* Posts by Paul Johnston

310 posts • joined 13 Apr 2007


Website programming? Pffft, so 2011. Python's main squeeze is now data science, apparently

Paul Johnston

Find this bit hard to believe

It says " it is number one in the statistical domain,"

I'm surprised R doesn't fulfill this role.

Techie basks in praise for restoring workforce email (by stopping his scripting sh!tshow)

Paul Johnston

Recursion is difficult

I once advised a Professor that rather than staying with his very old Sparc box running Solaris under x86 was a better idea.

He bought a new machine and was not very happy as he said it was far slower than his old machine.

I said I couldn't see why but he was the respected professor of computer science.

A couple of days later he admitted there was an infinite loop in his Prolog code and once this was sorted it really was very fast.

Word boffins back Rimini Street in Oracle row: 'Full' in 'full costs' is a 'delexicalised adjective'

Paul Johnston

The bit that interests me is using "corpus linguistics"

Corpus Linguists tend to work in statistics rather than absolute rules and judgements.

So although they would say x is a delexicalised adjective it would often be governed by something like "97% of the times in 2000 occurrences based on a corpus of size 5000000 tokens taken from the specific domain of texts of legal representations in the USA"

Corpus linguistics is based on actual usage rather than abstract rules.

Domain of the corpus is core to this idea, the classic case is the difference in the use of adjectives to describe legal and non-legal drugs.

GCSE computer science should be exam only, says Ofqual

Paul Johnston

GCSE Computer Science

Perhaps you might want to look at what is actually in GCSE OCR Computer Science

I've got in front of me "The Revision Guide" and "Exam Practice Workbook" for my daughter who is taking it this year and it's not just about coding.

Sections on Components, Networks, Issues, Algorithms, Programming, Design Testing and IDEs and finally Data Representation.

One questions asks about 4 conditions from the Creative Commons license. FFS!

If you think the problem is schools IT kit think about Edsger Dijkstra and his "Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes" (okay I know it may not have been his quote) but you get the idea.

Mything the point: The AI renaissance is simply expensive hardware and PR thrown at an old idea

Paul Johnston

Have another drink on me!

Finally someone pointing out the Emperors Clothes are not all they are made out to be.

Being at a University we see a lot of the Futurist stuff and not many people are willing to say "hang on!"

Imperial bringing in budget holograms to teach students

Paul Johnston

Re: Virtual lecturer and audience

Manchester is very proud of its podcasts of lectures, very popular especially the 0915 ones I guess,

This two-year-old X.org give-me-root hole is so trivial to exploit, you can fit it in a single tweet

Paul Johnston

Yes to Centos

I tried on my Centos Box and it was indeed overwritten

Replaced with my backup of /etc/shadow.

Let the fun commence :-)

Break out the jelly and ice cream! Microsoft's Small Basic turns 10

Paul Johnston

Funny this came up

Over the last couple of weeks I've been visiting schools in Tameside (by son is going to senior school next year). He is keen on computers so visited the ICT departments and most talked about Scratch and python.

All except one which said they use Small Basic. Didn't think much of it until I saw this so it is being used somewhere. Not saying it's good of bad but looking at the GCSE Computer Science syllabus the actual language they learn to program in is fairly irrelevant.

Example question Identify three benefits of using layers when working with network protocols :-)

Linguists, update your resumes because Baidu thinks it has cracked fast AI translation

Paul Johnston

Re: Missing a Bit

On page 6 of the paper I put a link to it talks about this.

If you have a series of matched translations and the Russian ones generally have fewer words than the English ones which contains "is" the model "realises" in the Russian copular is implied and so deasl with it.

The same goes for definite and indefinite articles.

Clever eh!

Paul Johnston

Insert AI for added interest

I fail to see this is any advance in Kevin Knight's paper from 1999


With enough training data you get a better idea of what word follows another or group of others.

The fun comes with languages with relatively free word order i.e. where subject and objects carry case markers rather than by their position e.g. ones with lots of morphology.

