* Posts by Pete 2

2582 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

In the week Uber blew up, Netflix restates 'No brilliant jerks' policy

Pete 2

Re: I'd consider paying for Netflix but

> I have a bigger collection of DVDs than it has films available to watch

It's not the number that matters (OK, it is to some extent) but the quality. Many years ago we took out a subscription to an online video service. They advertised the thousands of films they had available as being a major draw. It probably was if you were willing to waste your life on the sort of dross that is available from Sky Movies. However, going through a significant proportion of the list we discovered that only 4% of their films sparked any interest at all.

Given that a person will only accumulate DVDs they like, or choose, I'd want any online service today to offer at least 25 times as many movies as we have DVDs. And that would only get them to parity. The sad thing is that there probably aren't enough (good) films made in a year to supply 1 a week that we'd actually want to spend time watching.

5
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Pete 2

developing developers development

> “that brilliant people are also capable of decent human interactions, and we insist upon that.”

I wonder if they would be willing to apply their non-jerk attitude to management and administrative roles, too?

5
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Elon Musk reveals Mars colony rocket capable of bringing pizza joints to the red planet

Pete 2

Re: Hmmmn.. pizza!

: I can just see the Dominos app trying to keep up with your nearest branch ... "place order from

> London ... Reading ... Bristol ... ... ... New York ..."

No, no, no. If Musk can sent a pizza joint (mmm, two of my favourite things) to Mars, he can dam' well put them in LEO. Have a network, like with GPS satellites and you can literally "drop ship" the pizza. With some intelligent packaging it could (probably) land in your yard. And the heat of re-entry will keep it hot, too.

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Report estimates cost of disruption to GPS in UK would be £1bn per day

Pete 2

> Looking on the bright side, a world without GPS is a world without Uber.

Not really. Uber would still have come about since traditional taxi services are so utterly crap.

The only difference is that Uber cars would get lost a lot more often. But since many Uber drivers seem to be incapable of following GPS-driven driving instructions, it would make little difference.

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Samsung releases 49-inch desktop monitor with 32:9 aspect ratio

Pete 2

code word

> Samsung's built the monitor for gamers,

Whenever I see any word that means game, gamer, gaming, I automatically assume it is like "organic" - meaning more expensive but with no discernible improvement. So a "gaming" mouse is just a mouse - but at 3 times the price. A "gamers" mouse mat is just a mouse mat, but by costing anything up to £60 (yes, really!) they are somehow better, make you more proficient, or just give you something to brag about.

The same applies to everything else that is meant for "gamers". Just like aficionados of high quality audio are targetted with oxygen-free cables and gold plated power switches and many other things that do not matter.

But relieving such people of their money is no bad thing. If buying overpriced stuff pleases them then fair enough. And for the rest of us, the words act as a warning.

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My unpopular career in writing computer reviews? It's a gift

Pete 2

Orange glove guy

It would appear you have found your USP for all future reviews. Just specialise in reviewing hand-held stuff and your fame will become legendary. Viewers will be so transfixed by the bright orange hands that they won't pay any attention to what you are reviewing (a reviewers dream, surely?) but your "brand recognition" will have marketeers falling over themselves to send you swag.

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Operators and vendors agree that Europe is falling behind in 5G

Pete 2

Is 5G the new Vista?

XP was good enough. it did most things that most people wanted, well enough.

And so with 3G and 4G. Is there really any need for more features, speed, or whatever the hell 5G is supposed to offer?

I can see that from the phone and mobile operators point of view it's a good thing. Hey it's 5! that makes it better than 4 and that is all the marketing people need to know. And it's probably all that they will sell it on, too.

2
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Now you can 'roam like at home' within the EU, but what's the catch?

Pete 2

tourists virtually touring

> while on hols rather than looking at the sights

Meh! all the sights are freely available for viewing on the internet. Maybe that is what the holidaymakers are looking at?

Or could they be scoping out next year's holiday, instead? 'tis better to travel in hope than to arrive.

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BT's Ryan Reynolds helicopter Wi-Fi ads 'misleading', thunders ad watchdog

Pete 2

Re: Max power - more spread, less security

and a signal that "goes further" just makes your wifi more susceptible to hacking.

