* Posts by John Smith 19

12886 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

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

John Smith 19
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"Focus your requirements..build something that does one thing well, instead of everything never."

A noble idea, but seriously difficult to do in a government system like (for example) Universal Credit.

The problem is the fear (not the reality, the fear) of the number of interfaces between each of those "systems that does one thing well".

It doesn't help that the people who really understand how the existing systems work together (because the UK civil service is a "mature" environment IE it's got a very complex ecosystem already) are buried deep in the bureaucracy and have taken years to learn this.

And this will continue until those writing these spec realize fear is not real.

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John Smith 19
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"Guess what, the giant IT project turned out to be too complex to succeed."

The attraction of the big project is the (in theory) single interface with a single "systems integrator"

Reg readers know how well that plan works IRL. :-( .

I suspect an honest assessment of most of the ones that did work would be 1) Basically not really big enough to need an SI, who handed the work to a single (very competent) specialist contractor. 2) Re-scoped the project downward to a point where they could hand it to single (very competent) specialist contractor.

The rest would be the genuine, actual mega projects that succeeded.Remember, we're talking about successful projects that delivered actual improvements (over what they replaced) more or less on time and budget. I'm not sure how many of those exist in the UK.

I had the idea of a wedding planner. De-scoping follows

Complete church wedding for 200 guests and reception and honeymoon --> church wedding for 20 guests and reception and honeymoon --> church wedding for 20 guests and reception --> Registry office wedding and book tables at McD's for Happy Meals. --> Success

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John Smith 19
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Re: I suspect this is yet another item the British people should thank the LibDems for.

Just to be clear.

Set up at the request of the LibDems, with the grudging acceptance of the Conservatives.

Emasculated by the Conservatives at the earliest opportunity.

Like an independent Bank of England an independent MPA (with the ability to compel data and investigate deeper if it looks like they are being fed bu***hit) will probably make Ministers lives more difficult, but make the country better in the long term.

Would anyone have a problem with that?

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US Homeland Sec boss has snazzy new laptop bomb scanning tech – but admits he doesn't know what it's called

John Smith 19
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""undetectable bomb could be made for laptops, a remote trigger could not".'

This statement has to be parsed with a lot of care.

Are they talking about a remote trigger whose signal is undetectable? Probably not. Except what good would that do you? What you want is the hold to be RF shielded to stop it doing anything if someone sends it.

Are they talking about a remote trigger that would not show up on current sensors? That sounds more likely. Dodgy circuit board on Xray machine monitor? Time for a deeper probe.

Note. Modern laptop batteries are not passive devices. They contain embedded electronics as well.So on balance just about true, and IRL likely to be so for decades to come.

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John Smith 19
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"Counter Terrorism."

Perfect.

Metal detector --> CT scanner

X-ray machine --> CT scanner

eNose --> CT scanner

Genius. Making the speaker sound knowledgeable without actually having to know anything.

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John Smith 19
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The theatre opens another season......

Back in the day someone trying to sell passenger explosive scanners asked the airline what they would pay to have this.

"$70 a flight"

Note that, a flight, not a passenger.

Why? Because their real threat assessment of the threat was it was too small to raise ticket prices by any significant amount to counter it. Although I can hear also hear Mel Gibson saying "Not many men know how much their life is worth. I do..."

Let's remember the real threats have been caused by a)Unaccompanied luggage b)People with box cutter knives getting into the cockpit. c)People who've had weapons put on the plane by a route that bypassed customs search entirely.

All the hype about "liquid explosives" and other such BS has only been demonstrated when experienced bomb techs had about 30 attempts to get an explosion, with reagent grade chemicals.

IRL almost anything is possible. But a lot of stuff is just complex or ineffective or expensive to do.

As others have noted how many cleaners have turned out to be undocumented people, who in theory should never have passed a background check, but (apparently) did?

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John Smith 19
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" John Pistole, the former administrator of the US Transportation Security Administration, "

Sounds like a bit of a loose cannon to me.

And am I the only person thinking "In Mission Impossible if the agents get caught the Secretary will disavow them. But in the TSA do the agents disavow the Secretary instead?"

Kelly does seem to be a total f**kwit but then I suppose you can't expect all the members of the Trump Cabinet to be up to the intellectual level of the D, who is (as he's said himself) "very smart."

Mine's the appropriate weight jacket for the season with no interior pockets or obvious bulges.

