* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

3775 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

LOL EPA OIG NDA WTF: Eco-watchdog's auditors barred from seeing own agency's cloud security report by gagging order

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Facepalm

Classic Catch 22 situation

One Heller with a side order of Kafka, please

Our amazing industry-leading AI was too dumb to detect the New Zealand massacre live vid, Facebook shrugs

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Mushroom

How do they intend to get more data to train their "AI"

What they are really saying is that they need MANY more videos of white supremacist massacres shot from the point of view of the killer to train their "AI" (artificial idiot?) to detect them. Well isn't that just dandy. Any volunteers to be the victims?

</sarcasm>

Welcome. You're now in a timeline in which US presidential hopeful Beto was a member of a legendary hacker crew

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Happy

Re: Nice

I think it was in "Thief of Time" that Lu Tse comments that wisdom and age don't always go together, some people just become stupid with more authority

UK code breakers drop Bombe, Enigma and Typex simulators onto the web for all to try

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

Interesting

I touch upon cryptography in my course "Introduction to Computing Science", and might well put up links to this code for students to have a play around with it.

Donning my tinfoil hat: this might be a decoy, without any back doors, to lead people on a wild goose chase through the code on GitHub, while the REAL back doors are quietly inserted through other means.

Science says death metal fans delightful and intelligent people, great at dinner parties

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

Re: Free Thinkers

Happily, uth Igorth will alwayth be ready to athitht, thpethially when there are thome good thunderthtorms around

How many Reg columnists does it take to turn off a lightbulb?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Coffee/keyboard

Very accurate!!

Interesting project though it was, it was let down somewhat by being slower at text entry than making punched cards with a nail gun.

I once saw somebody working (or at least trying to) work with that CorelDraw Java monstrosity, and that warned me to steer very clear. Earlier CorelDraw stuff (I still have the installation CD-ROMs of one version somewhere) was pretty good. Later it all went to bits.

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
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Re: DIY & Fingerprints

Brilliant song, isn't it. I love singing it on my bike on my way to work (that and "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park") to general confusion of other biking commuters.

Biker sues Google Fiber: I broke my leg, borked my ankle in trench dug to lay ad giant's pipe

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Happy

Re: Micro trenches

May I suggest a bridge? There's one going in Brooklyn, I hear

Remember the OpenAI text spewer that was too dangerous to release? Fear not, boffins have built a BS detector for it

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Coat

A simpler solution

Auto-ranters are labour-saving devices, that can spew conspiracy theories and other fake news without us humans having to do this tedious work. Sifting through and fact-checking all this stuff is of course tedious too, and is well beyond current AI. We should therefore just believe all of it, or rather develop electronic monks, who will believe this kind of shit for us, so we don't have to do it ourselves.

Doffs hat to the late, great Douglas Adams.

Mine is the one with "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" in the pocket

Champagne corks undocked as SpaceX brings the Crew Dragon back to Earth

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Pint

Great stuff!

I'll raise a glass (or two) to all people involved in this success

You've been dying to know. Here's the answer: The Milky Way tips the cosmic scales at '1.5tr' times mass of the Sun

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: I can't be the only one...

Absolutely

Sure, we've got a problem but we don't really want to spend any money on the tech guy you're sending to fix it

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

We have to book our flight with one particular travel agency, in the name of saving money, and always end up spending more than if I just booked through any of the sites like budgetair or cheaptickets. Our brilliant travel agent has its own search engine, which invariable doesn't have the flight you want, or alternatively does list it, but booking it invariably borks the website. The usual procedure is to look up the best/cheapest flight on budgetair (which is generally pretty fast), then log into our corporate portal to the travel agent's search engine, and find out they don't have the flight you want available, or if they do have it available, and you fill in all your details, and press "book flight", it sits there for a while and then states that something is wrong with my credit card. The latter cannot be the case as it is the university's credit card, so it is their own internal system that has gone TITSUP yet again. In either case the official procedure is to phone the travel agent, explain once more in detail which flight you want (once you have navigated their menu system and waited for somebody to respond), and then get charged 30 euro per flight for your pains. There is clearly no incentive for the travel agent to get their web system in working order, as they earn more whenever it fails.

