* Posts by Nick L

171 posts • joined 16 Aug 2006

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How DeepMind's AlphaGo Zero learned all by itself to trash world champ AI AlphaGo

Nick L

Reminds me of a conversation not that long ago with a building society when we were trying to modernise their mortgage origination (application and opening) processes. We showed how wonderful whooshing the data around would be, and the customer nodded and asked, "is it better than Maureen?"

"What's a Maureen?" we ask.

Turns out Maureen retired a couple of years ago but comes in for a couple of hours each day to print, check, take action on and do all the processing needed for mortgage applications. She basically kept the whole place going, and was costing them less than £10,000 a year... She even would text updates on progress to customers if they asked for it. When she didn't come in it took a couple of people almost all day to do the same, which they admitted might be a concern as time went on.

We asked them to let us know when Maureen finally stopped working or if they wanted to increase volumes (which they didn't). I suspect she's still there :)

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EasyJet: We'll have electric airliners within the next decade

Nick L

Electric planes do get lighter...

Chemical energy is stored in the batteries, and converted to other forms... e=mc^2, so by releasing energy you're reducing mass of the batteries.

Very, very, very, very slightly.

But you knew you could rely on some commentard to point this out. I decided to make it my job.

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More data lost or stolen in first half of 2017 than the whole of last year

Nick L

Re: What do you mean by ''lost'' ?

It's worth reading the report, as it does explain a bit more... Accidental loss counts for 18% (166 incidents), with malicious outsiders being by far the biggest challenge (74%) but malicious insiders working their way up too at 8%, or 71 incidents...

That's just one of the data points in there. There's plenty more.

Take with a pinch of salt, but it is good evidence to change an organisation's mindset on security.

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Google wants to track your phone and credit card through meatspace

Nick L

GDPR...

I am at a loss to understand how this could possibly work in when GDPR is being enforced, which is a year and a day away... Presumably "consent" will be required, but I still think this may be problematic with the new legislation. Thankfully.

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Europe's data protection rules set a high bar for consent – and UK ICO welcomes your thoughts

Nick L

And if you don't have consent...

And if you don't have consent to these standards, you must stop processing the data.

So that reliance you had years ago on the "if you do not want to hear from X, click this box twice, knock on wood and shout Beetlejuice three times" consent is not consent.

You bought a list in?  Be prepared to disclose where that came from to the subjects, and be sure that their process was compliant too.

This is one small part of GDPR, and there's lots of little Gotchas like this. I must admit I'm impressed with the ICO guidance which is clear, easy to read, and actionable.

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Up close with the 'New Psion' Gemini: Specs, pics, and genesis of this QWERTY pocketbook

Nick L

"Ships November 2017"

Fantastic idea, and I absolutely want one, but from where they are now to shipping in November 2017 isn't a plan, it's a pipe dream.

They plan to use an off the shelf PCB and display, and "concentrate on the plastic and metal work". Doing this would give them a leg up on certification etc but it won't mean they're able to deliver by November this year from where they are. Just getting a keyboard out of the door in that time would be good going. How many design iterations can they get through before November? I realise they have a working prototype, but even off the shelf components have a habit of doing strange things when combined...

If they had a realistic plan that I could believe, I'd back them but as it is I think they're being way too optimistic on timescales. I've seen too many kickstarter and indiegogos fail for exactly that reason, which then burns funds and leaves backers with nothing.

I really hope I'm wrong, in which case I'll happily shell out for the full price version.

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Brexit judgment could be hit for six by those crazy Supreme Court judges, says barrister

Nick L

Actually, this brings legal clarity...

So it would have been better to have triggered article 50, then have someone bring this challenge at that time, pointing out that Article 50's first sentence is "Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements", and our laws state that only an act of Parliament can alter an act of Parliament? That would have been more damaging.

What's the problem with asking parliament to vote on this?

Sovereignty is sovereignty.

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Microsoft thinks time crystals may be viable after all

Nick L

Anyone remember Steorn/Orbo?