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But how does our ransomware make you feel?

John Smith 19
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Joke

A new business opportunity

Top ransomware author reveals secrets of writing more effective splash screens!

Shorten payment times and get bigger payments

Tells you which payment schemes are best for not getting caught!

Click on attached link to deposit payment and join the webinar.

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Andy Rubin's overhyped and underdelivered Essential phone out 'in a few weeks'

John Smith 19
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Didn't think I'd heard of this, then the clip 360deg camera attachment reminded me.

So no, not getting impatient to see this alleged masterpiece either.

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

John Smith 19
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Officer, I can explain everything.

I just need a little time to compose my thoughts.

That windbreaker with "FBI" on the back in big letters? Nothing whatsoever to do with me.

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Intel is upset that Qualcomm is treating it like Intel treated AMD for years and years

John Smith 19
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Demonstrates the default "business personality" is still sociopath

And as we know sociopaths will do whatever they can get away with.

"It's just business" as Don Corleone pointed out.

Film goers will recall what happens to people who fail to show the proper respect to the Don.

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Q. What's today's top language? A. Python... no, wait, Java... no, C

John Smith 19
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"I got the data collection, preparation and transmission down..over 4 hours to under 20 minutes!"

Which suggests just how much cruft this code had accumulated, and how badly the task had been implemented.

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John Smith 19
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"A friend of mine made a very good living doing M[1] just after leaving University."

"She's an undertaker now..."

That's sort of my point.

IIRC it was Forth based and allows abbreviations of commands. IOW it's for those who find C a bit too verbose.

I think it can legitimately be said that after you've used it you won't want to use another programming language.

Because you won't want to do programming ever again.

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John Smith 19
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They'll even tolerate garbage collected memory. NEVARRRR!!!

I did say tolerate.

"Liking" is a bit too much to ask for, given the loss of absolute control.

But I may have been a bit too optimistic there.

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John Smith 19
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"crash-landings[1] we had when I was a programmer was writing self-modifying code."

I was taught about this in High School. Mostly that it could be done, but it was a Very Bad Idea to do it.

It took me years to find any actual cases of it being used.

They were

a) The Apollo Guidance Computer b) The Bell Labs "Blit" bit mapped terminal.

Both of which had (for different reasons) severe resource constraints.

So I'm curious, what was your hardware environment?

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John Smith 19
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"Learn whichever ones take your fancy though."

Or whatever ones available on the hardware you're paid to develop for.

Although probably a good idea to avoid "M," the language formerly known as mumps.

That's reckoned to be like the disease.

Very nasty if contracted in later life.

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John Smith 19
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"It's all well and good saying that you have 10 years experience in Java. "

Indeed.

My favorite job interview was a second one (after HR had confirmed I didn't drool on the carpet or attack people at random).

"Here's your login details, the machine, the language manuals and your programs function description. We'll be back in two hours. If it runs you get the job."

Only time I'd ever seen such an interview technique. Yes, it took some effort to set up, but the employer soon gets to separate the workers from the BS merchants.

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John Smith 19
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OT. Way to get a C dev to fall in love with another language.

Simple. Let them take a pointer to a procedure (or function) and put it in an array in that language.

Which (IIRC) even Ada allows (called "reference" variables), but strongly discourages.

Give them that, and at least 8 character variable names and they're yours.

They'll even tolerate garbage collected memory

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John Smith 19
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"the thing just fell over,..it was computing a jump into the middle of a commented out section"

Ahhh. They just don't write code like that any more.

Thank f**k.

What an abortion.

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John Smith 19
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"You can spot a Java programmer even when they write in any other language."

Or as they used to say "You can write FORTRAN in any language."

I'll leave others to decide if not being able to write Java in other languages is a good or bad thing.

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John Smith 19
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I suspect there are quite a few Java devs out there

The question is how many of them are good?

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Apple's 'KGB level of secrecy' harms its AI projects – but don't worry, it's started a blog

John Smith 19
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That said AI methods have (slightly) diffused into the mainstream

The ability of MS Outlook's calendar function to cope with relative times like "next week" is due to a (limited) English language parser.

Probably not quite as good as the same capability in Lotus Agenda.

In fact I'm not sure any system has allowed the system to structure (or restructure) data without direct user instructions as freely as Agenda.

A system that makes deductions on your data and acts accordingly requires a high level of trust from its users, which apparently few were prepared to provide.