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Hyperloop One teases idea of 50-minute London-Edinburgh ride

Pete 2

Hyperloop sucks

A hyperloop tunnel is basically just a giant vacuum cleaner. Rather than sending people on journeys, couldn't Londoners use this to send all their garbage up to Scotland?

Before the train gets sucked into the tunnel, just toss a few black bags of rubbish in, ahead of it.

The only problem might be if the Scots start sending their rubbish back down.

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Pete 2

Total travel time?

> a good proportion of the routes have no obvious high volume traffic potential

Yes, and the places that do, are already served by airlines. Given that LHR - EDI only takes 1h15m it is questionable how much people would be prepared to spend to shave half an hour off that time. Especially when it is not obvious there would be any actual saving, once travel to/from the terminal, check-in, security scans and all the other inevitable delays are factored in.

I reckon the main use of this would be for freight, not people.

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IBM: ALL travel must be approved now, and shut up about the copter

Pete 2

What did you call me?

> To get approval the delivery project executive (DPE) must get approval in writing

I wonder for how long they were called Delivery of Project Executives, before someone noticed

[ and yes, I know there is a Dilbert cartoon along very similar lines ]

2
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IBM CEO Ginni flouts £75 travel crackdown, rides Big Blue chopper

Pete 2

Re: 50 years ?

> Is that calendar years or IBM years?

Neither, it's years billed to the customer (the guy is actually only 29, but he does a hell of a lot of overtime)

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Google can't spare 113 seconds of revenue to compile data on its gender pay gap

Pete 2

The actuarial solution

And they have probably factored in the cost of the settlement AND the cost of the punitive damages and fines.

After that they calculate the lawyers fees and the odds of winning and take a gambler's decision that the chances of not having to pay (hey, we're GOOGLE, we're too big for your puny fines) are worth the risk.

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NHS Digital stopped short of advising against paying off WannaCrypt

Pete 2

Re: Survival of the fittest

> What you need is peer-review, get "good trusts/boards" to review ones not up to scratch and make real recommendations to bolster defense whilst removing aging kit and software.

Actually what I had in mind was a review board that didn't so much look at the technical aspects, but at the trusts' management competence to manage. The "severe" measures would be to decide which senior managers should be help personally responsible (for failing to keep their systems secure, for failing to abide by all the advisories, policies, warnings and instructions) and summarily dismissed for gross incompetence.

For that, a peer-review would not work as it's all a bit of a "boys club" (and girls, too). This would need outside, independent, counsel that might even decide there was scope for criminal prosecution. That would shake up the dumb fat and happy senior management. Especially if their pensions were forfeit!

Harsh? Yes! but that is nature's way.

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Pete 2

Survival of the fittest

> organisations within the NHS that were running unpatched versions of Windows XP but did not get a single infection because their machines were safe behind their network

Overall it seems that about 20% of NHS Trusts were affected by this attack. It would seem reasonable that those were the ones with the least well run IT systems. While there would be some "good" trusts in that number that were just unlucky - and some badly managed ones that lucked-through, generally poor security is a sign of bad management.

So while there will undoubtedly be platitudes and "lessons have been learned" press releases, there will just as certainly be more attacks in the future and more badly run trusts will find their systems get breached again.

The only real solution would be to have an outside body review the incidents and decide which ones were due to bad luck and which (i.e. the rest) were due to incompetence. And then to take severe action - given the number of guidelines, warnings, alerts and processes that are supposed to stop this sort of thing happening in the first place. Severe action, that recognises those incompetent trusts simply don't have a senior management: both IT and general management, that is up to the job of running their IT systems.

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Huawei Honor 8 Pro: Makes iPhone 7 Plus look a bit crap

Pete 2

Drain that battery fast!

> For the second time this year I’ve found myself trying to think of new ways to exhaust a phone, and been stumped

Simple. Just turn on the GPS.

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Man sues date for cinema texting fiasco, demands $17.31

Pete 2

A cheap mistake

They say that if you lend a "friend" £10 and they don't pay you back, you've learned a very cheap lesson. It would seem that this guy, and maybe his date too, both made a mistake - but fortunately discovered their errors before it turned costly.

