* Posts by Joe Werner

300 posts • joined 3 Apr 2008


Reckon you deserve a Wikipedia entry? Try getting this bot's notice

Joe Werner

And if you have a rather common name...

... it will be really messy. Hell, updating my publication counts for grant applications from the web of knowledge is a mess, and there you can filter by institution (which might or might not work). I do have to admit that google scholar is a bit more efficient, but it also archives each and every conference abstract and tries to treat it the same as the articles (and so does researchgate, if you do not carefully categorise stuff yourself).

(no, I do not think I warrant a W'pedia page, and I do not want one)

Hmm, there's something fishy about this graph charting AMD's push into Intel's server turf

Joe Werner

Re: Two sine waves 180 degrees out of phase

If it was a duopoly they would not have to cheat with the axes... As somebody above wrote: AMD is just the noise on Intel's sales.

In a case like this I believe Tufte and others would recommend using

- a single graph showing a stack (not the best, you absolutely need to include the zero)

- two graphs stacked (ditto)

- a single graph showing AMD as a percentage of Intel sales

In principle one line is (as per the duopoly comment) redundant anyway...

Joe Werner

(misleading stats)

I came here to say the exact same thing. Another example why two y-axes in a single graph are misleading at best...

Build your own NASA space rover: Here are the DIY JPL blueprints

Joe Werner

The table with the specs...

First: It is an incredibly cool project, I want an excuse to do this right now.

However: my eyes! (I mean the formatting of the units)

See Sec. 5.3 of https://www.bipm.org/utils/common/pdf/si_brochure_8_en.pdf

Ok, plus the whole weird units stuff, but sure, go ahead, it is a perfectly logical system:

12 inch = 1 foot

3 feet = 1 yard

22 yards = 1 chain

10 chains = 1 furlong

8 furlong = 1 mile

(not sure about the chain vs. yards, too lazy to look it up now)

Yes, I have some grasp of converting miles, yard, feet and inches to metric, and I'm good enough with fractions to quickly think about which hex bit is the next smaller / bigger one if the one I initially picked is wrong. But still...

Yes, mine is the one with the SI brochure in the pocket.

Now that's a dodgy Giza: Eggheads claim Great Pyramid can focus electromagnetic waves

Joe Werner

Re: IgNobel nomination, anybody?

nope, the IgNobel is for sound science that sounds weird / stupid at first. Basically it should make you go "What?" and then get you thinking about it. Like the post-mortem brain scans of salmon, which went to show you should f'ing correct for multiple testing

Sorry, I sometimes get these twitches...

Joe Werner

Re: And... (teabags)

Only use for teabags is as samples to analyse biodegradation in the ground... (seriously, this is what some biologists use as sample organic material)

Joe Werner

Re: That's what they want you to think...

>> My wife lets me watch it because it's the only time I get to shout at the TV without her telling me "IT'S ONLY A STORY"

> Has your wife met my wife? I think they'd get on very well together...

:D (as John Kovalic once so put it: dating geeks is an art. Obviously those who do will share some traits. Yes, that includes my wife. Or the spouses (both sexes) of many of my friends (when it was not two geeks that got hooked up).

Please forgive me, I can't stop robbing you: SamSam ransomware earns handlers $5.9m

Joe Werner

Gah! My eyes!

Seriously, splines in that graph? They really do convey knowledge about what happens between the data points - which is not available...

... the one with Tufte's book in it, please.

You want to know which is the best smartphone this season? Tbh, it's tricky to tell 'em apart

Joe Werner

Re: Oops!

@Dave126: thanks, I'll check it out - I do share the same problem as the OP. The current phone (LG... uhm... Leon?) is... woefully inadequate. Even opening the email program takes several minutes. And updates to the apps are impossible now the Google apps have taken over the internal storage. The stupid system cannot download the updates to the external SD card, it seems.

I want my Windows phone back (a small, cheap Lumia 520 - my wife still has hers, still works well). And that's from somebody who doesn't even own a Windows computer...

Joe Werner

There are crap and ancient Android phones with smaller than 5" screens


The S3 came out in 2012, and the Nokia 1 has a whopping 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage - not really that usable, with all of the apps being really hungry (and getting worse). Additionally the Google apps have to stay on the inbuilt storage and grow bigger and bigger every year - meaning all of the internal storage is filled and you can no longer update apps because of that.

Sysadmin trained his offshore replacements, sat back, watched ex-employer's world burn

Joe Werner

Re: "How to use a barometer to measure the height of a building."

