* Posts by Charlie Clark

7092 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

Just forget what Gartner said about AI in June 'cos CIOs are all over it now apparently

Charlie Clark Silver badge

The Chief Guffmongerer has spoken

And so it is time to sprinkle all your publications liberally with terms like AI, ML, because companies are going to be clamouring to put "AI" in everything: "smart" toothbrushes anyone?

DNAaaahahaha: Twins' 23andMe, Ancestry, etc genetic tests vary wildly, surprising no one

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: These mail-in genetic tests are crap

One of the reasons why the tests are so "cheap" is that they're part of another massive data mining access: everyone who gets a test done adds to their database, which they hope to monetise at some point in the future.

Twitter. Android. Private tweets. Pick two... Account bug unlocked padlocked accounts

Charlie Clark Silver badge

to get information that is useful and pertinent to you?

I think you might be overrating the utility. If it's essentially just passively reading feeds then it's not getting much data for Twitter to sell. And he'll presumably switch to a different service if it becomes available. For example, some travel companies will give your personalised updates on services via WhatsApp.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Too long.

Is anyone other than someone in the public eye still using this shit?

Note to editor: the collective noun for people using Twitter is definitely twats. Spell it thwaites if you want to go under a filter radar.

Most munificent Apple killed itself with kindness. Oh. Really?

Charlie Clark Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Rock and a hard place

Good post…

Under that dullard Cook,

Credit where credit's due: he's probably done a darn sight better since he took over than either you or I. Not only has optimised margins, he also made the switch to larger screen sizes, etc. OK, this was an acknowledgement that they were no longer leading the market. But sill impressive to do as well as they have done while depending almost entirely on their suppliers for new stuff.

A more achievable alternative would be to take the handset leasing out of the hands of networks

I think this is probably a non-starter because in many countries they might not be allowed to do it: in Europe exclusive I-Phone deals were annulled. Might be possible in America but it would effectively mean setting up a bank: Apple Capital. Would that be like GM and GE Capital? But would probably work until someone lobs a class action about being able to resell their handset. Or whatever the lawyers can dream up.

But, at the end of the day, if they don't reclaim the highground of innovation then not even builtin obsolescence will save them because functional equivalence will see more people replacing an expensive I-Phone with a good enough Android as long as it does WhatsApp, Fortnite, Netflix, or whatever they feel they can't live without. Leaves I-Tunes to lock people in. In other words, a very big bet on the upcoming streaming video service.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Why the analysts are right (this time)

Cooks excuses and apologies remind me of the car industry when it has got stuff wrong: looks of obfuscation but no details on how to change things. Of course, the first indication was the decision (in the previous quarter) to no longer release a breakdown of handset sales.

Once a company starts trying to hide the bad news, and that is what this is, you should expect worse to come. Some of this may be down to the perverse incentives that stock options provide: the pressure to keep profits or the shareprice up in 2018 could be as much to blame as anything else. That said, I think Apple is both smarter and better placed than other companies have been in similar situations. It has a very loyal base and an undoubtedly skilled workforce. It may have done fuck all innovation since Jobs died but it has still managed to do solid product development.

Having AI assistants ruling our future lives? That's so sad. Alexa play Despacito

Charlie Clark Silver badge


I find it ironic that a craft beer dispenser is dispensing with the craft of dispensing beer.

It is. But the "craft" beer market has little to do with the "real ale" one which I prefer. The prices at the place are eye-watering, so I don't go very often, but fair play to the guys as they seem to be making a go of it in a slightly less fashionable part of the Düsseldorf Altstadt and I'm generally in favour of anything that goes against the trend of Heineken everywhere.

Charlie Clark Silver badge


What have density or colour to do with volume?

Nothing. See above re. colour. But density and viscosity will affect flow. In a setup you will have a known pressure and pipe size but some liquids will flow at different speeds. That said, I'm not a fluid dynamics engineer so I could be talking absolute shite! ;-)

I think the taps are there both for deskilling and efficiency: getting skilled bar staff is getting harder and harder but also efficiency. The focus is on lots of small servings so if you can reduce the time it takes to pour these then it can make quite a difference.

