* Posts by Pete 2

2656 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Londoners will be trialling driverless cars in pedestrianised area

Pete 2
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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!

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

Pete 2
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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
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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
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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.

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

Pete 2
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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"

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

Pete 2
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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
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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)

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Pete 2
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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
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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)?

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

Pete 2
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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.

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

Pete 2
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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.

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

Pete 2
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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.

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

Pete 2
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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.

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

Pete 2
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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 ?

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

Pete 2
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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.

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

Pete 2
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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.

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

Pete 2
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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.

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Pete 2
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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.

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

Pete 2
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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.

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

Pete 2
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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.

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

Pete 2
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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.

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

Pete 2
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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?

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

Pete 2
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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.

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

Pete 2
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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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TV anchor says live on-air 'Alexa, order me a dollhouse' – guess what happens next

Pete 2
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Computer security? problems have only just begun

> That, apparently, was enough to set off Alexa-powered Echo boxes around San Diego on their own shopping sprees.

If all that happened was that some people got an unwanted order, they got off lightly.

Hopefully the next time, it won't be something like Alexa, send $1000 to this charity, then close my account and delete all my files

The opportunities for voice-recognised security breaches make ordinary, I.P. security look like Fort Knox by comparison. Just imagine how much damage could be caused by the person at the next desk (or the next table in the cafe) recording your conversation, editing in or out the choice words and then replaying your own voice to make your voice-operated phone / device do bad things.

Voice operation is intrinsically insecure. We have enough trouble with systems that are, at least, theoretically securable. These systems seem to be unfixable without completely removing the convenience that is their biggest attraction.

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Could YOU survive a zombie apocalypse? Uni eggheads say you'd last just 100 days

Pete 2
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Re: What an incredibly simplistic mathematical model.

My thoughts too.

I'm not a biologist (or fan of zombie fiction). But it seems to me that zombies can only walk and there are a large number of inhabited islands on the planet.

Just so long as someone remembers to close the channel tunnel, I don't think we'd be troubled. Though having to become self-sufficient might be a bit of a shock to some.

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‘Artificial Intelligence’ was 2016's fake news

Pete 2
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AI is as AI does

> the definition of “AI” has been stretched so that it generously encompasses pretty much anything with an algorithm

Just like the term "hacker" was hijacked, 20 years ago.

The thing is, it doesn't take much in the way of smarts to wizz through an Amazon warehouse and pull items off a shelf. But if your "fulfillment" job has just been replaced by a computerised shopping cart, you're going to assume it's at least as intelligent as you are - right?

And if your coffee-pourer person suddenly becomes a metal box that you speak your order to and it squirts a drink in your general direction you could be forgiven for thinking that is "clever", too.

So while we all know what a real hacker is. And we know what constitutes real AI, in the media's world it is anything that replaces a person - or that acts / speaks / understands like a person. Especially when many journalists will soon find that they have been replaced by a combination aggregator / sentence writer. After all, it doesn't take much for someone at The Guardian to trawl the twitter-sphere and select random tweets that more-or-less support the case they are trying to make.

Though if they ever did more than that (or more than produce a list of synonyms for "I don't like [choose political slant]", add a load of adjectives and call it an opinion piece) they might find themselves on safer ground, career-wise.

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Non-existent sex robots already burning holes in men’s pockets

Pete 2
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Another story here?

“For this purpose,” the researchers continued, “the robots do not only provide replications of some secondary sexual characteristics (e.g. breasts), but also external genitals (e.g. labia). ... to move ... and speak.”

As the researchers note, “At present, there is no sex robot available that is suitable for the masses and that provides all the features listed above.

The conclusion (assuming this isn't just the result of a clumsy use of language) is that there IS such a device, but that it's not "suitable for the masses". Did the researchers accidentally let slip that they had such a device, but wanted to keep it for themselves?

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Blue sky basic income thinking is b****cks

Pete 2
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But where would the robots be?

The whole premise of Universal Basic Income requires that the robots that have "stolen" peoples jobs would simply replace those workers in the retail outlets they currently occupy and therefore the commercial enterprises that own and run these places would be a source of tax on the commerce they execute.

But this is a huge supposition. And probably a wrong one.

What reason would there be for individuals (who would be at home, either working there or because they have no job) to step out, possibly drive or be driven to a Starbucks, for example, merely to get an overpriced coffee? Would the replacement market not be much simpler and more effective if it placed the robot coffee-maker in peoples' homes and had Amazon (or whoever) to drone-drop supplies of beans and other raw materials.

