* Posts by JimC

1473 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

Shock: Brit capital strips Uber of its taxi licence

JimC
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It does occur to me that the petition signers have got the wrong target. If they feel its unfair that Uber have to comply with all the regulations they find so irksome then there should be a campaign to have all those regulations rescinded. Then Uber could keep their licence and all Uber's competitors would be able to operate more cheaply too and everyone would benefit. (Well apart from the people those regulations were intended to protect, but who cares about them?)

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Don’t fear the software shopkeeper: T&Cs banning bad reviews aren’t legal in America

JimC
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I'm kinda torn, because there's also the well known "Give me a discount or I'll post a negative review on xxx" blackmail, and there ought to be some kind of reasonable defence against that.

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Sysadmin tells user CSI-style password guessing never w– wait WTF?! It's 'PASSWORD1'!

JimC
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Re: something from his past that wasn't common knowledge

When desperate I used to suggest "OK, look out of the window, what can you see".

I don't *think* anyone ever typed in "RedFordFocus"...

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JimC
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There was a time when I had to rush down to the local Police HQ every now and then to help out with problems with the folks who did the overtime payments. I sort of wanted to get stopped on route but it never happened:

Cop: What's the hurry

Me: problem with the overtime payments at **** ****

at this point I imagined a high speed escort!

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UK Prime Minister calls on internet big beasts to 'auto-takedown' terror pages within 2 HOURS

JimC
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Re: ridiculous demands

I think the prime minister would counter that the Internet firms have a huge history of crying wolf and claiming that things are impossible until they see a business advantage or are forced, at which point it suddenly becomes possible after all.

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Bloke fesses up: I forged judge's signature to strip stuff from Google search

JimC
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Re: Recipients could then trivially check for authenticity.

But if banks and signatures on cheques is any guide at all, most wouldn't bother...

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New HMRC IT boss to 'recuse' herself over Microsoft decisions

JimC
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Re: All nukes are ground-zero nukes when they detonate.

*Where* they detonate surely?

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Monkey selfie case settles for a quarter of future royalties

JimC
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Re: Now, is this not effectively finding it guilty ... punishment.

I submit not.

More like a combination of selective breeding and removing a specific dangerous individual. Punishment also has an element of deterrence which does not apply.

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User demanded PC be moved to move to a sunny desk – because it needed Windows

JimC
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Re: seem to be breeding a special kind of 'dumb'

Unfortunately the dumb is on the design side. The industry needs to design for people as they are, not as they'd like them to be, and it needs to design for a larger chunk of the bell curve. What was acceptable when IT users were a selected and trained cadre doesn't cut the mustard for a universal utility.

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Facebook claims a third more users in the US than people who exist

JimC
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Re: insular prejudices

forums.theregister.co.UK

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Retail serfs to vanish, all thanks to automation

JimC
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Re: Spanner in the works?

I for one refuse to use self service tills for exactly that reason.

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JimC
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Re: time to Tax the Robots

Seems no especial reason why a robot shouldn't pay the tax and national insurance contributions of the worker it replaces.

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Bitcoin Foundation wants US Department of Justice investigated

JimC
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Re: Because the law doesn't yet recognise it as a legal form of tender?

Does the US recognise any currency other than the dollar as legal tender?

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Terry Pratchett's unfinished works flattened by steamroller

JimC
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> If anyone wants to do an academic study of his work

He's on record as despising the academic study thing, and as ensuring that all works in progress were destroyed once the final edit was complete.

He had a point I think, there are a good number of authors (CS Lewis, Isaac Asimov for two) on record as stating that all the analyses of their work that they had seen were utterly wide of the mark. So its unlikely post mortem ones were any better. I particularly liked Asimov's comment to one story which includes a distinctly Freudian image on the lines that he could imagine future critics getting very excited about the hidden subtext of this, but actually he'd done it quite deliberately...

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JimC
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I wonder

You can quite understand the author not wanting some half arsed slung together lash up of his old work, but on the other hand it would be nice have a little bit more. To my mind though the last book shows distinct signs of having needed another revision by the master's hand, so would I really truly want to have things that were even less complete against his name?

[well if I'm truly honest, I suppose the answer is that I don't think they should be published or made public, but *I* would like a copy]

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So thoughtful. Uber says it won't track you after you leave their vehicles

JimC
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Re:Like empathy and "doing good" are bad things.