That said, I'm only trying to point out that Silicon Valley solutionists often find the wrong problems to solve.

Charlie Clark Silver badge


I haven't looked at the details but I was thinking about anything that is measuring the flow which is likely to use an optical sensor. Easy enough for anything light and translucent, more of a challenge for a thick stout.

Charlie Clark Silver badge


FWIW the local craft beer bar has flow control pumps for serving, er, precisely 200, 300 or 500 ml. Not voice-controlled, because that bit is easy, but getting the volume right for fluids of differing densities and colours is remarkably hard.

Microsoft sends a raft of Windows 10 patches out into the Windows Update ocean

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Access 97

Yeah, the Windows ODBC driver will let you get at the data with the programming language of your choice. Handily, any passwords can also be easily recovered: don't think they're even encrypted but it is a long time since I had a look.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: MDBs? Really?

They got embedded in all kinds of products thanks to VB and you know the old saying — if ain't broke don't fix it — well, some of the boxes will be running those systems because there is no easy alternative as the supplier is no longer in business. I'm sure there's still a reasonable base of DOS-based systems for similar reasons.

Googlers to flood social media with tales of harassment in bid to end forced arbitration

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Or they can do some virtue signalling on the interwebs

Maybe you could clarify the difference between "virtue signalling" and "stating your opinion"?

I would define virtue signalling more as adopting a particular moral or political position for the sake of it rather than expressing an opinion or making an argument. The classic used to be "but won't someone think of the children?" but more politics and the interwebs have conspired to give us a set of binary, tribal positions to adopt: patriotic or internationalist; conservative or progressive, etc.

The problems with virtue signalling as I see it, are, it favours the echo chamber over engagement and is often at best patronising. For many upvoting something, repeating a sentiment is enough though any student of political history will show that this is not how change is brought.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Social media "campaign" versus legal challenge

If they can afford it sure, but taking a massive company to court is generally not cheap.

No, but if there is merit in the case then they are usually bodies, such as the ACLU (as I mentioned), that are willing to take it up. Or the legions of slacktivists could dip their hands into their pockets.

Personally, I think US law is fucked up when it comes to harassment and discrimination because they're usually treated as civil and not criminal issues.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Social media "campaign" versus legal challenge

Shove such a company into the public eye airing the dirty details for all to see and they're forced to respond.

Not really, they can, and frequently do, make some token gestures and sit it out. They can't do this with a court's judgement.

Click here to cure cancer.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: "requires employees to waive any rights to sue or appeal"

I assume that isn't the case in the US

I don't think contracts can enforce anything illegal but they can certainly be much more restrictive in the US than elsewhere. Two older examples I know of: employees can be required not too smoke at all ie. not even at home; Disney banned facial hair for employees but found this was unenforceable at Disneyland, Paris.

For all their vaunted constitutional rights, you can see the continuation of pre-enlightenment practices in much US law.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Social media "campaign" versus legal challenge

I'm not that familiar with the details of enforced arbitration but I can understand the attraction for both parties if it can provide a resolution faster than the courts. If there are problems with it (presumably the impartiality of the arbitrator) they could challenge the legality of the clause in the courts. And, if they have a case, I'm sure there'd be enough bodies like the ACLU to bankroll a challenge. The could even set up a union.

Or they can do some virtue signalling on the interwebs. Wonder what would be the more effective.

While Windows 7 wobbled, AI continued its relentless march at Microsoft

Charlie Clark Silver badge

In the case of 'switch' it is if ... elif ... else ... . It does the job.

Actually, in cases where you might want to use a

in Python you can use OO and use dictionary dispatching where each condition is mapped to a function or method because
is foolproof but can be a pain to maintain.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Chacun à son goût

Possibly data scientists and software R&D should already be accustomed to programming in the best language for the job and not require Python "because its easy for beginners"

Bit of chicken and egg. It's no coincidence that Python has become so popular in this and other domain of occasional programmers. Of course, it's also no coincidence that the Python libraries mainly wrap around some C++, GPU, etc. code written by real men programmers. And that is just how it should be.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Tick tock

Already put out a retirement notice for my popular library. But expect existing systems with Python 2.7 to continue to run for a few years yet.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Chacun à son goût

Never understood the attraction of python.