Whether it is a coffee maker, 3-D printer, freezer-to-plate cooker, clothes-maker or universal replicator. If these were owned by the user, there would be no source of taxation revenue except from the very people who were receiving UBI. That is similar to pulling yourself up by the bootstraps and doesn't seem to be a practical solution.

The UBI premise only sounds attractive because it makes assumptions about the commercial future that almost certainly won't be what it evolves into.

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ESA: Sorry about Schiaparelli, can we have another €400 mill?

Pete 2
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So, you want an extra €400 million?

Well, OK. But you've got to promise to test the damn software this time.

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Google declares victory for its Wifi router before it's even shipped

Pete 2
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Marketing 101

> Google hasn't yet released its Wifi mesh router, but the company is already claiming to have bested the competition.

Clearly that is the best time to tell people how excellent your product is: before anyone has seen it and could possibly disprove your claim with all that annoying "experience"?

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NASA trying to rein in next-generation super-heavy lifter costs

Pete 2
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Re: Haven't we been here before?

* It's a sales pitch. This would work way better than "Quick, do it before your impeachment".

Or any other ways that Trump could even more suddenly stop being the POTUS. Ways that make being El Presidente the most dangerous job in the world.

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Pete 2
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How much have you got? That's what it will cost!

The reason the (newest) Space Launch System costs so much is because that is what the american government with it's $ TRILLIONS is willing to spend on it. As each day passes, more people will add more "it would be great if it could do .... " to the list of uses, abilities and features this puppy should have.

It is the same with all government financed projects: They take so long, there is so much scope-creep, the costs go up, so the projects take longer, so there is more time to make changes and to change people's minds, which increases costs, that causes delays and finally the whole thing gets canned.

Probably the best thing that NASA could do would be to sell itself to Musk, or the big Z, or some other internet gazzilionaire. Someone who would get things done, rather than just building bigger and costlier versions of the same technology that's been their staple forever. It's now 50 years since the first Saturn V and NASA seem to be celebrating that fact by building it again.

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AI gives porn peddlers a helping hand

Pete 2
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One way to increase quality

This is probably the most rigorously tested software ever to be released under the GPL

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The sharks of AI will attack expensive and scarce workers faster than they eat drivers

Pete 2
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Learning to live

> Education needs to become a constant part of our diet: real education,

To what end?

As the article points out, "education" or more precisely: vocational qualifications have failed some professions already and are increasingly likely to be a lost bet in terms of time taken and money spent, verses lifetime monetary returns. So what will be the point of education, when anything and everything that an education confers can be made available from an AI or automated / robotic source?

In that respect, professionals are facing the same problems that airline pilots have. So much of a flight is run by the autopilot that many real pilots, while having 000's of hours in the big chair, have little clue what to do during an emergency and need constant refreshers to keep their edge.

What will be the state of professions in, say, 50 years when there are no more human lawyers, surgeons, teachers or actors. No more drivers, shop assistants, bank staff or administrators? Will it matter that having an IQ above 85 becomes a liability since you can question the reason for your existence, but have no means for self-improvement? And with no opportunities to improve ourselves or earn a bean, where will future innovations and progress come from?

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Zuckerberg says just one per cent of news on Facebook is fake

Pete 2
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Right and wrong at the same time

> Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic

While the big Z is correct, he ignores or doesn't understand that the other 1% is very, very, influential. It also spreads wider and faster than the 99% of dross which is cat videos, stooopid quizzes and facist rants from cranky old people.

It isn't the volume of crap that makes up Facebook which is important, it's the tiny amount of stuff which professional manipulators (or media companies if you want to get picky) post with the sole intention of changing people's opinions. Those companies are very good at what they do, and their material is targeted at the gullible, impressionable and easily persuaded.

While it is small proportion, it is read widely and reposted often. I would bet that if Z counted the likes or number of reads that fake "news" gets, those stories would be in the top 50 posts every day of the week.

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'Extra-supermoon' to appear next week

Pete 2
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Here's one I prepared earlier

> If you get some nice snaps on the night, do write to The Register and we'll publish any especially pretty pics.

Ummm, a photo won't show any difference between a "supermoon" (merely appearing a little larger) and a normal full moon.

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Ubuntu Core Snaps door shut on Linux's new Dirty COWs

Pete 2
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Snap! saviour of the universe?

