would have been auctioned off years ago. To buy the chief of police a comfy office chair or something along those lines.

Reliable system was so reliable, no one noticed its licence had expired... until it was too late

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Re: Remember Y2K?

Yes, I remember it. Leave it to the computing industry to shorten "Year 2000" to Y2K when that was the root of the problem in the first place.

El Reg talks to PornHub sister biz AgeID – and an indie pornographer – about age verification

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Because ....

... porn gives young people an unreasonable and unhealthy impression of how fast a plumber will come to your house.

Amid polar vortex... Honeywell gets frosty reception after remote smart thermostat tech freezes up for a week

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I guess ...

... I shouldn't have tossed my old mercury bulb thermostat in the dustbin.

Apple: You can't sue us for slowing down your iPhones because you, er, invited us into, uh, your home... we can explain

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

Re: Interesting argument

"So how do they deal with the battery performance deteriorating?"

They let customers replace the old battery with a new one.

[Joke icon because ....]

Worried about Brexit food shortages? North Korean haute couture has just the thing

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Re: How I explain Brexit to children

"A Modest Proposal"

NASA's Opportunity rover celebrates 15 years on Mars – by staying as dead as a doornail

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Re: A great job of engineering, but next time....

"get Dyson to sponsor"

I don't think any of the manufacturers in this particular line of business have any interest in furthering space exploration. After all, once we figure out how to package and ship vacuum down economically, they'll all be out of business.

The Apple Mac is 35 years old. Behold the beige box of the future

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Re: Typical el Reg

The TCO analysis needs to consider support as well. When I worked for Boeing, engineers started out with Macs (in the early '90s). Cute little machines and connected to a network, sufficient for shuffling around e-mail, editing documents and doing some small spreadsheets. Serious apps ran on X terminals from *NIX systems in the server room. We had an in -ouse Mac maintenance guy doing support for all the sites in south Seattle and Renton. When management finally dictated a move to PCs, the support group was staffed up to a dozen or so people just to take care of our building. And they were busy.

When the PC install guy showed up at my desk with a Dell, all I got was a command prompt. He told me that the software install group would be around 'shortly'. After a few months of this box taking up desk space and no Windows 1.0 yet, I found this thing called Linux. Asked the boss if it was OK to install and he said, "Sure." I never looked back and never had a Windows machine on my desk for the rest of my career there. I did my own support but probably spent less time on my own desktop than the Windows support people spent on the desktops around me.

So this is how that terrifying killer AI will end us... by pushing us down hospital wait lists?

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

For profit, private medical care

What's a waiting list?

Hardworking Americans keep busy during the government shutdown driving up smut traffic

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My Favorite

on Pornhub (Video is SFW but the side bar adds ..... it IS Pornhub after all)

Dear humans, We thought it was time we looked through YOUR source code. We found a mystery ancestor. Signed, the computers

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Re: Many mysteries

'Both "species" and "race" look increasingly dubious as genetic understanding improves'

And to suit the particular agenda at hand. 'Species' in the animal kingdom has been pressed into service to distinguish between different populations of animals living in various habitats. Not that they might actually differ much genetically. But if a unique name can be found for a small population of mole rats living in one valley, endangered species and environmental regulations can be called into play. Even though that mole rat might have reached the level of an infestation in the next county.

If I could turn back time, I'd tell you to keep that old Radarange at home

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Radar Ranges

Some years ago, I worked at a secure (DoD contractor) site. WiFi and laptops were a new thing and some engineers thought it would be convenient to plug an access point into their network drop. To be able to walk around the office with their laptops. An absolute no-no as far as IT security was concerned. So they (security) contacted our electronics lab and had them sweep the building. The lab built up a contraption made up of microwave horns, waveguides, local oscillators and mixers. And a top of the line HP spectrum analyzer. All on a cart with a portable power supply. Probably a few hundred thousand dollars in precision equipment.

I watched on the day they did their sweep. No offending WiFi access points were found. But they did locate every microwave oven on the premises.

Attention all British .eu owners: Buy dotcom domains and prepare to sue, says UK govt

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge


Didn't the EU just go through a whole brouhaha over Whois data and the need to protect the identity of domain owners?

You were told to clean up our systems, not delete 8,000 crucial files

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Re: Users do what works for them

Some years ago, I worked at an outfit supporting a suite of applications hosted on some HP-UX servers. One day, we started to get calls from the factory that the critical apps were down and they had stopped building airplanes. Upon logging into the system, I found that the /tmp subdirectory had been deleted. Calling the sysadmin, I found that the IT department had recently hired a new manager. One not familiar with the systems we used. He took it upon himself to start poking around and asking questions. One being, "What's this /tmp subdirectory for?" When informed* that it was used for storing "junk" he ordered that said subdirectory be deleted immediately. "We don't store junk on our production servers!" Being a real type A manager (I can guess what the A really stood for) nobody dared disobey his orders.