Then it's probably not for you.

Many of us find it good for the precisely the reasons you dislike it, some of which are why it's becoming the first programming language for the new crop of "data scientists" (dreadful term, but there it is) to build their models with.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Azure not Linux

Yet another way to screw a victim with a malicious email attachment.

Possibly, although as the store release shows, it can be effectively sandboxed. They're looking for ways for people to continue doing their work in Excel rather than Jupyter Notebook and using Excel just as the output format.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Azure not Linux

Yes, we still have problems getting our heads around Microsoft’s born-again evangelising of Linux, too.

Adding support for Python 2.7 to Azure hardly counts as evangelising. It's just business. Ballmer's Windows-only strategy faiiled and Nadella was given the job. Revenues from Windows aren't growing, those from Azure are, Python is becoming a key language for the kind of computationally intensive work that Azure is touting and some businesses have big investments Python 2 code.

More interesting, perhaps, is the idea of adding support for Python as a scripting language for Office as VBA is increasingly rejected by younger programmers.

A billion-dollar question: What was really behind Qualcomm's surprise ten-digit gift to Apple?

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Pot, meet Kettle

Apple: give as upfront cash rebate or we'll go elsewhere

Qualcomm: OK, but only if you agree to buy only from us

Consumers are always the losers in these deals. But we knew that anyway because this is an FTC investigation…

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: I do wonder...

and not forcing a complex deal with incentive payments, rebates,

Because it's not as if Intel has ever done something like that before. Oh, hang on. Wasn't this the subject of a massive anti-trust investigation by the European Commission?

It's raining, then? Hallelujah. Big Blue super 'puter sharpens forecasts

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Observations

Makes me wonder if these models account for anything like that.

Possibly, there are lots of such boundaries but, in general, more sensors rather than specific local models are a better way of handling them, which is why the state meteorological agencies are so keen on sea surface temperature sensors to help them track storm systems.

Charlie Clark Silver badge
Black Helicopters

More detailed is not more accurate

A 3km model shows much finer detail and will enable more accurate region and locality forecasts

While the new setup might indeed be able to provide more accurate forecasts, it's not a given; it could continue to be wrong just in higher definition.

My understanding is that the biggest deficit for forecasting is the lack of sensors, hence, the various ideas to use mobile devices and networks to gather more data. If this is the case, then can we have our forecasts without ads, as we're obviously adding value collecting all that data, which can then be sold at a profit to farmers, governments and spooks.

Goddamn the Pusher man: Nominet kicks out domain name hijack bid

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Especially as they don't seem to be doing anything with it at the moment. In Jormany at least I think they'd have more of a chance of getting the domain back: domains, like trademarks, have to be asserted to remain valid so squatting on them is of little value. But, yeah, they shouldn't have let it lapse in the first place.

Amazon Mime: We train (badly) an AI love bot using divorce bombshell Bezos' alleged sexts to his new girlfriend

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: AI?

That's really more like a simple statistical model that I ran a few decades[1] ago

There's a bit more to it but, yeah, that's basically how machine learning works. The main advances are in the NLTK for analysis and training so that more general purpose systems can be developed. But, personally, I think the Twat-O-Tron is all we'll ever need.

Alphabet board smacked with sueball for paying off Google execs accused of sexual harassment

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: PR stunt

I guess you missed the bit about it's the shareholders that are suing.

I didn't miss it. The whole point about AGMs is that shareholders get to vote on the actions of the board. That boards are often not held accountable is another matter (something to do with the majority of shares now being held by a couple of funds and founders holding all the votes) but the AGM should be considered as the court for shareholders.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: PR stunt

Ooh, I could be onto a record for downvotes here! I guess we'll just have to see what the court says, but this is why companies have shareholder meetings to vote on the action of the board.