Steorn, around 10 years ago, claimed to have found an anomaly based on moving magnets around in certain ways. They then claimed they could recreate the anomaly using solid state devices. So far they've failed to reliably demonstrate this and have consumed something like $20Million in investment funding, but time variant magnetic fields and some sort of lack of symmetry was proposed as an explanation for what they claimed they occasionally saw...

We seem to not really understand time much at all. There certainly seems more to know. Interesting times.

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Microsoft releases firmware fix for faulty Surface Pro 3 batteries

Nick L

Re: So far so good...

In case anyone cares, my SP3 battery capacity is now showing as 41,732mWh compared to a design capacity of 42,157mWh and a cycle count of 248. Battery life is back to a full day and now regularly lasts a full day - but admittedly I don't sit running encoding tasks and visual studio compiles all day.

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Nick L

So far so good...

My battery had dropped from its design capacity of 43Wh to 17 in July, and was dropping day by day. I'm on the Insider program and I suspect something was pushed out last week, as capacity mystically has been recovering since and I'm now up to 35Wh and still trending upwards, which after 247 discharge cycles doesn't seem bad.

Edit: just to add I've been working on battery today for 4 hours, and still have 39% left, which claims to be 2h 57m... This is the best I've seen in a long time.

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Vale, LOGO creator Seymour Papert, who taught us that code can be creative play

Nick L

Re: Slight Criticism

I went and found the wikipedia article, which is good reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seymour_Papert?oldid=cur . Worth a read: I'll not put spoilers in.

I liked the article, as I enjoy reading how someone has inspired someone else to do stuff, but a link for more about Seymour's life wouldn't go amiss.

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Microsoft tweaks TCP stack in Windows Server and Windows 10

Nick L

Already in the fast ring...

What a great idea! I bet Microsoft are glad you suggested that, as they'd never have thought of it... Oh, hang on...

Some things, for example TCP Fast Open, have been in the fast ring for quite some time. I know because there was an issue with the implementation a few months ago that meant some sites using TCP fast open would not work properly - notably some Google properties. This was withdrawn, fixed and it's back in the fast ring as an optional setting within edge, turned on via a setting in about:flags. It's now working with every site I tried it on.

https://blogs.windows.com/msedgedev/2016/06/15/building-a-faster-and-more-secure-web-with-tcp-fast-open-tls-false-start-and-tls-1-3/

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CONFIRMED: Google bakes custom data centre chips

Nick L

Tenser, said the tensor...

Is it ironic that in the Demolished Man, a jingle / earworm with the line "tenser, said the tensor" was used to allow people to conceal their intentions from those that want to know their inner thoughts - telepaths, in the book, but perhaps an AI..?

Eight, sir; seven, sir;

Six, sir; five, sir;

Four, sir; three, sir;

Two, sir; one!

Tenser, said the Tensor.

Tenser, said the Tensor.

Tension, apprehension,

And dissension have begun

- Alfred Bester, The Demolished Man

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Politician claims porn tabs a malware experiment, then finds God

Nick L

Re: A Psalmist Indeed!

I thought I might have been first with it... but no. Have an upvote!

I would like to point out that in a twist to traditional pronunciation guides, in this instance the P is fully sounded and the S is silent.

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Chaps make working 6502 CPU by hand. Because why not?

Nick L

Missing the point

Yes, of course they could do it with an FPGA. They've taken the netlist for this from a javascript simulator, so building the FPGA would be trivial.

I think someone above summed it up nicely when they said "art". The 6502 was a wonderful thing (disclosure: I am a Chuck Peddle fan) and this homage to it is fantastic geekery in the extreme. Things don't have to have a point or a purpose.

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IRS 'inadvertently' wiped hard drive Microsoft demanded in audit row

Nick L

oh. him.

Sco's bulldog... Yes, that went well. Thank you again to groklaw!

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Google chap bakes Amiga emulator into Chrome

Nick L

Why's this news? Check the dates...