Oh, and where the hell can you get a pizza for $4?

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Facebook is abusive. It's time to divorce it

Pete 2

Stale

Facebook has taught us a valuable lesson: most of the people we call "friends" are not that interesting.

We are willing to exert effort to keep in touch with the people we actually like. The ones who's company we value and who's presence we appreciate.

What FB has done is to hijack the term "friend" and load it with emotional baggage. So there are insecure people who value their own worth by the number of "friends" they have - although they have never met the vast majority of them and probably would not like them, in real life, if they did.

But for most FB users, it is just an easier way to send messages to people. FB has become the go-to method for contacting people you know, pushing email (and all the SPAM it attracts) to one side.

The downside is that FB is full of people promoting their opinions - even though nobody cares what they think. And little do they realise that since FB can silently block their posts, very few people see what they write or post, anyway.

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TVs are now tablet computers without a touchscreen

Pete 2

All I want is the screen

The display of a "TV" is the biggest and most expensive part. I want this to be the dumbest, too. I don't want it to be dependent on the whims or mistakes (or cynical marketing) of some distant third party. I don't want to have to upgrade it, or replace it, merely because someone, somewhere, flipped a bit in a protocol and made it obsolete.

I want the smarts to be in a separate box.A little £50 add-on that can be changed every couple of years if necessary, to keep up with the tech, That also helps in since it stops my costly display from containing more parts (or points of failure) than necessary. So that a badly soldered SMD that only deals with networking, or the remote control, doesn't mean having to toss the whole shebang.

With pricey kit, dumb is good.

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Give 'bots a chance: Driverless cars to be trialled between London and Oxford

Pete 2

Re: There's a great deal

> why the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority are piffling around with self driving cars.

Because Mr. Fusion told them to.

... and also because it is the best way to make other motorists keep their distance. What would you do when you see the car in front has stickers on it saying "Self-driving test vehicle" and "sponsored by the UKAEA" ?

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Can you make a warzone delivery drone? UK.gov wants to give you cash

Pete 2

Re: My exact thought

> There is no way in hell you can even sketch out the designs for anything even remotely innovative with that amount of money.

'corse you can. Give me £40,000 and I'll "draw out" my sketch for an industrial sized tee-shirt canon. One that is specially designed to deliver stuff over the last mile to the front line. And being gas powered, it's probably EMP proof, too.

Innovative enough?

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Zuckerberg's absolutely mental: Brain sensors that read YOUR MIND at 100 words a minute

Pete 2

Write what you think

> "can type 100 words per minute straight from your brain."

Since people can't think at 100 wpm, this will just be an unfiltered feed of their consciousness. I would expect the "output" from such a system to be something like:

The minutes of the last meeting oooh, my nose itches are distributed wow look at her to the steering subcommittee WOW for their approval I feel a fart coming on. Having been approved I hope I don't sneeze it'll make the fart worse they will be sent to all the I wish that guy would stop talking so loudly other committee members is it lunchtime yet? who should complete their uh-oh, here it comes their actions before ACHOO damn! .... oh crap the next quarterly meeting I fancy the curry for lunch.

Though I can see that a largely unfiltered stream, straight from the brain, would start to drag psychoanalysis into the 18th century. And that the advent of actual data could end up giving it a basis similar to what Mendeleev did for chemistry.

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Microsoft raises pistol, pulls the trigger on Windows 7, 8 updates for new Intel, AMD chips

Pete 2

MS delivers improved user experience.

> The Redmond giant is no longer serving software fixes to PCs and other systems that run Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 on Intel's fresh new Kaby Lake

So does this mean I won't get any more annoying messages about upgrades. No more pregnant pauses when the box boots up? No more tedious waiting for it to shut down?

If so, BRING IT! it sounds to me like this is the best reason yet to upgrade my CPU.

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Who really gives a toss if it's agile or not?

Pete 2

Save some fun for us!

> under the guise of "agile?". I'm no expert in project management, but I'm pretty sure it isn't supposed to be making it up as you go along, and constantly changing the specs and architecture.

So why should the developers have all the fun? Why can't the designers and architects be "agile", too? Isn't constantly changing stuff all part of the "agile" way?