The procedure for me to book a flight, which used to take me less than 15 minutes as a rule, now typically takes the better part of an afternoon, and a considerable increase in my blood pressure. The last time I was so fed up that I couldn't get the 118 euro direct flight, which couldn't be found on the travel agent's site, I opted for an indirect flight which cost 469 euro, but at least got me to the location at the time I wanted. Some savings. So now, whenever possible, I go by train, which I can just book myself, and has the plus that I do not have to go through the usual security theatre at airports

Nice 'AI solution' you've bought yourself there. Not deploying it direct to users, right? Here's why maybe you shouldn't

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

Re: Where do you draw the line?

In which case the correct response would be to output

++++ Out of cheese error ++++

++++ Reinstall universe ++++

++++ Redo from start ++++

So Windrush happened, and yet UK Home Office immigration data still has 'appalling defects'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

Re: Not quite right..

Posts like this show that the key flaw is not in the actual (undoubtedly crap) software solution at the Home office, it is in the mindsets of those working there.

Google finally touts $150 pint-sized Linux dev board with Edge TPU AI math copro brains

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

Re: Another idea

I have had one online booking system make a booking at a restaurant (with e-mail confirmation and all), and when we turned up it turned out the business had closed down two months before. Happily, another restaurant right next door did have a table available (and I knew it to be excellent). Since then I prefer phoning myself, rather than using the booking system.

From hard drive to over-heard drive: Boffins convert spinning rust into eavesdropping mic

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Coat

They have been listening all this time!!!!

Maybe this explains the phenomenon that computer demos that screw up can suddenly and inexplicably start behaving once you threaten them with violence.

I'll get me tinfoil hat and cloak

Silent Merc, holy e-car... Mflllwhmmmp! What is that terrible sound?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Happy

Re: Ringtones for cars

The Imperial March would turn some heads. Fits in the Tie fighter as well

Two in five 'AI startups' essentially have no AI, mega-survey of nearly 3,000 upstarts finds

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
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So how many of the firms showed any sign of the natural variant of intelligence?

People would like to know

Canada has lunar dreams as Germany worries about what lies beneath

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
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Actually

Rather than a drunk trying to say Brexit, Beresheet sounds more like the result of ursine activity in the woods

Real life sci-fi: Massive exoplanet booted out of home by binary parents – then slipped back inside by passing friendly stars

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
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Could have been worse

The planet could have been knocked into a black hole in an intergalactic game of billiards

I'll get me coat. Doffs hat to the late, great Douglas Adams

Official science: Massive asteroids are so difficult to destroy, Bruce Willis wouldn't stand a chance

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Mushroom

I would have thought that the bigger the rock, the harder it would be to shatter into completely harmless debris anyway. If the rock is big, the chances of seriously large chunks capable of seriously spoiling plans for the weekend would be higher than with smaller stuff, quite apart from the gravitational re-accumulation. Nudging a rock out of a dangerous orbit always seemed the more sensible, if not necessarily easy, option than going in with all guns blazing (which is the default Hollywood option for any problem, it seems).

Icon, well, because an H-bomb will seem like a damp squib compared to a major asteroid strike.

USB4: Based on Thunderbolt 3. Two times the data rate, at 40Gbps. One fewer space. Zero confusing versions

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

Re: Use Case?

I have an ASI178MM planetary camera with 6 Mpixel, 12 bits/pixel grey scale running 60 FPS uncompressed and pumping the data to a Samsung T5 500 GB extern SSD at 400-450 MB/s, grabbing some 250 GB of lunar data in under 20 minutes. I would love to have the ASI183MM (20-odd Mpixel) running at the same frame rate. I would capture more quickly, and need far fewer panes for full-resolution lunar mosaics. Perhaps a niche, but there must be more use cases

Don't mean to alarm you, but Boeing has built an unmanned fighter jet called 'Loyal Wingman'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Happy

Re: Loyal?

Could be worse. If they had called it Grand Vizier you would be absolutely sure its GPP would be that of a scheming, homicidal maniac

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Coat

Re: So are we starting a pool?

Or Halma! Anybody fancy a nice game of Halma!?

I'll be going. The one with the HHGTTG radio play cassette tapes in the pocket

Why are there never free power sockets when my Y-fronts need charging?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Coat

Re: Clothing generated electricity

It thaddenth me to thee all that electricthity going to wathte, doesn't it couthin Igor?

I will get me coat. The lab coat with Carpe Jugulum in the pocket pleathe!

Qbot malware's back, and latest strain relies on Visual Basic script to slip into target machines

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

Re: One day...