... 7) use a 1 m long pendulum with the barometer as the mass. Measure the frequency on top of the building and at ground level. Yes, you have to be very precise in measuring the frequency...

Is it OK if we call $53bn-a-quarter Amazon the Bit Barns and Ignoble?

Joe Werner

Re: Amazon is in my good books

Well, used books are sold by retailers through Amazon. I had pretty good experiences with them as well, but also with used books stores that used to sell directly over the internet. What I really prefer is wander through the aisles between imposing shelves of such shops to browse - and then buy even more books. I need to build some new shelves...

Politicians fume after Amazon's face-recog AI fingers dozens of them as suspected crooks

Joe Werner

Re: Only 28?

Yes, I assume the other 500 were correct matches... ;p

Sen. Ron Wyden: Adobe Flash is doomed, why is Uncle Sam still using it?

Joe Werner


Are official homepages not supposed to be "accessible" to people with disabilities? As soon as they use flash it cannot bev that - unless you can force it to a "text only" version. In that case ditching flash would be really easy.

To be honest: all this animated shite makes me sick. A homepage should (in those cases) deliver information. That's all. Too many self-acclaimed "web designers" forget that. Usually I am against capital punishment, but here... dunno.

Intel Xeon workhorses boot evil maids out of the hotel: USB-based spying thwarted by fix

Joe Werner

Re: There's a simple fix for USB hacking.

Neat! Reminds me of the BOFH episode with the "luggable" that was filled with batteries and inverters to sabotage stuff at a tradeshow...

I would desolder the port from the main board, turn it around (people won't check) so you have less danger of connecting to the main board. Then connect AC to the pins as suggested above.

All that dust on Mars is coming from one weird giant alien structure

Joe Werner

Solar panels...

And here at the coast we have the problem of the "white, di-electric material" accumulating on them (saw a report about a bird research station on one of the islands - one of the regular tasks is to remove the guano from the solar panels...)

Sysadmin sank IBM mainframe by going one VM too deep

Joe Werner

Re: Just to mudddy the waters a trifle ...

The dozen-count actually comes from counting the segments (offsets? ;p ) of the digits with your thumb. Many societies had that. Look at minutes (time and angles) or degrees of a circle.

Either my name, my password or my soul is invalid – but which?

Joe Werner

Re: "Wrong" email addresses

And those idiot web interfaces (faeces?) that insist a domain name cannot contain a hyphen (well, a -).

Most of my addresses have that. My domain names have them, my last two or three workplaces have that...


Boss helped sysadmin take down horrible client with swift kick to the nether regions

Joe Werner

Good luck!

I took a new job recently - so I know the feeling. I hope you have some rounds of ---> before you leave. Great column you started, thanks for (all the fish ;p )

The story goes that a guy with a car gets towed into a mechanic's. The shop owner looks at the car, takes a hammer, hits it. The car springs to life again, and the mechanic demands 100 quid for the fix. "But you only hit it with a hammer!" goes the customer, "please write me a proper bill for what you did!". The bill read: "hit car with hammer: 5. Know where to hit: 95."

(I guess most of you know that one...)

British Airways' latest Total Inability To Support Upwardness of Planes* caused by Amadeus system outage

Joe Werner

Re: Amadeus

Well, they do acocunt for this if the plane is not fully booked. I have been on several flights where the first two rows were "business" (not actually, but... ah well), and then there were about 15 or so rows empty, and the rest of the passengers were in the rear half of the plane.

Joe Werner

Re: weight calculation

You do these calculations before you load the cargo into the plane. Having the plane measure it and then say "oops, that's outside the safe limits, you need to unpack and rearrange" is sort of not helpful...

Skype Classic headed for the chopping block on September 1

Joe Werner

"This is done to ensure that all customers have the best possible Skype experience"

I feel enough acid rise to spit lacework into a steel bar. Unless they want to say that a f'ing nightmare is "the best possible experience" - note the emphasis.

It walks, it talks, it falls over a bit. Windows 10 is three years old

Joe Werner


"It's something that users do" (BOFH.... ca. 2001?)

-----------------> (obviously we don't have wine here)

Microsoft bids adieu to inky fingers with whiteboard app

Joe Werner


Flying your colleague in, chatting at a real blackboard and then having some hopped fermented grain beverages.

That's how you do it. Don't settle for less!

(Of course you need to photograph the blackboard, but that's manageable)

Joe Werner

Re: ‘ideation’ ?

BS to English: brainstorming

Look at one of the last BOFH....