> They [ snaps from Canonical ] contain code from the Linux kernel maker, Canonical for the Ubuntu distro, and the device maker and ISVs whose code might be resident onboard

All very well: pushing updates to IoT systems even though they don't ask for them. However, this leaves Canonical as the self-appointed guardian of the IoT-verse. Will they accept the responsibility of "snapping" every Ubuntu based IoT device from now to eternity? Will they only provide snaps for a specific length of time - say: for LTS kernels' lifespan or for "blessed" (paid for, subscription, rented ?) devices. And if so, what happens after that? do the devices merely become unsupported and therefore just as vulnerable as they are now - or does Canonical or the device-maker decide to brick them, in the interests of everyone else's security from bot-nets?

Finally, Canonical won't be around forever. who takes the strain when they exit(0)?

This sounds like a nice feature, but the implications need to be made clear.

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New measurement alert. The Pogba: 1,200Pg = NHS annual budget

Pete 2
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But what is the unit for measuring standardisation of units?

> while 1Pg is equal to £89.3m, 2Pg does not necessarily equal £178.6m

I look forward to reading your explanation of the Erlang

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BYE, EVERYBODY! Virtual personal health assistants are coming, says Gartner

Pete 2
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Trust me, I'm a doctor

And I can see a whole new phishing area opening up: "Just take off your clothes and stand in front of the webcam for me"

But as for:

> they are better at processing all the determinants of health and wellbeing than even the best of doctors

That may be so, but it is only simple cases where an ill person walks into an appointment, only talks to someone and walks out with a prescription (though I can see this would be easily gamed to get some choice meds, for other uses). How will a chat-bot take your B.P. or pulse or ask "does this hurt?"

And it will still need the patient to turn up somewhere when the inevitable tests are required.

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Mercedes answers autonomous car moral dilemma: Yeah, we'll just run over pedestrians

Pete 2
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The wrong people making the wrong decision

It doesn't really matter what the techies at Mercedes, Ford, GM, Telsa or any other car maker decides. The rights and wrongs of the matter will be decided country-by-country in case law, as each injury-accident or death is prosecuted.

This will, or course, be a shambolic maze of conflicting principles, examples, precedents and exceptions. Not only will each car, from each manufacturer, have to have its autonomous software updated to account for they ways each country's laws evolve with each new case won or lost, but that same software will have to be aware when the car moves from one jurisdiction into another, and then start to drive according to that place's laws (just like a person would have to).

I can also foresee mass disabling of vehicles (by the million) when updates fail. You might think that it's annoying when W10 decides, of its own volition, to make your computer unusable for hours while it downloads some updates. Imagine when you try to get into your car to go to work and the dashboard informs you that it won't be drivable for another 2 hours due to a legal upgrade. (Or worse: when it pulls in to the side of the road to do the same thing, while you're traveling).

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Pocket C.H.I.P. makers go Pro with cloud-linked ARM-flexing module for IoT gizmo builders

Pete 2
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The success is in the support

There are a million (OK, slight exaggeration) different Linux SBCs from loads of different vendors. Most of them are deservedly obscure - although cheaper than this offering.

The ones that do succeed are the ones that realise the hardware is only a small part of what the users (or developers) need.

The major part is the software. Not just the kernel - but the libraries to handle the peripherals, the APIs, the documentation, the support forums and the bug fixes.

So please, SBC suppliers, don't think it's enough to simply slap a SoS on an "open source hardware" board, think of a cute name and logo for the box and then wait for success to embrace you. If that is all you can offer then you have nothing. Once you have done all that, you're about 10% of the way towards a product that people will want to test, develop on, advocate and use in quantity. The other 90% of the effort is in writing examples, supporting your forum, porting kernels, debugging drivers, documenting the hardware interfaces, writing up projects for users to adapt and generally keeping the "buzz" going.

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Crooks and kids (not scary spies paid by govt overlords) are behind most breaches

Pete 2
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Talk big, do nothing.

> most breaches are actually the result of either criminal activity or "kids messing around"

But it is in nobody's interest to admit this.

The police look stupid if they have to admit they are unable to detect the majority of reported hacks - when they are merely the work of children "messing around". The targets (are they really victims when their security is so lax?) will lose the confidence of their users / customers and suppliers if they are found to be hacked so easily.

So, just like a cage fighter would be embarrassed by getting beaten up by a 7-stone weakling, it is in the interests of all concerned (including the hackers) to big-up the skills and luck of the hackers. That absolves all parties of blame and of the need to put in place even basic security measures (measure #1 - sack your security manager, if you get hacked again: sack the CEO).