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Legal boffins poke holes in EU lawmaker's ePrivacy proposals

John Smith 19
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WTF?

I don't want to be told I'm being tracked. I want the option to tell them "No"

And for it to mean "No tracking."

I think we are a long f**king way from any benefit being shown to the person being tracked but a lot of profit being shown to the people doing the tracking.

That makes me a cash cow and them the farmers.

Not acceptable.

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Boffins back bubbles for better bonding with beautiful belongings

John Smith 19
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Quite neat. Plays to the strengths of 3D printing

IE, making cavities and pockets inside objects

I had wondered about reading, but they are pinning that by imaging the object and looking at sub surface rather than sonar, which was my first thought.

BTW these pockets are meant to be in undetectable by eye as they are too small.

So potentially quite a useful addition to the 3D printing SOA.

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The lady (or man) vanishes: The thorny issue of GDPR coding

John Smith 19
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WTF?

"A single source of truth"

That's across all those legacy systems like

HPUX boxes

HP 3000 boxes (stack architecture, integrated proprietary DB)

IBM iSeries

Sperry mainframes (Just for variety, as everyone mentions IBM mainframes, also Fujitsu and ICL)

Windows running whatever DB

Linux running whatever DB

Whenever I hear the words "Oh yeah, we cover all the platforms" they usually mean all the DB's on Windows (or maybe they do Linux as well). Most of the time they have no f**king clue of the range of data sources you might have to search and map. And there's a big wide world out there that is not Windows or *nix.

Yes this is going to be a big problem. The sooner all companies start recognizing this the sooner they start scheduling time to deal with it.

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Death to strap-ons, says Intel, yet thrusts its little AI stick into us all

John Smith 19
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"Totally untrue; They have a strategy! ... Fling shit at te wall & see what sticks :)"

Perhaps I have absurdly high expectations but, somehow I guess I just expected something a bit sharper from a company with a market value of $160+ Bn.

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John Smith 19
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"the armbands were overheating to the point of injuring wearers. "

Intel, manufacturers of the most advanced heating elements on the planet.

As for their latest thing am I the only one who's thinking "solution in search of a problem"

Intel is a fascinating company to watch. SoA chip fabs and laser focused on the x86 ISA.

But

Once you get away from their near monopoly product, and the SoA fabs it funds, it's like a headless chicken with an open wallet. No one seems to have a helicopter view. All tactics, no strategy.

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Bluetooth makes a mesh of itself with new spec

John Smith 19
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Sounds like what you'd need if you building a wireless home security system that works

IE doesn't swallow a mound of batteries on a regular basis and is adequately secure.

Cautious optimism.

Light bulbs as the new post offices?

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HMS Frigatey Mcfrigateface given her official name

John Smith 19
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I would have thought in modern warship design you start with the weapons....

Then figure out how big a mound of each type of them you're going to carry.

Then figure out what sensors you're going to need give them an effective range.

Then figure out how fast this package has to move under given sea conditions.

Then figure out how long you want it to be able to operate without resupply.

Then figure out what that says about how much fuel and supplies you need to do this.

And then you design the structure that's going to carry all this ammo, food, fuel and crew.

But what do I know?

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John Smith 19
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"Thank your stars they aren't being named for the residents of No 10"

The HMS Foster?

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John Smith 19
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"HMS Marmite or HMS Cillit Bang."

HMS Kandykrush?

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John Smith 19
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"the vessel in question is called USS Ponce"

Apparently he was a key figure in the history of the US Navy and much admired by US naval historians.

Who don't think there's anything risible about his sir name.

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John Smith 19
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"Cool 'warshipy' names"

I think things like "Defiance," "Revenge," or "Trafalgar"

Although they might be considered a touch aggressive and a bit anti-European these days.

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John Smith 19
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"the Type 26 will carry the Royal Navy's tradition... "

Of massive cost overruns from Billions Above estimate

Yay for that.

Let's hope the on board electronics work OK.

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Another Brexit cliff edge: UK.gov warned over data flows to EU

John Smith 19
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"ok , so comply with them. It's only the same as if we didnt leave. we are already doing it."

I think you'll find that also means needing that "tariff free access" to those markets people talk about, so every transaction, or deal, does not get a surcharge on it, which would discourage people from using the UK.

So it's quite important for the UK that this get sorted out.

But both France (Paris) and Germany (Frankfurt) would quite like to move up the league table of "World Financial Centres" which might make the negotiation a tricky one.