Well they are if they are counter productive. If the ends can't justify the means, for sure the means can't justify the ends. If I am empathetic about the fears and frights of children being forced to have needles and drugs stuck in them, and ban vaccination, a conspiracy of the evil pharmaceutical companies, am I doing a good thing?

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JimC
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Re: Uber shill... ...and an uber-troll.

I dunno, isn't one of the lessons of the Internet that there is no moral or philosophical position, no matter how dumb, illogical or plain ridiculous, that you cannot find someone to aggressively espouse? Still, must admit, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck...

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Boffin rediscovers 1960s attempt to write fiction with computers

JimC
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Re: Didn't some one wiser than me,,,,

Kinda the point of his "all the stories were boring". In general I think its not so much the plot as the writing around it that makes the thing work.

Although I can think of one author who I've given up reading because every book seemed to have so similar a plot it was getting to me. I shan't name, because if other people haven't found it irritating, but might if it were pointed out, then I'd be guilty of taking away their enjoyment .

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Trump-hating Iranian is the new Uber CEO

JimC
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A win by default?

Its surely not that unusual for an appointment to be made after all but one of the short list has been crossed off is it?

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China to identify commentards with real‑name policy

JimC
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Re: In the near future

Oh dear, a tad naive are we today? The real name will have to link back identifiably to your ISP account, and your ISP account will have to link back identifiably to a real person, and we'll be in a whole world of PITA bureaucracy.

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JimC
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Re: is this for real?

Oh for sure. Its pretty much inevitable. In governments eyes the harm done - and perhaps even more importantly the bad press generated - by the misuse of anonymity is obvious and widespread. The genuine social benefits are on a far smaller scale and in any case are greatest for those living under repressive regimes, who themselves are the list likely to tolerate anonymity. Thus sooner or later the desire to readily identify (mis)users of the net will vastly outweigh any pushback from the privacy campaigners, who are readily labelled as "political weirdos who want to protect paedophiles and trollers".

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WannaCrypt NHS victim Lanarkshire infected by malware again

JimC
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Re What exactly do people go to emergency departments for if not emergencies ?

Its because they can't get to see doctors at primary care. In the Brit NHS access to primary care / GPs is basically rationed by bureaucracy. In order to see a doctor you have to jump through complicated administrative processes that typically require the patient to be intelligent, well enough to be able to handle the processes and have plenty of spare time.

The reason for this, of course is that Brit health care is free at point of delivery and theoretically unrationed, so the demand is almost unlimited. Supply, on the other hand, is very limited. Any kind of overt rationing is politically unacceptable*. The result is rationing by bureaucracy, since no-one can think of anything better.

Not that anyone has chosen rationing by bureaucracy, its just all that anyone can think of to control the demand. The alternative might be doctors booked up for months ahead, which is equally ridiculous.

*Its politically unacceptable, because Labour (=vaguely left) governments have a big soundbite of 'the evil tories are trying to destroy your NHS', so daren't be seen introducing demand management themselves, whilst Conservative (Tory=vaguely right) governments are desperately trying to avoid looking like evil tories destroying the NHS, so won't do anything either.

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Vodafone won't pay employee expenses for cups of coffee

JimC
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A bit funny

There are some funny anomalies about this stuff. I wonder how much dates back to the days when there was a formal 1 hour break for lunch, and most people lived within walking/bicycle distance and could return home for lunch.

I guess if you join a company and are told "This company pays no allowances for meals to anyone - we consider that the salary is adequate to include this" that would be fair enough. If, on the other hand, something like that is imposed, without an increase in salary to match the loss of allowance and, as is so often the case, with directors and senior executives being exceptions, that's quite another matter.

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Linux-loving lecturer 'lost' email, was actually confused by Outlook

JimC
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Re: The diplomatic answer

Exactly right.

And besides, users who don't understand the software are on the whole greatly to be preferred over the ones who *know everything* about it.

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JimC
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Re:"shouldn't change things"

Damn right we (as an industry) shouldn't change things. Imagine if every time you bought a new car the pedals were in a different order, and after you'd hit the brake instead of the accellerator you were told you should have practised more before going out on the road. With CUA we had a reasonable standard interface that was becoming widely understood, and changing with ribbons and things was a damn stupid idea.

And in many ways a car is a good example, because basically the user interface isn't very good and it would be quite possible to improve it, but...