However, this does rather assume that the same outfit isn't hacked again a short time later, when the questions about why start to be asked of the higher echelons.

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Command line coffee machine: Hacker shuns app so he can stay at the keyboard for longer

Pete 2
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Networked, but not joined up

> Since I work from home, most of the times ...

The guy wrote a command line app so he can spend more time bash[groan]-ing out code.

However, he still has to get up from his chair, walk over to the machine and collect his freshly brewed coffee.

A more sensible approach would simply be to put the machine near his desk.

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NIST: People have given up on cybersecurity – it's too much hassle

Pete 2
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Too hard, won't use.

To be successful, security measures must be at the level of intrusiveness of putting your key in the latch - once, If it can be made even simpler: down to the level of car's keyless entry, then better still. But that all requires significant changes at the hardware level - changes that can't be backed into a 30 year-old, pre-internet, PC architecture.

That is why all the security bolt-on products we are being sold are so complex, complex AND unreliable, since they continually fall behind the exploits that are being developed. I do not believe that computers as we have them today can be made secure. Not without dumping all of the backwards compatibility that seems to be mandatory in order to preserve a suppliers existing user-base.

Fortunately for the "ordinary people" in the survey, home computers are a dying breed. Being overtaken by their phone (although most transactions aren't voice calls, so "telephone" is a rather anachronistic term for them). And here there IS the opportunity to build in security measures since the life-cycle is only a few years.

However, I still won't engage in personal banking on my phone. My (Linux) computers, with multiple user accounts - only 1 of which is used for personal finance, is still far more secure that either Windows or a phone.

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Yahoo! couldn't! detect! hackers! in! its! network! but! can! spot! NSFW! smut! in! your! office?

Pete 2
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What it needs most is a good UI

> a classifier for NSFW detection, and provide feedback to us on ways to improve the classifier."

So essentially Yahoo are building a search engine for porn?

I'm surprised it took someone all this time to get a round to that.

All it needs now is a snappy name.

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How to build a storage startup

Pete 2
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Here's where it all falls apart

> Most folks don't typically have a spare $100k around, nor the ability to bootstrap for three months, so this usually means the startup consists of four people, with the fourth being the pre-angel funder. In most cases this individual doesn't concern themselves directly with running the startup.

You can readily identify these pre-angel funders They are the ones riding the unicorns.

All this stuff is great if you are writing a screenplay for a geeky "sci-fi" drama. In practice it never happens. Nobody knows individuals who are willing to drop $100k in 3 months in the hope that something they don't understand might, just, turn into a winner.

As it is, most startups require their "core" people to show some level of commitment to the project. Put in purely financial terms, for a bunch of millenials still living with their parents, this means paying for your Oyster card and maybe a pizza on Friday lunchtime. Even for regular people, with commitments and families you'd be hard-pressed to find a pre-angel willing to stump up more than £1k a month for a couple of people.

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Ordinary punters will get squat from smart meters, reckons report

Pete 2
Silver badge

Many sellers, with identical products

> If the market is functioning perfectly. Which few do

They don't have to function perfectly - just well enough.

In the electricity market, the overheads are crucial.

Everyone uses the same electricity, bought on the same market, using the same currency hedges. It's sent down the same wires and comes from the same power stations (although some suppliers own their own power stations, they still buy and sell openly).

So in the end, there's little to differentiate the price from one supplier to another except how well they run their businesses: i.e. the performance of their C-levels and their overheads: offices, IT, call centres and metering (which is generally outsourced anyway).

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Brexit at the next junction: Verity's guide to key post-vote skills

Pete 2
Silver badge

While we're at it

We might as well go the whole IT-protectionist route and reinstate the (british) EDSAC "standard" 18-bit word length for computers and, of course, the JANET style naming convention for domains - also known as back to front or uk.co.theregister.

At least that would slow the spammers down a little.

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Do AI chat bots need a personality bypass – or will we only trust gabber 'droids with character?

Pete 2
Silver badge

The speaking phish

> In conclusion, there isn’t any value in bots having unique personalities

I would expect that once a realistic sounding AI starts making cold calls and asking people for their financial secrets, the response rate will go through the roof. The only question would be whether to give it the "personality" of a bank employee, a police officer, a surveyor, one of your friends (with extra input from FB) or an elderly relative in a spot of bother.

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