Along with all the other "tricky ones" in the Brexit process.

It comes down to this. The UK wants free movement of goods, services and capital but not people.

The EU feels that if you want that you have to have free movement of people as well.

Time will tell if the UK position is a pragmatic one which the rest of the EU will accept, or a complete fantasy which should only have been accepted by well informed people if they'd nosed up a kilo of cocaine.

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John Smith 19
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"The EU..still largely run by the nation states,..find it politically expedient to blame "Brussels"

A very popular tactic in the UK.

Especially with some newspapers.

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John Smith 19
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""those cockwombles obviously haven't got one fucking clue on how to do any of this"?"

Pretty much.

For something that's been in play now for more than a year (specifically from 24/6/16), and the whole of Whitehall knew they were going to be (and are) being affected by they don't seem to produced much in the way of how their Ministry/Department/Agency is going to be changed by what is probably the biggest single change in the UK in the last 45 years.

Which is odd, as I'd always thought the UK civil service did contingency planning ("No it's probably going to be a remain vote, but just in case it isn't...") and best case/worst case scoping quite well.

But the silence seems deafening.

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John Smith 19
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" I fail to see how leaving could possibly end up a bigger disaster than staying. "

"Before we joined we had space programs,"

Till a committee of the "great and good" decided those nice Americans could do it all for you, and anyway what does HMG need with satellites? that was in 1969.

"built our own planes, "

While civil service policy at the MoD (like that in the US) said the UK needed to have "national champions." That' lead ultimately to the formation of GEC and BAe. Nothing to do with Europe, except some countries were also stupid enough to ignore the fact that competition (if done right) can lower costs. Now the UK has El Reg's favorite defense con-tractor BAe.

"had armed forces worthy of the name (and not equipped by Spanish tanks and Belgium guns), "

Which might, just might be better than something that BAe builds (10 years late and as usual Billions Above estimate)

"control over our own sources of power (not told we can't burn coal and must import French energy), "

You'd like to follow the D and walk away from the Tokyo accords, or Tony Blairs legally binding requirement to lower green house gas emissions across all industry? It looks like you don't know that both of these were several decades after the UK joined the EU.

"could grow and sell any apples we wanted,"

And could continue to use toughened glass windscreens, despite laminated types being safer (the DoT blocked their introduction but cited "National Security" as they couldn't tell anyone why only they thought it was safer for about a decade).

" could produce enough milk for our needs,

Maybe the privatization of the Milk Marketing Board had something to do with this, or the low quotas to allow the UK to continue to import NZ butter instead?

"could sort out taxation as we wanted,"

Because it's the EU that sets VAT at 20%?

Oh no it isn't, is it. That's set by the Treasury.

As are taxes on drink, tobacco and fuel.

" could make enough steel for our industry and decide if an industry was strategic and important enough to support etc etc etc"

Did you know that it's possible to specify in govt contracts a "buy local clause" ?

Completely within EU rules. AFAIK most of Europe uses such things but the UK does not.

UK civil servants believe they must (at all times) demonstrate they are getting "best value for money."

Besides making a decision to buy local would require the UK to formulate something (let's call it an "industrial strategy") to support it's UK industries. But that's a waste of time "Let the markets decide," has been the battle cry for decades.

And they have.

There are something like 3000 "non tariff barriers" countries can use to encourage their local producers and discourage foreign competition according to the WTO.

But the UK civil services does not like using them.

Just like penalty clauses to government con-tractors or the PFI contracts.

So if you were just trolling, congratulations, I have been trolled. Well played.

But if you sincerely believed any of the bo***cks you spouted, and voted in the UK Referendum based on your ignorance and prejudices, then as the yoof are inclined to say "you been played like a b**ch."

You'd do better to vent you spleen at the British Civil Service, who BTW through the Home Office f**ked up support to migrants to the UK, helping to create all those "immigrants overwhelming council resources" stories so popular with most of the UK press.

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John Smith 19
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"he just thought.. easy win..easy way to shut down UKIP and..Brexiteer wing of the Tory party. "

Exactly.

Ever wonder what a Conservative leader will do?

Whatever it takes to keep the party a) In power b) Together.

So CMD will consider smoking the Kippers a job well done.

And while he's getting a £100K to give speeches on the need for "austerity," while May remains hip deep in the s**t of Brexit and being nice to the DUP WTF should he care?