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Mark Shuttleworth says some free software folk are 'deeply anti-social' and 'love to hate'

Pete 2

Normally abnormal.

> some members of the free software community habitual, hateful and reflexive contrarians

The same can be said about any online forum. So it's good to see that the IT people are no different. Maybe we are "normal" after all?

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Londoners will be trialling driverless cars in pedestrianised area

Pete 2

Re: Squashed jogger or two?

> I wonder if there will be a giant Roomba which also travels the route to clean up all the potential mess ?

Isn't that what the lasers are for ..... Whaddaya mean, they aren't MEGAWATT class lasers!

3
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Head of US military kit-testing slams F-35, says it's scarcely fit to fly

Pete 2

F35 - that's REAL integrated thinking

So is the feature that this fighter can't land more than once just an acknowledgement of the effect that all it's combined failings will have on its combat success?

it was only designed with a single-use arresting gear because the manufacturers don't expect it to survive two sorties.

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Forget robot overlords, humankind will get finished off by IoT

Pete 2

Robot wars?

And what happens when delivery robots from competing companies meet?

Will they pass each other graciously with a tip o' the antenna, or will they deploy the size 10 wheel masher and wreak automated destruction on their foes?

Will we get no-go zones, where DHL's version of Sir Killalot jealously guards every entry road into E14, while UPS's sentries carve out a "Manor" in SW1?

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Robo-AI jobs doomsday may, er... not actually happen, say boffins

Pete 2

Inverting the pyramid

As the actual "producing stuff" gets more automated and therefore cheaper, companies will be able - maybe even required - to employ more layers of managers, supervisors and other clerical roles. We have seen this ever since the 1960s: as mass-production improved, the cost of manufacture dropped, the cost of transportation was reduced and goods got cheaper, into the bargain.

Yet, in order to have a market to sell those goods into, it is necessary to have a large number of employed, well-paid, individuals to actually buy the stuff: consumers. Without them, it doesn't matter how cheap, well-made or innovative something is.

Even 20+ years ago when I worked for a large multinational as a consultant, The overriding element of that company was the number of unproductive administrative staff they employed. I had calculated that from my hourly rate - of which, being an employee I saw very little, they were employing 6 other people, simply based on what they charged for me; at the sharp end - the guy who actually had billables.

And so it will be in the future. When all the productive, revenue earning, work is done by machines companies will still employ the same number of people. But instead of stamping out widgets, selling shiny products to the gullible or explaining to a client why a database table with 1200 VARCHAR columns won't access very fast (will update even slower), will be a nightmare to maintain and probably isn't even what they want - all those employees will while away their days in meetings discussing exactly which shade of brown their packaging boxes should be and whether the risk-assessment for moving the company logo 2mm to the left on the letterhead should be out-sourced or done in-house.

3
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Samsung Galaxy S8: Slimmer bezels, a desktop mode – and yet another me-too AI pal

Pete 2

Time for a deathmatch?

So who is going to get all these virtual assistants together in a room and have them "fight" between themselves.

"Bixby: which is better, you or Siri?"

"Siri, what do you hate most about Cortana?"

"Alexa, Bixby says Amazon sucks"

3
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Miss Misery on hacking Mr Robot and the Missing Sense of Fun

Pete 2

Tech props only

> To my ignorant Windows programmer eyes, the Unixish technical dope looks on the button.

But it is purely gratuitous. The techy detail "revealed" does nothing to further the plot - except for the small number of individuals who crave recognition "Ooooh! he said Linux that proves it is mainstream, respectable, and recognises me as a fellow-hacker, since I downloaded Kali [ p.s. I had to look that one up ] too."

As for dropping a RPi into the plot - that is as cynical as having a A-star-plus celeb with a walk-on part and then promoting the show as "starring .... "

I found the first series really hard to watch (skipping many episodes) and didn't even bother checking series 2. Not just because the drug-induced stupor makes it difficult to determine what is true, nor just because everything is mumbled, but mainly because it just wasn't a very good story: technology neither withstanding nor bystanding.

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Cheap, flimsy, breakable and replaceable – yup, Ikea, you'll be right at home in the IoT world

Pete 2

Re: Racing towards the next 3D TV

S'ok. I know where my towel is.