The problem isn't necessarily a scripting language inside a word processor or spreadsheet. After all, LaTeX allows all sorts of scripting (made very easy with the ifthen package), and I am not aware of any security issues with that. The problem is allowing scripts like this to do anything not related to the document itself. That is a security nightmare.

Spooky! Solar System's Planet NINE could be discovered in the next NINE years (plus one to six), say astroboffins

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Happy

Re: Future name?

"Nemesis" is still free, I gather. Seems to tick many boxes, but somehow I think someone will object

It was the best of times, it was the WFIRST of times: How NASA's next exoplanet hunter could find 1,000+ worlds

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Coat

Re: Never mind mapping...

A B-Ark might indeed solve the problem, and adding shitgibbons of all colours does seem a good course of action, but don't send all the telephone sanitisers, history (or at least the HHGTTG) tells us

Doffs hat to the late, great Douglas Adams once more

Fan boy 3: Huawei overhauls Air-a-like MateBooks

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

Well, I might give it a closer look

A compact machine with good resolution screen, nVidia graphics (if basic, but at least I can run CUDA stuff), and a non 16:9 aspect ratio screen ticks a lot of boxes. If it runs Linux, so much the better

In a galaxy far, far away, aliens may have eight-letter DNA – like the kind NASA-backed boffins just crafted

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
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So ...

they are still not looking for super-intelligent shades of the colour blue?

Doffs hat (grey Tilley once more) to the late, great Douglas Adams.

Japan's Hayabusa 2 probe has got the horn for space rock Ryugu – a sampling horn, that is

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Pint

Great stuff by JAXA!!

Mine's a pint of Sapporo Yebisu Black

Roses are red, this is sublime: We fed OpenAI's latest chat bot a classic Reg headline

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

Re: So, hang on

I think speech writers for many politicians might be very, very afraid of this development

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Happy

Re: We fed OpenAI's latest chat bot a classic Reg headline

I really, really wonder what would happen if you fed it Lewis Caroll's Jabberwocky.

Opportunity's mission is over, but InSight almost ready for a driller thriller below Martian surface

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
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Great stuff!

Looking forward to the results. Great international collaboration too.

The Lance Arm-strong of performance-enhanced CPUs: Armv8.1-M arch jams vector math into super-microcontrollers

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
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With Helium added

will these devices get a silly voice?

Sorry, sorry, couldn't resist. I'd best be going.

A once-in-a-lifetime Opportunity: NASA bids emotional farewell to its cocky, hardworking RC science car on Mars

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Pint

Re: Opportunity---NNNNOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

I remember years back when walking to the car with the kids (they must have been 5 and 6 at the time), and pointing at the bright red dot in the sky, telling them that that was planet Mars, and two little robotic cars built on earth were driving around there (Spirit was still up and running). They were astounded at the idea, and back home I had to show them pictures from Mars, and explain about rockets and robotics. Inspirational stuff from NASA once more!

I will raise a glass to the success of Opportunity, and all folks at NASA and elsewhere who contributed

From Red Planet to deep into the red: Suicidal extrovert magnet Mars One finally implodes

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

Re: re: and we stopped it?

We could still send all of middle management on the Ark.

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Happy

Or perhaps: "It's Death, Jim, but not as we know it"

"INTERESTING RED PLANET YOU HAVE HERE, REMINDS ME OF FOURECKS ON MY MORE USUAL BEAT, BUT IT'S EVEN MORE DEADLY, DESPITE THE LACK OF SPIDERS"

Holy planetesimal formation, Batman! Ultima Thule's no snowman – it's a friggin' pancake

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Coat

Planetessimal Pancakes

Sounds tasty. Feeling hungry now

Boffin suggests Trappist monk approach for Spectre-Meltdown-grade processor flaws, other security holes: Don't say anything public – zip it

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

Re: So? Responsible Disclosure?

Waiting until exploits are out there would also be hampered if we do not know what exploits to look for. Of course it makes sense to alert the manufacturer of the vulnerable hardware or software before going public, and there is a case for waiting some time before going public, but only telling the general public about serious threats LONG after discovery is simply not on.

Using WhatsApp for your business comms? It's either that or reinstall Lotus Notes

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Happy

... an Airbus A380 coming in to land.

Brilliant!!

I do however often feel that an incoming Airbus would be more easily avoided than that shit load of students cycling three abreast along the narrow bicycle path on the wrong side of the road as I cycle to work in the morning. The poor dears apparently find it too much of an effort to make a detour of AT LEAST TEN WHOLE METRES (shock horror) to cycle to their lecture halls on the right side of the road so as not to inconvenience other people.