What's that you say? No one sued Microsoft over AQuantive, Nokia, Skype? Or Jeffrey Immelt for his bad bets? Investors lost billions as a result of those decisions and they still didn't sue. Makes you wonder…

Charlie Clark Silver badge

PR stunt

The case doesn't have much legal merit. If people left voluntarily then there is no case to answer. If they were guilty of harassment then there would be no need to pay them off.

Peak Apple: This time it's SERIOUS, Tim

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Why health is Apple's target...

Drug companies have to take a gamble every time they make a new drug

Not always. Lots of them have discovered techniques for extending patents by tinkering with molecules. But, in general, the current system has created perverse incentives that favour very expensive niche products over cheaper but broader solutions. This has particularly affected areas like vaccination and antibiotics.

But in the US the FDA restrictions combine with the ability to advertise prescription medicines to drive up prices. The lobbying, the incentives to doctors and advertising are the main reasons why prescription medication is so expensive there.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Long support life is part of Apple's value

They could offer AppleCare for longer time periods

I'm sure they'd love to do that, then it will be a straight Apple tax.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: RE: Charlie Clark

That could just be the KISS principle.

It could, but it isn't: it's about forcing manufacturers to use ChromeOS for larger devices. ChromeOS, that's the browser OS with no local storage but that can also run Android apps.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: RE: Charlie Clark

In my example, Google would continue manufacturing their own devices

Google doesn't make its own devices.

The rest of your comments are a collection of "what ifs". Sure, Google can restrict access to its services but in doing so, it runs the risk of reducing its market. I don't have the numbers but I'm fairly confident that Google makes more money from running ads in apps than it does on the commission for paid for apps, which means it wants its services on as many devices as possible.

But it does seem to limbering up for a its own unnecessary platform war. Instead of embracing and supporting things like DeX or the Planet Gemini, it seems to be positively discouraging manufacturers from developing sub-notebooks with Android.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Durability?

But you can sell your iPhone for $600 when you are done with it, Apple are clearly factoring this into the price now.

I don't expect it to happen soon but it would be interesting to see if those much vaunted resell prices started to fall. The rebate programme will provide a floor to prices but we may see lower than expected values for the 2018 models.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Why health is Apple's target...

Everyone's on the make, knowing that the insurers will pick up the cost (and pass it on, plus margin, to the consumer).

If you look at some of the bankruptcies, you'd know that it's a bit more complicated than that. It's certainly an inefficient market (which healthcare generally is) – you can't really shop around except for cosmetic surgery – and outcomes are very expensive when compared with other countries. And there's the whole un- and underinsured section…

Just like everywhere else, money is generally lost on everyday and chronic complaints (vaccines, old age, etc.) and made in spectacular niche areas such as blood cancers where individual treatments can cost more then $ 100,000 per year. A bit like the phone business!

Pity the poor drug companies that are forced to spend so much money on advertising and lobbying research and development.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Market "too emotional?"

I took that "Market is too emotional" comment to be referring to the STOCK market

Indeed. The object for which the term irrational exuberance was coined. Depending on how their feeling, traders will tell you there looking at the "fundamentals" or "prospects for growth".

At least two Swedish Riksbank Economic Prizes (known incorrectly as Nobel Prizes for Economics) have been awarded demonstrating that, at any one time, only a part of the market knows what it's doing, but over time it tends to get it right. And that was before the computers got involved in the trading…

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: RE: Charlie Clark

By "Lock down" i meant Google could screw over all the manufacturers and become the only one creating phones running Fuschia.

Sure they could but at this stage how much would that matter? Manufacturers could for years continue to produce Android phones and even set up some kind of joint entity to maintain Android. If Google ever does switch from Android to Fuchsia, and that is a big if, they will have to do a lot of work to get manufacturers to come along. As we've already reached market saturation, it would take a lot longer for any competing OS to gain the kind of market share that Android has achieved.

No, the bigger risk appears to be in what hoops you have to jump through to be able to use GMS, including, I believe, not making Android devices that compete head-to-head with ChromeOS due to a platform war* within Google.