I really don't get why this is news. It was release almost exactly 2 years ago in December 2013... what is slightly strange is the lack of attribution to the P-UAE team, notably Gnostic, who did a hell of a lot of work to take WinUAE and get it working on other systems and of course to Toni Wilen, the absolute driving force behind WinUAE. (Disclosure: I made some very, very simple and limited changes to PUAE to better compile on OSX)

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Hey, Facebook – these are the new Like buttons you should have used

Nick L

Sign up for premium already!

Facebook Premium users have had this for a few weeks, and more besides. It's well worth the £5.99 a month.

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Apollo 15 commander's lunar timepiece goes under the hammer

Nick L

Worked for Agent...

The agent smart watch raised a million dollars on kickstarter and has delivered sweet fanny adams. I fully expect this state of affairs to continue.

So there's form on kickstarter for such stuff. Go for it, I say!

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'One Windows' crunch time: Microsoft tempts with glittery new devices

Nick L

Re: two problems

@Tim 11: have you looked even briefly at the universal windows platform dev guides? Your first point has been considered and addressed as one of the first topics of UWP... It's as if they've thought of that. As for the second "probably not desirable" across devices: having a kernel that works in anything from routers all the way up to whatever you can think of seems to have been quite popular for the Linux kernel...

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Microsoft sabotages own Lumia smartmobe flagship launch

Nick L

Re: No comments an hour after posting.

I picked up a 640 - the bog standard one - locked to AT&T for my wife whilst in the states, which AT&T kindly unlocked for me. Just under $80, and it's a superb phone: responsive, decent camera (with live pictures, imagine that!) SD card slot, 4G LTE... I'm genuinely impressed. It'll update to 10 when it's available, but right now I'm more than happy with it, as is my wife. Whether this is the sweet spot for Windows phone, I don't know, but I certainly think that device is pretty much getting it right. Will be interesting to see what extras the top end range pack in, and the price point...

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Fancy a mile-high earjob? We've had five!

Nick L

Preferred noise isolating... until bose 25s

I've tried quite a few different noise isolating headphones, and favourites have been up until now the Etymotic ER-4i, which do isolate quite brilliantly. After a 10 hour flight my ears do know that I've been wearing them for 10 hours though!

Tried the Bose 25s, despite preferring passive. Previously, I must admit that I don't Bose well at all: for me, a triumph of marketing over performance. Beats for the previous generation, if you will ;-)

But I bought a set of these in Schiphol whilst on the way to the US (€269, so about £190) and my goodness, they're superb. Goes from noise to practically nothing at the flick of a switch: genuinely astonishing. Sound isn't bad, either.

Downside? The crying child's cries come through nearly perfectly, with no background noise... Oh, and you can hear all the little 'alarm' noises because there's no background noise!

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Windows 10 Edge: Standards kinda suck yet better than Chrome?

Nick L

Re: Developer Tools

Interested in this - could you expand a little, please? (Not trolling, genuinely interested)

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NSA snooped on German chancellors for DECADES: Wikileaks

Nick L

Could have been worse...

He could have tried "Ich bin ein Pariser..."

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That EVIL TEXT that will CRASH your iPhone: We pop the hood

Nick L
Coat

Amiga coders lecacy, perhaps?

The one single address you could be guaranteed of finding something useful in the Amiga memory map was at 0x00000004, and in it would be the address of exec.library. Offsets then provided the various function calls...

Maybe old habits die hard ;-) . Don't bother - I'm already reaching for my coat...

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German watchdog rips off Facebook's thumbs after online fracas

Nick L

Google analytics...?

Thinking out loud, what about Google analytics? Must admit I block that at the router, but...

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A good effort, if a bit odd: Windows 10 IoT Core on Raspberry Pi 2

Nick L

and the new twingo

New Renault engine is rear engined, rear wheel drive, too...

Hang on, wasn't this once about the raspberry pi? Oh well!