Equifax IT staff had to rerun hackers' database queries to work out what was nicked – audit

Paul Johnston

The bit I found interesting

Reading the report one of the problems was the mailing lists of Sys Admins was out of date so when they e-mailed people to warn them of the vulnerability not everyone got it. I thought if you looked after something part of the job was to keep any eye out for announcements for said systems and if necessary pass that information upwards. I understand you cannot go patching stuff as and when you feel like it but at least try and keep them safe! Oh what do I know?

Google goes bilingual, Facebook fleshes out translation and TensorFlow is dope

Paul Johnston

Re: Urdu?

Short answer the way they are written, Hindi in an "Indian" script, Urdu in a "Perso-Arabic" script.

Long contentious argument Hindi is spoken by Indians, Urdu by Pakistanis so they must be totally different. Think Kurdish v Turkish where both sides have nuclear weapons hence icon.

Interestingly all the languages mentioned are classed as Indo-European so theoretically from similar roots.

VMware 'pressured' hotel to shut down tech event close to VMworld, IGEL sues resort giant

Paul Johnston

Re: Useful info

Makes you wonder if people will ever learn

Takes you ages to build a good reputation but it can be destroyed in an instant.

Isn't hubris great!

Brit Railcard buyers face lengthy, unexplained delays. Sound familiar?

Paul Johnston

Plus Bus

Here in the North West it is called a County Card.

Train Bus and limited trams all included.

The only problem is it isn't in anyway "smart" and so whenever there is an automated barrier I have to find someone to let me through as there is no bar/QR code on it!

Anyone who goes into Manchester Piccadilly will testify this can be fun.

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

Paul Johnston


As to encrypting the disk or more specifically the home directories we only do this on laptops, being mandated by our security policy. Since a lot of the installs I do are dual boot it makes access between the windows and linux partitions a lot harder but policy is policy.

Um, excuse me. Do you have clearance to patch that MRI scanner?

Paul Johnston

Re: Computerised medical devices need TWO computers

Couldn't agree more with your solution.

Just had to scan a SCSI disk from a Scanning Electron Microscope whose controlling PC was running Windows 2000. Even better when the machine has PS2 connectors for keyboard and mouse.

As soon as the PC goes so does the microscope!

Once again we get the "oh that sounds too complicated" comment when we ask to do it and the using DVD burners has it's whole range of issues. :-)

Crappy IoT on the high seas: Holes punched in hull of maritime security

Paul Johnston

Re: Not just open sea navigation...

Or sinking the bumboats!

Paul Johnston

Re: Not just open sea navigation...

It's quite hard to do damage in a situation like this by just changing the vessels direction. The only way I could see to close the canal for more than a very short period of time would be to scuttle it in a way it was hard to refloat and that's quite hard. You would have to rip out a large section and as the Suez canal isn't hard lined, well it wasn't the last tome I went through it. You really need to look at taking out the locks on something to create long term damage. So if you see a vessel called HMS Campbeltown that's the time to worry!

HPE donates 3 mini-supercomputers to UK universities boning up on Arm

Paul Johnston

The interesting question is did they ask anyone who said no thanks!

In the increasingly commercial world of IT provision at Universities I can see people saying no thanks.

Rackspace and power costs both running and cooling have to be recouped somehow. The people who can pay for this stuff in Universities tend to be those running Engineering (CFD and structural analysis) and Life Sciences (sequencing data). They are the ones who get big grants which need big iron to do their work. This looks "blues skies" rather than "must have" stuff hence them "giving it away". I understand Edinburgh as it's a computing research centre but as part of a general HPC system for non Comp-Sci groups not sure how useful it would be. YMMV!