I managed to resurrect the stuff I was responsible for by setting my TMPDIR environment variable to another path. But it did take several days of intermittent system operation before admins could go over this guy's head and straighten the whole /tmp fiasco out.

*Whoever supplied this incorrect description is really the one who deserves the flogging. One has to be very careful when briefing a PHB or the error may propagate out of your control.

Until now, if Canadian Uber drivers wanted to battle the tech giant, they had to do it in the Netherlands – for real

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

Re: Judgement of Justice Feldman.

"The "gig economy" traps the poor in poverty."

So shut down the gig economy. Close Uber. Now where are the poor?

I happen to like the gig economy as a self-employed engineer. I don't want inequities in the Uber model paraded out as an excuse to force myself (and man other people) into involuntary employee/employer relationships. Fix Uber and the problems with its arbitration policies.

Oregon can't stop people from calling themselves engineers, judge rules in Traffic-Light-Math-Gate

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Lets see ...

... what the courts say when I call myself an attorney.

London Gatwick Airport reopens but drone chaos perps still not found

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Latest news

Two people arrested in connection with Gatwick droning incident.


A few reasons why cops haven't immediately shot down London Gatwick airport drone menace

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Re: terminal velocity

"which makes it even more deadly"

Not really. Bullets that tumble once they enter a target are more deadly due to the increased damage that they do. But bullets that tumble in the air have a much higher coefficient of drag (more so for boat-tail rifle bullets than musket balls) and therefore a lower terminal velocity.

Pork pulled: Plug jerked out of beacon of bacon delight

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It's been done: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FEBO

Windows 10 can carry on slurping even when you're sure you yelled STOP!

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Re: Why, oh why?

"PS. If MS are listening"

When are they not?

Thanks to UK peers, coming to a laptop near you in 2019: Age checks for online smut

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Reason for checks

"Ostensibly, the reason for introducing the checks is to stop kids accessing porn that many believe is damaging or creates unrealistic views of sex and relationships."

I thought it was to keep dirty old men like me from gazing at young nubiles and creating unrealistic views.

'Say hello to my little vacuum cleaner!' US drug squad puts spycams in cleaner's kit

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Simple countermeasure

You just stroll through the facility while making the deal. And see if a shop-vac is following you.

Funnily enough, China fuming, senator cheering after Huawei CFO cuffed by Canadian cops at Uncle Sam's request

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The upside to this

... may be that the validity of the Iran sanctions might get their day in court. Most of the rest of the world 's intelligence apparatus* is convinced that Iran is abiding by their commitments not to develop nuclear weapons and materials. Once this evidence is put on the table, China may have grounds for a WTO complaint. That these sanctions are an economic blockade to protect our oil-producing friends (Exxon, Saudi Arabia, Russia) from the consequences of Iranian supplies hitting the market.

*And expose how our intelligence is basically Saudi Arabia and Israel telling us what to think.

NASA has Mars InSight as latest lander due to arrive today

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I eagerly await ...

... new of the landing.

Laptop search unravels scheme to fake death for insurance cash

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Lesson learned

Next time Irina, actually plant that sucker in the ground.

I was in a gardening shop just the other day. One of their items was a selection of garden crop row marking stakes. Rather decorative, labeled as "Peas", "Beans", "Carrots", "Husbands", ....

A little phishing knowledge may be a dangerous thing

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Post-attack survey

"And among the subset of students who responded to the post-attack survey (482), 70 per cent had clicked on a phishing link."

So it's already a biased sample. What about the people who didn't respond because they thought the survey was a phishing attack?

As if connected toys weren't creepy enough, kids' data could be used against them in future

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Kid's data used against them?

Well, there goes your chance for an appointment to the Supreme Court.

30 spies dead after Iran cracked CIA comms network with, er, Google search – new claim

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It's a tradeoff

Between providing good encryption/anonymity for everyone (allowing our spies to blend into the crowd) and law enforcement's need to monitor sites and users for various violations.

We may have lost some valuable overseas operatives. But Mickey Mouse is still safe.

Nikola Tesla's greatest challenge: He could measure electricity but not stupidity

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Measure stupidity?

In megawhats?

Bomb squad descends on suspicious package to find something much more dangerous – a Journey cassette

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Upon closer inspection, the tape was judged to be harmless. As no one was able to locate a compatible player.