* Like the kind that caused Nokia so much trouble. You tend to get them when there's not enough competition in the market.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: RE: Charlie Clark

Until Fuschia replaces Android and Google locks it down...

There's no real indication of that happening (either as a replacement for Android nor in terms of the licence) and Fuchsia is even more liberally licensed, because it means less lawyer time. Where Google does lock stuff down is in the licence for GMS (Play Services, et al.), because it understands that we generally care more about the services than we do about the OS.

Charlie Clark Silver badge


"I do think, looking back, in the future, you will answer that question, Apple's most important contribution to mankind has been in health."

Health has been the next big thing for years and yet the revenues have failed to materialise. Lots of companies have bet big on gadgets and personal data revolutionising health. And they've failed. It's very much a service industry and that's where we'll see the changes and also what drives the changes. This is why Amazon is getting into the prescription business and Google in the health record management one. All the consumer gadgets on earth will be worth shit if they don't get regulatory approval.

So, my prediction is that Apple's most important contribution to mankind will never be considered to be health. They should hope to be remembered for the way they have managed to combine design, hardware and software in their products. Whether you liked them or owned them, there's no denying that the Macs, the I-Phones and I-Pads were market-defining products.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

I agree largely with you in sentiment but not quite in the details. Apple's numbers are still fantastic, they're just not growing any more. They still have some fantastic people in the company but leadership does seem to be flagging. But, given the resources they have, they're still have plenty of opportunities.

Compare this a bit with Microsoft over the last twenty years: fumbled lots of chances, made some terribles bets (AQuantive, Nokia, etc.) but they also got some things right: Azure, supporting other OS systems.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

What else? A fucking magical notch.

Germany has a problem with the entire point of Amazon's daft Dash buttons – and bans them

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Just dumping the stuff in a cart wouldn't be a terrible option.

I'm actually surprised the Germans haven't gone after the buy using Alexa option as I think that's the same as using a dash button with no indication of the price.

It would have to be a separate court case and I think the Dash buttons were introduced earlier. But it is also slightly different. No doubt we will see stuff related to Alexa, but I suspect these are more likely to relate to the microphone being on all the time.

xHamster reports spike in UK users getting their five-knuckle shuffle on before pr0n age checks

Charlie Clark Silver badge

You can't be free publicity.

The details of the report, especially regarding censorship are interesting. Then there's this:

Thanks to increased government censorship, and the closure of free platforms like Tumblr, consumers are once again taking porn seriously — and paying.

In other words: keep it up Sajid, we're making a fortune!

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Incompetence expected

Auntie seems to know when I access the likes of iPlayer on a VPN

Depends a lot on the VPN. They do regularly trawl for ip addresses and block them but just as regularly they have removed previously blacklisted ones.

Two out of five Silicon Valley techies complain Trump's H-1B crackdown has hit 'em hard

Charlie Clark Silver badge

President Flip-Flop

Saw him last week talking up (legal) immigration for tech companies so I guess it's only a matter of time until this is "walked back". Trump doesn't care about immigration – he's employed lots of illegal workers on his building sites over the years – but he loves the adulation he gets at rallies when he talks tough.

Wanted – have you seen this MAC address: f8:e0:79:af:57:eb? German cops appeal for logs in bomb probe

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: GDPR says no

So, just to get this straight. When the police issue an appeal for "a 5ft 10in tall man wearing jeans and a red puffa jacket" in connection with a crime, that's fine, but a MAC address isn't?

Absolutely, which is why they so rarely use names in such circumstances. So, a Lenovo X13 Thinkpad, or whatever, the manufacturer says the device is, would also be fine.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: GDPR says no

One thing the police will be aware of is the extent of the exceptions granted to them under GDPR.

It's not about the police, it's about the companies holding and potentially releasing the data. You are allowed to hold this data for a limited time for your own purposes, such as cyberattacks, but not for the general behest of third parties. This is why the various data retention laws were struck down by the German constitutional court.

The police can always apply for, and will usuallly get, a warrant to look at the data but companies are not allowed to do their work for them.

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