</rant>

Boffins debunk study claiming certain languages (cough, C, PHP, JS...) lead to more buggy code than others

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

Interesting, but ...

There are many complicating factors, many of which have been noted already. A point I haven't seen yet is the issue that maybe more of the code written in "old school" languages was written by older, more experienced coders, whereas the newer languages which might have better design of themselves are more likely to have been used by less experienced coder. Not sure if this can readily be tested, or whether it has an effect.

There is also the issue that compares to owners of safer cars tending to drive less safely, because they feel safe in their car. Likewise, I know that when I needed to program in assembly, way back when, I was FAR more careful about what I was doing, and checking and double checking my reasoning before even starting to write. Indeed, I was careful to limit the usage of assembly to an absolute minimum, to handle some hardware issues. Of course I managed to crash my machine a number of times (in the "good old" days of MS-DOS) a couple of times when testing the code, but the production code I delivered generally didn't cause any issues. "Back in the safety" of Pascal (the compiler won't let you shoot yourself in the foot), I relied much more on the compiler or run-time system giving me sensible error messages ("integer array index out of bounds" is SO much more useful than "segmentation fault"), than with either assembly or C. So maybe people writing code in "safe" languages don't pay as much attention to any remaining pitfalls as those who know they are walking in a minefield. I am not sure this is the case, but it might be worth considering.

Furthermore, quite apart from how difficult it is to fix things in brittle code, there is the issue of actually finding errors in poorly-written code, or hard to read languages. So number_of_bugs_FOUND != number_of_bugs_in_code.

Finally, I have had to write bug fixes that weren't fixes for bugs in MY code, but workarounds for problems either with a compiler or a run-time library that wasn't open source. I once was working on MS-Pascal code in which I knew the linked lists used had an even number of nodes. Therefore, if the "next" pointer in a node wasn't NIL, I could safely jump two nodes on, which in Pascal would read:

current := current^.next^.next;

which caused the program to crash. I replaced the above with:

current := current^.next;

current := current^.next;

so again, two jumps without NIL pointer test in between. This worked flawlessly. Clearly, the compiler couldn't handle the double indirection in the first version. I tried both versions on a different Pascal compiler, and both worked flawlessly. Again number_of_bug_FIXES != number_of_bugs

Japanese astronomers find tiniest Kuiper Belt object yet – using cheap 'scopes and off-the-shelf CMOS cameras

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Thumb Up

Outstanding work!

It is just great to see what amateurs can contribute to astronomy. Well done to the OASES team

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

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Coat

Re: at present we don't know the rover's status

Alternatively, it wants to let us know it is feeling very depressed

I'd better get my coat

We did Nazi see this coming... Internet will welcome Earth's newest nation with, sigh, a brand new .SS TLD

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

Strictly speaking, the UK stands for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (at least, that is what my passport says, so .uk actually refers to a wider area than .gb. Adopting .gb would probably give the DUP a fit

Everyday doings of a metropolitan techie: Stob's software diary

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Happy

Re: Not from the Midlands...

Here in Groningen in the North of the Netherlands, the highest praise you might get is "Het kon minder", which translates to "It could be worse"

Different language, same idea

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

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Coat

Re: A clue?

Better still: "Migration is in our DNA"

Unlike coconuts.

Unless they could be carried by swallows, of course

I'll get me coat

It’s baaack – Microsoft starts pushing out the Windows 10 October 2018 Update

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
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Share and Enjoy!

Oh, joy!! We “will have the best update experience based on our next generation machine learning model.

isn't this just management speak for "we have given the computer a list of people who screamed blue murder loudest last time round, so please install updates in increasing order of dB plus number of obscenities used."

Alternatively, it might mean "go stick your head in a pig"

I'll be going. The one with the HHGTTG radio play cassette tapes in the pocket

I used to be a dull John Doe. Thanks to Huawei, I'm now James Bond!

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
Coat

Nice one!

I have recently found I too am a Chinese spy, with my Wha-Hey P9, named Kyrilo Sidorovitch Razumov.

I'll be going. The one with Conrad's "Under Western Eyes" in the pocket, please

RIP 2019-2019: The first plant to grow on the Moon? Yeah, it's dead already, Chinese admit

Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

Maybe they should have used sphagnum moss or lichens and tardigrades instead. The latter survive being frozen in liquid helium without ill effect, and the former survive Arctic winters

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