Watch closely as NASA deploys the world's biggest parachute at supersonic speeds

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Practice Jumps

Not always a good idea?

Sorry friends, I'm afraid I just can't quite afford the Bitcoin to stop that vid from leaking everywhere

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Blackmail Me?

I might just have to use the Sukarno defense.

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I don't get so many

I suppose it's due to my habit of using user@mouse-potato.com as my throwaway address.

UK.gov should spend more on AI, bleat VCs and consultants. Oh? Why's that then?

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I don't know ...

... who this Al guy is. But a lot of people are throwing money at him.

Cops called after pair enter Canadian home and give it a good clean

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I think I saw something about this a while ago.

That 'Surface will die in 2019' prediction is still a goer, says soothsayer

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

Re: So the logic is

"Where do you meet these people?"

You could fit all the Windows Phone owners in a phone booth. Which just happens to be where they make their calls from.

Yale Weds: Just some system maintenance, nothing to worry about. Yale Thurs: Nobody's smart alarm app works

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I think I saw ...

... that commercial.

AI trained to sniff out fake news online may itself be fake news: Bot has mixed results in classifying legit titles

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Need to test this ...

... by piping the output of 'spew' to its stdin.

Python lovers, here's a library that will help you master AI as a newbie

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Re: Yet another opportunity

So sad!

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

Re: Maths

"why their super-duper AI doesn’t want to give mortgages or jobs or whatever to black people"

Or runs over them.

That scary old system with 'do not touch' on it? Your boss very much wants you to touch it. Now what do you do?

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

"Growing more complex in design"?

That implies someone is fiddling with them. And contrary to the stated position of the IT group responsible for them, someone still has the documentation/knowledge to make these changes. It might not be in the official company library, but a dog-eared notebook stashed somewhere. Or it's just been passed around as oral tradition. When the analysts responsible for systems migration show up "nobody really knows" how the old beast works. But when new regulatory requirements or functions need to be added to the old code base, magically the support staff seem to know how to get it done.

How an over-zealous yank took down the trading floor of a US bank

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The guy who set up that rack

should be taken out and shot. Lesson #1: All cords to hinged or sliding equipment need to be secured. Most rack mount keyboard/display units have a hinged or flexible arm just for this.

I did work for an electric utility where rack mounted relays had to be slid out for calibration. Before s substation had been commissioned, the relay techs found that the leads to the racks had been made too short by the electricians. They proceeded to take side cutters and lop off every cable to every racked relay. Then called the electricians to come back and try it again. Correctly this time.

Deliveroo to bike food to hungry fanbois queuing to buy iPhones

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Homeless guy

Fell asleep in the doorway of an Apple store. Hipsters queued up behind him, figuring he was first in line for a new Apple product release.

'Men only' job ad posts land Facebook in boiling hot water with ACLU

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

As an old guy ...

"female and older men" excluded from these ads. I guess you young guys will all have to work together while I get a job alongside all the women.

Automated Weather Source didn't see this cloud coming: Amazon snatches up AWS.com

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

Now redirects to ...


Weather or not this was a hostile takeover, it appears that the whether service is still in business. And Amazon is making the transition go smoothly. I hope they were paid well for their domain.

A basement of broken kit, zero budget – now get the team running

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Re: Bad managers are like knotweed

"I'd be interested if anyone has a notion to explain this ...."

I'd suggest reading a couple of books on management written by one of your fellow Brits, C. Northcote Parkinson.

Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

Not me, but ...

... I used to work at an electrical utility. Our division, way out in the boondocks, included a substation manager who was a real pack-rat. Meanwhile, we had an old station which was built in the 1950s as a temporary installation. Transformers and breakers were sitting on wood cribbing, which, 30 years later, was rotting away. And transformers weighing several tons each were threatening to tip over.

It turns out that this guy had enough spares to build a new station. So he sent the crews out over the course of a few months to pour concrete slabs, move in the 'new' equipment and switch the service over. All pretty much out of the petty cash budget. He got called on the carpet for that little stunt by corporate. And they sent out some people to clean out his parts stash. It turns out that he deprived some VPs of the coke and hookers that go with new equipment purchases and construction contracts.

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"How does one automate a PHB anyway?"

Like this?

Russia: The hole in the ISS Soyuz lifeboat – was it the crew wot dunnit?

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Drilled by an astronaut?

While in space? I sort of doubt it. I'll bet sound carries pretty well throughout the ISS. And given the mission planning involved with practically everything, "Who's running a power drill now?" would warrant some investigation.


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