But I'm never going to give my lightbulbs a pension plan.

(cripes! 40 years and still going strong)

1
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Pete 2

Racing towards the next 3D TV

> the smart lightbulb, there is still nothing compelling enough to justify the extra cost.

Correct.

There is nothing "smart" about having to turn on a light. It doesn't matter if that activation is by taking a couple of seconds flicking a wall-mounted switch or diddlin' around with a smartphone for ten times that length of time.

A smart light knows when it should be on. That is all there is to it.

Most people know this and therefore are not seduced by the geeky draw of needing to send a signal through several networks, possibly across many continents - and then another one right back into the same room, just to turn the lights on. Apart from anything else, what benefit does this offer?

And that is the key: people want benefits, not features. Until someone can convince me that spending 100 nicker on a lightbulb (that will probably be software-obsolete before the bulb's hardware dies) is a good idea, I'll stick with what I have, thanks.

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Why do GUIs jump around like a demented terrier while starting up? Am I on my own?

Pete 2

A two-foot window in a 1-foot hole

Why do designers of un-resizable popups and windows always make them too small for the size of the data they are there to display?

Either the fields you want are too far apart to display simultaneously without scrolling one or t'other out of view, or the widths of fields (such as dates) are far too large for the information within. Is there a school of GUI design that is hell bent in producing interfaces that ensure the minimum possible usability (since ease of use has never been a design parameter in any software spec. I've ever seen)?

8
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Good news, everyone! Two pints a day keep heart problems at bay

Pete 2

Re: booze is good for you

> Given that a pint is 660ml

Ahem. 568ml. But since this is El reg, 0.227 nano-swiming pools.

10
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US military's latest toy set: Record-breaking laser death star, er, truck

Pete 2

The future's cloudy!

I'm sure this works perfectly in places like the White Sands testing range. But in rainy, foggy, europe I can't see (and neither can the LASER lorry) how this could target an enemy that is above the clouds or in the mist.

8
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Hell freezes over: We wrote an El Reg chatbot using Microsoft's AI

Pete 2

Simple, but not too simple

> You can imagine eyes lighting up at the thought of replacing call center staff with a few lines of code

Given the level of simplicity, it would be better to use the "few lines of code" to replace a manager, instead.

5
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Sad fact of the day: Most people still don't know how to protect themselves online

Pete 2

Knowledge is not a requirement

> What was surprising was the high percentage of people who identified as truly feeling defenseless

But we don't expect people to be savvy about other areas of technology, in order to use it.

You don't have to be a nuclear engineer to plug in your electric kettle. You don't have to be a mechanical engineer to drive your car. And you don't need to be a financial wizz-kid to have a bank account.

So it is a little unreasonable to expect "ordinary" people to know, or care, about phishing, viruses, trojans or all the other BUGS IN THE COMPUTER SYSTEMS that allow these things to affect users. The reasons that computers, phones and other platforms are insecure is because security was never designed in. And good security is not requiring million-character passwords that must be different for every account. Nor is it requiring the user to jump through hoops just to access a website. Those are aspects that inhibit good security because people will circumvent them or not use them.

Good security must be transparent. It must not get between the user and what they want to do. It is a failing of IT systems that we don't have secure and usable practices and that the O/S's we use allow and provide for so many security holes.

0
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If fast radio bursts really are revving up interstellar sailcraft, here's the maths

Pete 2

Or ...

> The mean spectrum of FRBs is observed to be Gaussian-shaped, centered on a frequency of a few

GHz

It's an intergalactic WiFi ?

2
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Kodi-pocalypse Now? Actually, it's not quite here yet

Pete 2

When is a pirate not a pirate?

> Most (78 per cent) recognise that "downloading copyrighted material without permission" is illegal

Not to be confused with streaming content. Which the UK Trading Standards people tell us is NOT illegal. Given the number of people who can't or don't distinguish between "the internet" and "wifi" I can see some confusing times ahead.

13
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Facebook shopped BBC hacks to National Crime Agency over child abuse images probe

Pete 2

You stab my back, I'll stab yours

> Milner's condition of agreeing to the interview was for the BBC to send him examples of the images that had not been removed

So hopefully the BBC will report the guy to the police for soliciting images of child abuse.