My PC is broken, said user typing in white on a white background

Paul Johnston

Water and Electricity (see Icon)

Got a phone call from a user saying the monitor had started developing strange colours at the edges. The cluster had CRTs and they were getting on so I said guess it is failing and if they had a problem just move to another and we would replace it. Then they volunteered that it was making a crackling noise. My response was to just move away to another and I'd pop up to the top floor where it was. Then I get that bit where the user thinks they can diagnose the cause of the problem. Could it be the water dripping from the ceiling onto the monitor causing the problem? I possibly swore, I cannot remember, something like please just get the F* out of there and touch nothing. Safe to say a flat roof in Manchester was never a good idea.

The building is quite famous see http://www.the-modernist.org/shop/renold-badge

IT 'heroes' saved Maersk from NotPetya with ten-day reinstallation bliz

Paul Johnston

Re: 'internet was not designed to support the applications that now rely on it'

Seems a reasonable figure

(10/365) * (20/100) * annual turnover

Not got an exact figure for the turnover but revenue was over $35 billion.

Add overtime and other sundries and its a big bill.

Samba 4.8 to squish scaling bug that Tridge himself coded in 2009

Paul Johnston

Re: Samba is still relevant?

"ActiveDirectory is practically dead as more and more corporate PCs are not even registered in the Active Directory."

YMMV but not here!

In Soviet California, pedestrian hits you! Bloke throws himself in front of self-driving car

Paul Johnston

Yevgeny Zamyatin fan?

Possibly a literary explanation?

He wrote a book about someone who throws themselves under cars.

Then the classic dystopian future book "We"

Just a thought :-)

Now Meltdown patches are making industrial control systems lurch

Paul Johnston

Re: industrial control systems

The problem often is there isn't a parallel test system on which you can deploy patches.

If your kit costs tens of thousands (if not much much more) and is in use 24/7 asking "can you buy us a complete parallel system to test" is something you are going to have trouble getting past finance.

WW2 Enigma machine to be seized from shamed pharma bro Shkreli

Paul Johnston

Re: Fail - Please let this psychopath die in prison.

Was wondering how long it would take for prison rape to crop up in this thread.

The UK's super duper 1,000mph car is being tested in Cornwall

Paul Johnston


If you watch the youtube link they have people from Oracle there!

They use raspberry pi's feeding to the Oracle cloud.

AMD Ryzen beats Intel Core i7 as a heater (that's also a server)

Paul Johnston

Re: Nominative stuff

Enough Sadi!

Microsoft, Red Hat in cross-platform container and .Net cuddle

Paul Johnston

Recursion Rules!

1 Redhat running Microsoft running Redhat running Microsoft running

2 goto 1

Strip club selfie bloke's accidental discharge gets him 6 years in clink

Paul Johnston

"two obvious bulges"

From the Firestar website

"The Firestar series is a group of small, compact pistols designed for concealed carry."

More revealing than concealing it seems!

Feature snatcher Microsoft tweaks OneDrive

Paul Johnston

Garage Band

It's all a big (kicker) conspiracy I tell you! <- (Insert favourite Fall song here)

.. ..-. / -.-- --- ..- / -.-. .- -. / .-. . .- -.. / - .... .. ... then a US Navy fondleslab just put you out of a job

Paul Johnston

Just you wait

Many years ago (1979) I was doing O-Level seamanship with a view to joining the Merchant Navy.

Just before the exam there was an incident where a ship was in trouble with no power.

Semaphore was brought back onto the curriculum as a means of communicating without electricity.

Luckily never needed it in the four years I worked for BP but it seemed an eminently sensible decision.

Vapists rejoice! E-cigs lower cancer risk (if you stop smoking, duh)

Paul Johnston

Re: or short term quitting aid

Re numbers vaping it could just be the seem to be so obvious.

Saw a car and thought it was on fire with all the "smoke" coming out, just some guy vaping.

Is it you draw attention to the user but you often see people enveloped in a cloud of mist using them?

MongoDB ransom attacks soar, body count hits 27,000 in hours

Paul Johnston

Backups anyone

If you have to pay to get your files back that suggest there is only one copy.