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New MH370 analysis again suggests plane came down outside search area

JimC
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Re: Mayday

Almost anything *could* be done. But if a) Wkipedia is correct and b) I skimmed the list right only one other largish civil transport with a passenger load has gone missing in the last 40 years (PIA 404). So that's an awful lot of hardware to buy, maintain and keep 100% serviceable for a very unusual event. And in any case there will doubtless be more telemetry in future which will provide much the same information.

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Creepy backdoor found in NetSarang server management software

JimC
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> a somewhat ambiguous statement

> not rule out the vendor as the creator

If you haven't yet definitively identified the source it is foolish to rule out the possibility that it originated in house. An employee who has been suborned, even one who has been blackmailed - 'here's a picture of your pretty daughter on her way to school. Here's a picture of one of the pretty girls our partner organisation 'makes use of'. You do want to include this code in the next revision don't you?".

It does, of course, militate against current PR 'best' practice not to assume the least unfavourable light until you know for sure exactly what happened, but its not a bad thing.

There's also the small point that if you are actively tracking down the bad guys, it may be a mistake to let them know how close you are getting in case they run before law enforcement catches them.

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RBS sharpens axe again: 900 IT jobs to go by 2020

JimC
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> You can't cut your way to growth.

But you can, as has been well pointed out above, cut your way to executive bonuses.

We seem to be in a sort of post capitalist era where the power is not with those who have the capital, but with the executives who administer it Does not look good for long term business health, but looks very good for letting the executives get very very rich at the expense of everyone else. Company growing - have a bonus. Company contracting under cost cutting - have a bonus. Company "dealng well with difficult trade conditions" - have a bonus.

Capitalism had the crude balance that if the company went under so did your capital. Executivism appears at the moment to have no checks or balances at all.

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Oh, boy! Uber investors behind CEO sueball say Travis Kalanick won't let the company grow up

JimC
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Re: So, let me count the ways . .

And don't forget the baby boomers spent their lives paying the state pensions of the previous generation who hadn't been paying national insurance all their lives.

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Firmware update blunder bricks hundreds of home 'smart' locks

JimC
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Well, by Inrenet company standards of service

Its not to bad, but lets face it, that's not a high bar, is it. ISPs,pone companies, software companies, none of them are exemplars of great service when things go pear shaped are they?

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Your top five dreadful people the Google manifesto has pulled out of the woodwork

JimC
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Re: Average differences between groups

> if the manager under you is employing people

> based on the wrong merits ... get rid of the bad apple.

The challenge, of course is to understand what the merits are. Goodness knows there are no shortage of people claiming that only men can do a given job when its not true. Speaking as someone who has a bit of a history of picking candidates who don't turn out to be nearly as good as I thought they sounded at the interview, I'd love it if there were accurate and scientifically backed ways of picking out aptitude. Instead all we seem to get is pseudo science and other woo.

This is the problem with the note. He points out, correctly in my opinion, that there may be non-discriminatory reasons why there is not a 50/50 gender split in a given organisation or function. What he doesn't give - probably because at the moment its almost impossible - is any way of identifying how much of a given unequal gender split is discrimination and how much is aptitude or career choice. And that's something important to know, because discrimination on non rational grounds is damaging by reducing the pool of talented individuals - and that is true just as much of positive discrimination as negative.

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JimC
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Re: Average differences between groups

> You can't have it both ways: you can't say

>'treat people on their merit'

> while also writing them off

> because "on average" they suck at certain tasks.

Agreed. But there is no writing off going on in the note. This is the point you have utterly missed.

Look, men are, on average, taller than women. Agreed? But the tallest woman who ever lived was just over 8ft tall, taller than some huge number of 9s of men.

Now lets supposing I need as many people as possible over 6ft tall for some reason. If I am foolish I only look at men for the job because I know that on average men are taller. But if I am sensible I look at everyone, because I know that some women will be over 6ft tall, and a 6ft tall woman is exactly the same height as a 6ft tall man. And because I understand how averages work I also know that there is a chance that the tallest person available will be a woman. But if I would be a consummate idiot if I labelled people under 6ft tall as inferior.

And of course this is easily reversed: if I need as many people as possible under 5ft tall then the exact opposite will apply. Its notorious, for example, that electronic assembly lines tend to employ women because people with smaller hands are better at the job. Does this make men with large hands inferior? Of course it doesn't. It just means they have a different aptitude. Next to tha factory in the warehouse stacking boxes there are more men with strong arms. If the factory is employing 70% women on the assembly line, and 70% men in the warehouse and decides that's sexist they could swap jobs around so that there are 50% men and women in each role. And then what happens?