7
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Stop the press: Journos not happy losing jobs to journo bots, say journos

Pete 2

Re: How would they know?

> Howdy, Pete 2,

Impressive. A little more work on the cultural environment and parsing and I reckon that in 6 months or so, this will be ready. At least for the red-tops.

0
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Pete 2

How would they know?

> Most journalists agreed that robot-churned copy lacked depth, creativity, and complexity compared to articles by experienced human journalists.

But the article tells us, those journo's were from the Sun and the Daily Mirror

What I want from a source of news is facts. Who, Where, When, How much. I do not want opinions. I do not want to be told how to feel about a report (using words like "shocking" in the copy - if something is shocking, I can work that out for myself). I do not want to be given only the part of the story that agrees with the publication's narrative.

This seems ideal for a 'bot. One that hasn't been to "journo school" to learn how to create click-bait headlines, fact-free copy, opinions masquerading as news, articles that tell us what politicians and others in positions of power "should" or "must" do.

If there is to be any place left for individuals with journalistic skills, it would be with subject-matter specialists who can explain the finer details of economic / political / scientific news. To provide background for a story. But not to write half-arsed, incorrect and biased pieces about stuff that doesn't affect anyone in the readership. And most importantly, to decide what constitutes news and to promote that above and to the exclusion of celebrity based tittle-tattle.

0
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Facebook scales back AI flagship after chatbots hit 70% f-AI-lure rate

Pete 2

30% ain't bad!

Even a 70% failure rate would make a Facebook AI more coherent, rational and more pleasant than most of the people who post on there.

3
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The Register's guide to protecting your data when visiting the US

Pete 2

Re: 2FA with the remote device *well* away ?

> So, when stopped - and "required" to provide access, they can knock themselves out with my username & password. They still won't get in.

And neither, I suspect, would you. The drone with the gun or the dude with the badge doesn't give a stuff whether you visit The land of the Free or not.

As Ian Dury once said during a concert: "You can either bend with the wind or break. Right now I will break wind"

If "they" want to search your phone, let 'em. Any sensible person would travel with a device they wouldn't mind losing - either from carelessness or from criminal or government activity. Since pretty much all phone data can be backed up to "the cloud" - as can commercial, sensitive or smutty data, just make sure your dropbox (or whatever) account is available and load your contact list, and all the other stuff once you're through the government checkpoint.

18
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Voila! Bazinga! Amazon turns Alexa into an annoying 'cool' aunt

Pete 2

Emergency backup personality?

With a nod to the SCC post above, there could be more than a few Alexas getting reprogrammed with a very large axe.

3
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We've found a ‘vaccine’ for fake news. Wait! No, we really are Cambridge researchers

Pete 2

Real fake or fake fake?

> We wanted to see if we could find a ‘vaccine’ by pre-emptively exposing people to a small amount of the type of misinformation they might experience. A warning that helps preserve the facts

And who do we trust to provide these true examples of "real" fake news?

12
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Oh Britain. Worried your routers will be hacked, but won't touch the admin settings

Pete 2

the cost of doing the right thing

Yes, and it's not helped by the jargon-packed menus full of meaningless options and the fear of borking the whole, fragile, mess.

And when your ISP threatens to charge you £60 to send and enginneer round, if the fault isn't on the line, you can see why people do nothing.

Hmmm, "a possible £60 charge, or leave the thing with loopholes that I don't understand" you can see why it happens.

Now if some watchdog or other could persuade the ISPs that buggy configurations and security lapses were their responsibility ... they'd probably lock them down so tight you couldn't get in with a pneumatic drill.

5
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Fake History Alert: Sorry BBC, but Apple really did invent the iPhone

Pete 2

Engineering change at the BBC?

> Or, the BBC could publish another article – preferably written by engineering experts

I love a techy with a sense of humour.

The BBC doesn't "do" engineering - especially engineering experts. It barely does any science (the best you can hope for these days is a brief explanation in a cookery programme.) About as far as they are willing to go is to have James May wielding a screwdriver and putting something back together again (though how do we know he wasn't filmed taking it apart and they are just playing the recording backwards?)

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