Perhaps you could secure the problem then restore from backup?

Turns out there's a market for marijuana... plants' video surveillance

Paul Johnston

Bill Maher

Suggest you see Real Time for a cogent comment on this.

King's College London staggers from outage, replaces infrastructure services head

Paul Johnston

I feel sorry for the apprentice Service Desk Analysts

Great, you are on the end of a phone, trying to start your career, fixing something seriously fubar-ed and probably have never even seen the place or met the people your supposed to help. If that isn't going to put you off a life in IT I don't know what is?

Boffins automate code optimisation for multi-core CPUs

Paul Johnston

How much?

“... hope that end-users with some mathematical background will be able to use the system without the steep learning curve that is usually associated with proof assistants.

Another reasons for encouraging your children to take up maths as if one were needed.

Eric Raymond revisits his biggest mistake, updates 'Pilot' language after 20 years

Paul Johnston

Perl 6

Does perl 6 count?

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

Paul Johnston

Re: "Get used to life being different."

If anyone heard Unreliable Evidence on Radio 4 last week in their discussion on Prison might get the idea that Open / less supervised Prison is not always as easy or as safe for prisoners as their closed versions.

Swedish military unwittingly helped hose US banks in 2012/2013

Paul Johnston

Get Wallander on the case!

Problems with the Firewall anyone?

Bundling ZFS and Linux is impossible says Richard Stallman

Paul Johnston
IT Angle


Illegal or impossible, not sure they are the same.

'No safe level' booze guidelines? Nonsense, thunder stats profs

Paul Johnston

A Little Video


Nice little video, especially the bit about smoking and statistics.

Boozing is unsafe at ‘any level’, thunders chief UK.gov quack

Paul Johnston


My new years resolution is start early, finish late, at the pub.

Still not keen on people going to the pub for a ******* latte.

When I can get a pint in Starbucks feel free to stop me getting alcohol in a pub by ordering a bloody coffee.

Paul Johnston

Re: The Great Thing About the Internet

What could possibly make you think I'm an academic?

I'm not :-)


Paul Johnston

The Great Thing About the Internet

You can always find something in a blog which agrees with what you want to hear.

Give me the raw data and I'll work it out for myself.

Just saying it said in the 1960s they said a bottle of wine a day is obviously the way to go. Suppose you can find articles from then saying smoking is not a danger to anyone and you don't need to worry about asbestos.

I'm sticking to beer!

No root for you! Google slams door on Symantec certs

Paul Johnston

Re: What's the problem?

Does that include M&S ?

NZ Uni EMC broke considered ditching EMC before SNAFU

Paul Johnston

15% growth

The bit about adding 15% storage per annum is interesting as working at a Russell group University I see storage requirements/requests growing at a far greater rate.

For example as soon as you want to do full genomic comparisons of large groups or SPIM

(Selective Plane Illumination Microscopy) storage requests go through the roof.

Cambridge’s HPC-as-a-service for boffins, big and small

Paul Johnston

Meanwhile in Life Sciences

Running another analysis requires the samples are kept in a viable state and storing stuff like that makes digital storage look the easy option.

Fatally flawed RC4 should just die, shout angry securobods

Paul Johnston

Re: Other reasons it has not been dropped

As you say it's a very complex subject and IMHO one in which the sys admin should not ordinarily be involved in. We implement and in some cases advise but it's really a policy issue for the security team if you have one.

Still in my experience getting change on something which is perceived as a possible threat compared to something which is actually happening is damn impossible.

Video nasty: Two big bugs in VLC media player's core library

Paul Johnston


Not until you so kindly pointed it out!

Renault Captur: Nobody who knows about cars will buy this

Paul Johnston

Which is more dangerous?

Watching the little processing icon is as tiresome as it is dangerous.


drive like you stole it

Your guess is as good as mine.

I would thought for a lot of people having a car boy racers wouldn't steal is a positive advantage.


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