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Self-STOPPING cars are A Good Thing, say motor safety bods

Nick L
Coat

Re: Transitional period

Happens now: people slam on the brakes unexpectedly because they see a cat/dog/claim for whiplash... What does concern me about automated systems is that we are basically abdicating responsibility to those automated systems and expecting them to get on with it. Parking a car without reversing sensors when you're used to 'em might lead to a small dent... Not checking your blind spot because you have a blind spot warning system might miss a bike, or the system might have failed completely... Forgetting to brake because you thought adaptive cruise control was on and should have slowed the car down, or the emergency brake system should have kicked in, is possibly fatal.

My wife's new car has adaptive cruise control and emergency braking. The disclaimers are quite clear, assuming you ever look at the manual... It still feels eerie to use adaptive cruise control and have the car slow down then speed up for you without you taking any action. It works, but I'll be damned if I'm trusting my and my family's life to something that might malfunction due to dirt on the sensor.

(From the manual: The efficacy of the radar sensor can be impaired by contamination such as slush or snow, or by environmental conditions such as heavy rain or spray. And "The system is not a substitute for the full concentration of the driver. ")

How long before the most dangerous component of a car - the nut behind the wheel - has zero control? Maybe not this decade, but definitely in my lifetime.

Coat, please, I'm leaving. Mine's the one with the 15 year old Elise's keys in the pocket. The one with no traction control, ABS, or power steering... The one that it feels like you're actually driving.

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Jamie Oliver's ministry of malware served slops AGAIN

Nick L

Liability...

How long before we see claims for damages due to this sort of thing? (Or has it already happened)

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Volkswagen Passat GT 2.0-litre TDI SCR 190 PS 6spd DSG

Nick L

Re: the illusion of choice

The Skoda Octavia's not the same car though: that's based on the Golf platform. For the same platform as the A4/Passat, you'd need to be looking at the Superb. At least Seat have given up trying to compete in this sector.

IT angle? None. Who cares.

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Nick L

"Very sensible"

Those two words sum up the Passat. "Very sensible". It's a pleasant enough car, but it's blander than a bland thing being incredibly bland. The motoring equivalent of magnolia paint. Does absolutely nothing wrong, but does absolutely nothing to allow you to enjoy driving.

And of course "very sensible" doesn't equate to buying a new car at list price.

I think El Reg is a little confused at the competition, too. The BMW competition would be the 3 series, or 4 series grand coupe with 4 doors (no, I have no clue, either...) but not the 5, which is gargantuan. A4? Indeed, as it's the same platform.

But the biggest issue: 35 grand for something that's merely competent? 1 year old Mondeo and a 10 year old Elise would still be way under that, get you and the family from A to B cheaply, and you + 1 other from X to Y - preferably a track - with as much thrills as you want, and still cost less in depreciation.

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iPhone case uses phone's OWN SIGNAL to charge it (forever, presumably)

Nick L

Steorn? Is that you?

Anyone remember Steorn? Free limitless energy, demonstration soon! *

*-cancelled. Then again. Then showed something that wasn't free limitless energy.

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Boeing 787 software bug can shut down planes' generators IN FLIGHT

Nick L

GCU...

GCU puts me in mind of Iain M Banks' incredible craft the size of small cities... Bit of a way to go to get there! (Yes, I realise GCU is generator control unit )

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Nick L

"just hanging in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't"

Turning an aircraft into a brick? Reminds me of Douglas Adams, whose description of the Vogon Space Fleet was memorable. "The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't."

Still smirk thinking of that.

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'Use 1 capital' password prompts make them too predictable – study

Nick L

Try signing up to Boots...

Try signing up to Boots.com. The password requirements are quite frankly ridiculous, and ended up with me typing in garbage - which is probably what they want.

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Quid-A-Day Nosh Posse taunted with sausage sarnie snap

Nick L

Gwyneth?

> "Gwyneth Paltrow... recently failed to to survive for seven days on $29"

Has she passed away? Shouldn't someone tell the papers?

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Oh Em Pee! Giant Android tinkles on Apple in Google Maps graffiti

Nick L

Quite surprised...

Given how much attention Google is putting on selling map presence to companies, I'm surprised they're not rigorously vetting submissions, as I can see a future where map graffiti ("Company X suxx" with a big arrow) is something they have to deal with...