One two three... Go: Long Pig Microsoft avoids cannibalising Surface

Joe Werner

A laptop is not an alternative - at least not if portability (i.e. size and battery life) is the key.

Use case 1: work on a plane (or a train). Good luck with opening that laptop (though the weird surface-stand-thingy means it will be inconvenient at least!) - ok, so you need a netbook-sized machine.

Use case 2: a conference. Look at all of the geeks running around looking for a free power outlet to charge their mobile workstations.

You're indestructible, always believe in 'cause you are Go! Microsoft reinvents netbook with US$399 ‘Surface Go’

Joe Werner

Re: Bargain ?

Well... where do I start?

The screen resolution is aready high. No need to go higher, not on a 10" device. I would say this is already higher than one would really need.

And about the CPU: if you want to do stuff like vidoe editing get something else. I guess (I know from experience) that for most of the daily needs[1] this is good enough. Faster CPUs are also almost alway more power hungry, and for a device that has been designed to be portable this is a no-no.

But yes, it is interesting that they are now bringing back the netbook - when my old one broke (after almost five years of daily use on the commute to wok) I could not get something with: decent battery life (8 hours), decent storage (500 GB), and 10" screen - which was by then even more important to me than before: ever tried working on a plane with a laptop? Ever seen those people trying to open a 17" monster in Economy class (even on the European regular carriers = not Ryanair, Norwegian,...)? And then after an hour or so they run out of battery. With the old Samsung netbook I had about 8 hours of battery life: enough for airport + flight or a full day at a conference. And a real (but smallish) keyboard.

[1] heck, I was developing statistical methods on a two core AMD-underpowered Lenovo - during the weekend commute and in the evenings when playing around with new ideas. That was... a bit demanding, but the heavy lifting (=the evaluation with real data) was done on a cluster anyway. The only thing that really sucked was using Inkscape, for this I would have liked another 8GB of RAM and a faster CPU. I mostly managed to do that stuff in the office, so no problem there.

Fitness app Polar even better at revealing secrets than Strava

Joe Werner

Re: Not just national security

I know. They have that - now... (but then I could be mistaken and it was not Strava, I wrote I wasn't sure)

Joe Werner

Re: Not just national security

Yes, and apparently there have been cases of people using data from... I forgot - Strava? - to find out who owns high end bikes in order to nick them.

One thing, though, as a preemptive comment (also as a reminder for myself!): the readership of ElReg is likely [0] _not_ a cross section of society when it comes to educated use of that stuff, privacy concerns, or technical knowledge. And while I too bask in the smug feeling of superiority[1] of not having been in that data dump[2], nor in the CA / Faceborg data[3] (and others...) we should probably be a bit less "told ya so!! stoopid muggles!!one!eleven1!" (paraphrased).

So, one question to all of us: Can we do something? I know that educating users is... tedious, and educating people about personal privacy, control of information, basic operational security is an uphill battle, but can't we all try and educate one or two persons each about it? They don't have to become as paranoid as some people here. Do you have strategies to deal with that?

[0] p-almost-sure

[1] who doesn't have this?

[2] yes, I exercise. Yes, I use gps to track my runs / bike rides (new routes, at least, interesting to find out just where I got lost) - no, they are never put on any portal.

[3] ok, except very likely indirectly - we are all in there unless you have never had any contact with people using any f'book stuff

Decision time for AI: Sometimes accuracy is not your friend

Joe Werner

Re: This article is full of statistical analysis, but it is not about AI

Yeah, it's basic conditional probabilities. Something one covers in first year lectures. For geographers[1]. Yes, it is useful to remind people, no, it is not AI or ML or whatever (but don't tell the person who hired me - though I did explicitly tell them the difference[2] in the interview, go figure).

[1]I gave these lectures for my bad karma, I guess...

[2] I did quite a bit of statistical modeling and Bayesian stuff, and that's what they also need...

Automated payment machines do NOT work the same all over the world – as I found out

Joe Werner

Same experience...

... except it was in the third part of Gallia, where the bravest men live (as J.G.C. wrote more than MM years ago).

Registry to ban Cyrillic .eu addresses even if you've paid for them

Joe Werner

ACII stupid question and you get a stupid ANSI...

To be honest I never liked the idea of any special characters beyond 7 bit ASCII (the printable chars, excluding whitespaces[1]). Yes, inconvenient in some languages I am familiar with, as are the missing accents. No, not a deal breaker. The inclusion of other alphabets is mostly a way for the registrars to make more money.... and then there are the homograph attacks which are indeed super nasty and really hard - or impossible in some cases - to spot. So (to stay with the example in the article) Apple would have to register the domain with the cyrillic a, but also the i-without-the-dot-replacing-the-l (a charakter commonly used in e.g. Turkish).