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JimC
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> many, if not most, of the psychological differences

> In fact, there is considerable evidence to support the idea that many, if not most, of the psychological

> differences between men and women are due to environment (socialization, external biases and

> restraints) rather than biology.

There's no need to dispute the accuracy or otherwise of that statement. One only needs to note that if one is hiring someone to fulfil a role it matters not one jot whether their psychological strengths and weaknesses for the role in question are genetic or environmental.

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JimC
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Re: disparaged 20% of the workforce as biologically inferior

Where did he do that? He did not. This is very muddled thinking.

Every individual is good at different things. Yes, there's a belief in some quarters that every individual is really exactly equal in every capability, but that's nonsense.

I am not disparaging Albert Einstein as inferior if I said he was a brilliant physicist but a mediocre violin player, or disparaging Yehudi Menuhin if I say he was a brilliant violin player but a mediocre physicist.

But if I am employing physicists I want brilliant physicists, and I don't give a damn about their violin playing.

Lets say that people with gene 123alpha6 are more likely to be good at physics than people without it, and people without gene 123alpha6 are more likely to be good violin players than those with it. And lets say that I want to employ people from the top 10% of the population as regards competence at physics. That top 10% of the population will have more people with gene 123alpha6 than the population at large, so if I employ a random selection of the worlds top 10% physicists gene 123alpha6 will be over represented. Does that mean that the ones who don't have gene 123alpha6 are somehow inferior? No, it does not. They are still in the top 10% of the worlds physicists, they are not inferior at all, and its quite possible that the best physicist in the world won't have gene 123alpha6. And incidentally the presence or absence of gene 123alpha6 is actually no use when recruiting physicists. If I were only to recruit people with gene 123alpha6 then I would be automatically excluding a lot of the worlds best physicists from consideration, and end up hiring people who weren't such good physicists even though they did have that gene.

What you are doing, effectively, is claiming that this guy was saying that physicists without gene 123alpha6 are biologically inferior. But he was not saying that at all. And even worse you are making a value judgement that violin players are inferior to physicists, which is appalling. Someone who is good at a one specific job isn't biologically superior to someone who is good at a different job. If you say they are that's pretty appalling too.

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JimC
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There's a lot of misunderstanding about all this

If statistical analysis demonstrates that people with gene 123plusalpha are 10% more likely to be great coders than the average member of the population then that tells you absolutely nothing useful about whether you should hire Alan who has gene 123plusalpha, or Bill who has not. But it does tell you that if gene 123plusalpha is more prevalent amongst your coders then your hiring policy is effective.

It also doesn't mean that your best coders will have gene 123plusalpha. Statistics tell you nothing about that either. So a company that operated a completely effective hiring policy would have no need to find out whether an individual has that gene before they hire them, because it tells them nothing useful about that individual. However if they did an analysis they would expect to find that gene over represented in their coding staff, and that would be the result of competent hiring, not discrimination.

This is the crucial mistake that people make time after time. Statistical trends are not applicable to individuals, and a company would be enormously foolish to hire and fire on them. But they can cast light on how well your hiring and firing is functioning.

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Hacked Chrome web dev plugin maker: How those phishers tricked me

JimC
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Re: 2017, and email clients still allow hyperlinks ?

Integrating html and email was never a good idea from a security point of view.

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JimC
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Alert

There's a big lesson in this

And it is that it doesn't matter who you are or how much you know, its still painfully easy to get caught out by the criminals because we have built an infrastructure that's fundamentally insecure.

And this is why everyone who bleats about end users being the problem because they won't adopt super unique passwords, or whatever other precautions is themselves part of the problem. We have to get to an IT infrastructure where its easier to do it the right secure way than it is to do things the wrong way. The trouble is a lot of sacred cows will have to go by the wayside for that to happen.

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Sorry, psycho bosses, it's not OK to keylog your employees

JimC
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Re: simply used this as an excuse to get rid of him

I wasn't defending the practice, simply pointing it out.