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The coming of DAB+: Stereo eluded the radio star

Nick L

Re: " it is harder to spot in a car most of the time."

Don't blame the implementation on the technology! My car (2014 bmw) holds dab perfectly from Leeds to Reading and back, and my wife's Golf is similarly perfect. On that experience I bought a 20 quid portable thing from PC world, which is fine until you move, and this rather negates the word "portable"...

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Popular crypto app uses single-byte XOR and nowt else, hacker says

Nick L

Qnza vg!

Qnza vg! Fbzrbar unf qbar gur ebg-13 wbxr

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Home Office awards Raytheon £150m over e-borders cancellation

Nick L
Joke

RSL - how's that pronounced?

Just wondering how one should pronounce RSL, that's all...

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Surface Pro 3 update has so much new stuff for sysadmins, we can't fit it all in one headline

Nick L

Plus an install progress bar...

Must admit I've been a little nervous updating firmware on my SP3, but this time around the boot time installer now shows a progress bar under the Surface logo. This is good for my nerves.

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RIP Sir Terry Pratchett: Discworld author finally gets to meet DEATH

Nick L

Not just shock... Grief.

I don't really do emotional, but I've been fighting back tears here too. His writing really did affect me: it made me laugh out loud, it made me sweaty about the eyes, it made me ecstatic, it made me rage... You can't go through that emotional wringer and not feel a connection and utter admiration for the genius that put the words together.

RIP Terry. The thing that's making me smile is, as others have pointed out, you took on Alzheimer's and arguably won.

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Nick L

Re: ONE IS SAD

I recently made it my mission to try and find a replacement for my utterly knackered AFP t-shirt. I failed.

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Would YOU touch-type on this chunk-tastic keyboard?

Nick L

Time for Chording keyboards to make a resurgence?

Is it about time someone "invented" chording keyboards, like the Microwriter, again?

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Quantum computers have failed. So now for the science

Nick L

Re: Multiuniverse theory

I take it you've read "The Trouble with Physics" by Lee Smolin? A very good read, and whilst not quite comparing "string / brane / x theory" to a religion, it's on much the same lines.

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Nick L

Re: Those Bell inequalities...

Agreed. Every time I try to understand the reasoning behind the Bell theorems and inequalities, I can't help but think "yes, but surely" and then struggle. I realise that's the default reaction and that much better brains than mine have been trying to find the detail of the "yes but" since they were first proposed. To me there's a big non-sequitur in the logic.

Really interesting article, more like this please. And my vote is that we are in a virtual universe... but so what.

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Pebble Time Steel ready in May. Plus: Now you can strap on sensors, GPS ... Geiger counter

Nick L

"We apologize, but it looks like something's gone wrong"

"Gateway Timeout" on Kickstarter.com when trying to authorise a payment. Bit crappy, really: had the same problem when I tried to back the first batch... Oh well, looks like it's not meant to be.

We apologize, but it looks like something's gone wrong. We've been notified about this issue, and we're currently looking into it.

Thanks for your patience, and sorry for the inconvenience. Please try again later.

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Hey biz – cut fraud with digital ID verification. Yes, like Verify – Maude

Nick L

go with some one you trust...

Bankid, popular in the Nordics, is bank issued and can be used on some government services. It exists, and is proven. Why not take that route?

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Want a cheap Office-er-riffic tablet? Microsoft Windows takes on Android

Nick L

Surprisingly good

I bought the 7" version from Staples when it was on offer for 59.99, and I'm surprised how well it works. I thought the 1GB would mean it was hamstrung, but it really does do a huge amount for the money and, at the end of the day, it's a full PC. Plug in a USB hub, put a monitor on the HDMI out, add a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and you've got a full pc that works well. Unplug it and you've got a tablet which works pretty well, too. Genuinely surprised.

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Sound and battery: 20 portable Bluetooth speakers

Nick L

Nice... but how about a summary?

Would have been nice to have some sort of chart showing capabilities, etc, and perhaps a score for sound, or value, or something? As it is, it's interesting but I forget after 10 pages which was which...

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