(No, I do not feel terribly tolerant this fine morning, sorry)

(title is, I think, from The Nathack Song?)

[1] and that applies to file names as well! Especially whitespace... they have no place in a file or a path. I do not suggest going back to 8+3, but some things[2] made life considerably more difficult.

[2] do not get me started on the decimal character, some idiot companies use your system locale to define that when exporting data, and then thy build a f'ing csv, a _comma_ separated table, with the _comma_ as the decimal character.

UK taxman warned it's running out of time to deliver working customs IT system by Brexit

Joe Werner

Re: No worries

Knowing how government agencies work they'll put the tape on sticky side out....

Nananana - Katamari!

---> icon because it looks smaller than me...

Potato, potato. Toma6to, I'm going to kill you... How a typo can turn an AI translator against us

Joe Werner

Second example in the pic

The translation (even the "correct" one) is still wrong...

Learn (ok, machine-learn) the conjugation of the verbs, just because English does not have it (except for the 3rd person singular) it doesn't mean that other languages miss it as well! (the romanic languages have it at least)

"sie hat sich zu einer Feministin entwickelt" should be "she turned into a feminist". The translation is grammatically wrong, claiming that "they turned into a feminist" (singular vs. plural), then it should have read "sie _haben_ sich ... entwickelt".

And what is a "safe feminist"? Does not compute for me, and I am reasonably fluent in both English and German.

Not OK Google: Massive outage turns smart home kit utterly dumb

Joe Werner

Re: Repeat

They are not listening still

Not without the remote server, no.

Joe Werner



Sorry. Anyway. Many fellow commentards predicted this would happen, single point of failure etc. Now it has.

Labour MP pushing to slip 6-hour limit to kill illegal online content into counter-terror bill

Joe Werner


Remember that one? Just use a beheading-the-infidels video instead (or whatever)....

Israel cyber chief's 'pants' analogy for password security deemed, well, 'pants'

Joe Werner

If you are a medical doctor, this is certainly true (except for pharmacists who have to be able to decipher the prescriptions...)

Who wants to cram some BOFH skills into their brains? How about from, er, Google?

Joe Werner

Re: median

Nope. In this case it's probably the best you can do. 50% earned more than that amount. Interesting is of course also a measure for the width of the distribution.

The arithmetic mean is too strongly influenced by extreme values. Yes, it's optimal in the l2 sense, but not really informative here.

Personally reporting the quartiles would have been preferable, but the median is a good compromise. But most people don't care about uncertainties...

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

Joe Werner

This makes me remember two things:

1) I am getting old (forget that: I am old!)

2) the time when reinstalling Win98SE (you better did that more or less regularly, at least that was my experience at that time) and I got a BSOD proudly claiming that "a TrueType font has caused a General Protection Failure in the module SETUP.EXE".

That was the last time I installed a Microsoft OS on my personal PC. Those were for me the dual-boot days, as LaTeX was a major PITA on windows (and MikTeX still sucks, at least the installation scripts for additional packages). Then one day I realised that I had more or less stopped gaming[1] and not booted the Windows partition for a long time...

[1] a few years later I discovered Dwarf Fortress, which runs under Linux and is a major time sink though I have not yet tried the last two versions

Great news, cask beer fans: UK shortage of CO2 menaces fizzy crap taking up tap space

Joe Werner

Re: I can't get over this

Beer makes its own CO_2, but this helps only if it is bottled. If you have it in a proper 50l barrel (keg?) it needs to be hooked up to a CO_2 bottle on the tap. And most beer tastes better on tap than bottled. So unless you only drink the imported[1] bottled stuff you do have a problem.

< rant >

And for me, "lager" is just a fancy name for a bad beer. Seriously, there are so many good small-ish local breweries everywhere. Germany has several, the Netherlands and Belgium even more. Hell, nowadays you can even get really nice beer from Norway (7Fjell, Lysekloster, Haandbryggeriet, Nogne, Ægir ...) to avoid the Hansa (brewed in the rain - without a roof, I guess). The "lager" stuff mentioned in the article is... blegh. Kro', and also 1667 are the same "plörre" as Carlsberg, Corona, Beck's Gold, and not really an improvement over Bud (or Miller, or Coors, ...) and don't get me started on the 'Lite' stuff, which is an abomination without any taste. Alcohol free beer[1] at decent quality is possible: The one by Ægir is really nice, the standard Munkholmen is a bit malty for my taste. Bitburger 0.0% is pretty good, then there are a ton of wheat beers (Hefeweizen), a trend started by Erdinger I believe.