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White boxer is a white racker: Supermicro touts Rack Scale Design

John Smith 19
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Scaelable infrastructure...

Sounds like quite a good idea.

What sort of prices are we talking about, roughly?

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NHS trusts splashed £260m on PCs in last four years

John Smith 19
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" Change Control..an updated piece of software..on all the devices that have already been built"

Which is of course a PITA.

However this also suggests that you need to batch up such changes and do "block updates." Test them as a batch and roll out the revised image as a complete chunk outside office hours, give that a large part of the NHS is still a 9/5 Mon/Fri operation.

Naturally that implies you get the time and support to allow those tests to get done.

The NHS (probably along with other medical organizations) is between a rock and hard place. It wants rock solid, avionics grade reliable software. OTOH unlike avionics they don't have full control over the code that runs on the estate, a lot of which is closed source

At some point NHS central management, and trust managements, will have to get their head round the idea that stuff changes and freezing software (and the OS it runs on) for a decade or more, is a very stupid idea. Putting penalty clauses in new software to force developers to be browser agnostic for example would be a start.

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UK mobile number porting creaks: Arcane system shows its age

John Smith 19
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"negative words are politically incorrect in some culture I know nothing of"

You'd better believe it.

In Japanese the word for yes is "Hai."

I've never heard the word for no, because it's almost never used.

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Crazy bug of the week: Gnome Files' .MSI parser runs evil VBScripts

John Smith 19
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FAIL

"fully recognise inputs before processing them"

Yes you'd think that's in the "do not stick your fingers in an electric socket as it may harm you" grade of stupid warnings that don't need to be issued.

Except apparently it's not.

Or for the slightly more professional.

If you don't understand a language spec fully you should not try constructing a parser for that language, because you will probably f**k it up.

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Breathless F-35 pilots to get oxygen boost via algorithm tweak

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O-BOGS

Possibly an unfortunate acronym, but what few pilots might have felt like as they realized their minds were slowly turning to blancmange.

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Remember that Citadel bank-slurping malware? Its main man was just jailed for five years

John Smith 19
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"he gets out and disappears and lives the rest of his life in luxury "

Probably not.

That money would have gone to the people who bought, and used their software.

Those guys (Point Headed Criminal Bosses) have the $30m.

What he got depends on how many copies (and support contracts) they sold, and how long their support ran.

Probably enough to keep the wolfski from the door, but I'd strongly suspect << $1m.

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$30 million below Parity: Ethereum wallet bug fingered in mass heist

John Smith 19
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"You're calling them white hat hackers."

I think that's what they are calling themselves.

Maybe they are just giving themselves more time to launder the loot.

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Me-ow! Ruski tech titan Yandex open-sources ML library CatBoost

John Smith 19
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Re: Obvious question with gradient optimization questions.

I think of it as a path up and down a series of hills.

Across the whole landscape, where is the real absolute minimum or maximum? On a screen it's more or less obvious, but a) Computers are blind and b) the graph may be an n-dimensional surface, which you can't show on a screen anyway.

So you use first and second derivatives to find zeros and inflexion points, but of course you probably don't have the equations for the data (which would let you find the real points analytically) so you have to do it numerically with the associated (potential) s**tstorm of numerical instability.

Obviously software packages should handle such problems (or let you know they are happening so you can handle them) but that's about the limit of my knowledge of the subject.

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Tapping the Bank of Mum and Dad: Why your Netflix subscription is poised to rise (again)

John Smith 19
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Given Uber's rep for poor background checks shouldn't the correct synonym for Uber be...

rapist, rather than hoover?

Hmmm. Perhaps sharing a "rapist" to somewhere is the most sensible policy.

Basic lesson in economics.

Once upon a time joint stock companies are run for the benefit of the stockholders, IE delivering stock price rises and dividends.

These companies seem to be run solely for the Board, who may not own any shares in the business (or have a big pile bought at greatly discounted price because of their job).

On that basis wouldn't you be pretty stupid to buy shares in them?

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Quantum crypto upstart QuintessenceLabs hopes to cut the cord

John Smith 19
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"..modulate..extremely low level..phase..amplitude,..placed on..carrier a quantum-modulated signal”

So a sort of quantum stenography, where it's the pattern of changes, rather than the changes themselves, that are the quantum key?

No, I have no idea if that makes the system more, less or about the same security as single photon key transfer.

In fact I'm not really sure what that first sentence means.

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