I've seen it happen in a large organisation amongst the executives elbowing their way up the greasy pole. New big boss wants to get his own people in and is also keen to reduce costs, so is looking for anything that will serve to clear some space in the org chart without the expense of paying people off or moving them sideways into non-jobs. A nice allegation of bullying, sexual harassment or something will serve to put someone on ice and sideline them relatively cheaply, and with any luck they'll find a new job and move on by the time the endless tribunals and procedures have gone through...

After all the victim will want to keep the whole thing quiet just as much as the victimiser, because they don't want to get labelled by the 'no smoke without fire' brigade, especially if the allegation is somewhere in the currently fashionable array of offences that weren't considered offences when they happened...

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JimC
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Re: But if it's been obtained illegally, it may not in fact be evidence

Aren't you conflating two separate, if related issues there? It is of course vitally important to establish the accuracy of evidence, but there seems no especial reason why legally gathered must always be truthful and reliable, and illegally gathered evidence automatically unreliable or misleading.

I'm quite sure that a depressing number of trials end up with the wrong verdict even if every scrap of evidence has been gathered in strict obedience to the rules. It may be that prosecutions who break the rules of gathering evidence are also more liable to fabricate evidence, but association isn't causation.

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JimC
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Re: Fruit of the poisoned tree

Which is fine if the prime purpose of the legal system is an expensive competition between lawyers - which admittedly is one description of at least your civil law system over that side of the pond.

But if the point of the legal system is to accurately determine who is guilty and who isn't, then discarding evidence seems to be somewhat counter-intuitive.

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JimC
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Re: So he'd been a good employee

I think the smart money is that he *wasn't* regarded as a good employee for one reason or another, and they were quite happy to find what looked like good cause to give him the elbow.

Isn't it rather naive to assume that the legal justification for dismissing someone (or not quite legal in this case) is likely to be the actual reason they want someone out of the door? I can think of two or three cases in a place where I used to work where allegations of some sort of misconduct were blatantly really a way to try and get rid of someone whose face no longer fitted.

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The Telegraph has killed Prince Philip

JimC
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Otherwise known as a Swarbricking...

(nm)

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'Real' people want govts to spy on them, argues UK Home Secretary

JimC
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Just as a matter of interest

Do any of you encrypt your snail mail?

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Pre-order your early-bird pre-sale product today! (Oh did we mention the shipping date has slipped AGAIN?)

JimC
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Nothing very new...

I remember back at the end of 79 or so Yamaha announced a pair of new bikes - watercooled versions of their well established air cooled 250 and 350/400 2 stroke twins. Unusually they took deposits... We all expected these bikes to be pretty special, but not that radical since they'd been making watercooled 250 and 350 racers for some years which were based on the street bike crankcases.

But we waited and waited. I forget how long it was, but 18 months somehow sticks in my mind. We were thinking at the time that they hadn't actually developed the bikes before announcing them - very unusual at the time. Still, they were super machines when they finally arrived, and a much bigger redesign than we were expecting.

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After we ran our article about the fate of .sk, the nation of Slovakia flew into a rage. And now, here's part two...

JimC
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Re: "benefitting from something that you argue for ..."

And when both sides are using lies, smear tactics and outright fabrications?

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Sysadmin jeered in staff cafeteria as he climbed ladder to fix PC

JimC
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Re: So ...

He says Windows for Workgroups days, which means that the potential for unauthorised access into corporate networks was rather less than it is now. In the days when corporate networks were not connected to the internet at all open shares were less of an immediate concern. If I recall correctly in those days my employer's only connection to the net was email.

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Fan of FBI cosplay? Enjoy freaking out your neighbors? Have we got the eBay auction for you

JimC
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Re: that sounds like it might be evidence

Well, not if they are unused tapes and notebooks.

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Stop all news – it's time for us plebs to be told about BBC paycheques!

JimC
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Re: Crapita and 70% women

The statistic is certainly valueless. Not only do you need to compare it to number of license (un) holders of each sex, but it also needs to be corrected against other factors like income, alternate facilites etc. If more women are prosecuted than men because women far more likely to be on minimal income, then that's certainly a problem, but not down to Capita or the BBC (unless of course we are talking about women who are working for contractors working for the BBC, and who are on mininum wage and minimum hours because all the money is going to Chris Evans et al)

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UK.gov watchdog didn't red flag any IT projects. And that alone should be a red flag to everyone

JimC
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Re: Marking a project as "red" is a Career Limiting Move.

This sentence alone deserves an awful lot of upvotes.

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