</ rant>

[1] by the time it reaches the destination at your pub it is past its best. Drink local stuff!

[2] sometimes I like having those, e.g. when it is hot, after a demanding physical workout, when I'm driving, also good for those who are pregnant or still breastfeeding. I drink beer because I like it, not because I want to get drunk.


Monday mornign and I need one of those ---->

Ubuntu reports 67% of users opt in to on-by-default PC specs slurp

Joe Werner

Re: Really small systems

Most of my systems have only one CPU, they might have more than one core[1] (ok, all of them do except my old laptop).

I would say: low-ish end laptops, though 4GB of RAM is enough for most needs except for the runaway firefox processes... Yes, if you are a serious gamer, or into video editing, or a number of other things then 4GB of RAM is ridiculously small, but for most of your daily needs it is ok. For me it is actually ok, but the heavy lifting is done elsewhere (cluster...).

[1] the article explicitly states that they have not analysed things like core count

Nintendo Labo: After a day spent fiddling with flaps, you may be ready to, er, Lego

Joe Werner

Re: That warm, fuzzy feeling

Yeah, I was a bit (read: a lot) shocked after I realised that the "cheap, throwaway, experimental" stuff needs a 300 quid or so games console. Thanks, I'll skip that. (let's wait and see, if the kids want one in the future I'll have a say in what they will get *rubs hands*)

One thing I really like about LEGO Mindstorms is that it lets me use all the skills (ok, a number of them) from the time I was still doing experimental physics. The control software is LabVIEW which we used in our lab. Still enjoy that! Only thing is that I need to visit my brother and ask nicely so he lets me play with his toys (he got it for his 30th birthday a few years ago). Not that I don't like visiting him and his family, but it's a bit of a drive... and his LEGO is currently stored because of a toddler who does not yet get the "this is daddy's toy, and also please don't stick it into your mouth, you'll suffocate".

I'll look at TinkerCAD. My kids are too young for that (at the moment), but you have to start at some point ;)

BOFH: Is everybody ready for the meeting? Grab a crayon – let's get technical

Joe Werner

Re: "I prefer not to answer that but suggest you wear gloves to work."

My thoughts exactly. But as commented above: if they are worth their pay they help the project / job / whatever, or at least act as a DMZ to deflect incoming interference from above. Oh, and make sure the techies in their jeans-and-dirty-t-shirt (or around here: outdoor trousers + t-shirt) are kept away from the upper floors... and yes, this sort of works for me at the moment.

... the GoreTEX one please, the one in expedition quality...

(WHO are you calling an Anorak?!)

What can you do when the pup of programming becomes the black dog of burnout? Dude, leave

Joe Werner

Re: Burnout isn't unknown in IT

Work is what you do to get money in order to live; it isn't your life

Tell that to most (if not all) scientists. I miss working in science, I really do, but the symptoms described here (esp. the forum) sound familiar.

Yes, I did love what I was doing. I'm not yet really glad I quit.

Creepy software knows what you are about to do... to that poor salad

Joe Werner


A prediction of a system past its mixing time is only possible in the statistical sense - and under assumptions about the boundary conditions, and then it's what I would call a projection. For me at least, a prediction is an initial value problem.

Keep your hands on the f*cking wheel! New Tesla update like being taught to drive by your dad

Joe Werner

Re: Auto-crash-pilot

Audis @ 0.2

And that's without auto pilot ;p

Microsoft loves Linux so much its R Open install script rm'd /bin/sh

Joe Werner

Re: Typical installer written in a large company

Nah, you don't have to be a pro developer. A mate wrote the install and deinstall scripts and did the whole packaging for a latex document class we developed together for .deb-systems. Yes, he is really bright, but not a software developer. He can read man pages and understand them and is OCD enough to obsess about little details until they are correct.

I'll buy him another round next time we meet ----->

Joe Werner

"What came in here was such an exhibition of incompetence that I can only assume they are doing it on purpose."

Yes. Alcohol helps, but only so much.

Microsoft tries cutting the Ribbon in Office UI upgrade

Joe Werner

Changing the design of the ribbon "is like adding paper to a blocked toilet. Best possible outcome: you've still got a turd. Albeit disguised a little." (ok, that referred to Vista, but the ribbon is... shite, to put it kindly).

Go ahead: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/16/bofh_2012_episode_12/

You know you want to spend half the day browsing the archives ;)


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