* Posts by Paul 25

159 posts • joined 11 Jun 2009

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Banking group denied access to iPhones' NFC chips for alt.Apple.Pay

Paul 25

Or just pay the ine

From the article it sounds like Apple were simply prepared to pay the fine. If there are fixed level fines then this is almost certainly something that Apple could suck up.

It's a bit like Amazon's decision to not implement Mastercard Securecode or verified by Visa. I believe they pay a "fine" of sorts for not using it but have decided that not completely fucking up their checkout process with a poorly thought out UX car-crash is totally worth the cash.

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Calling your redundancy programme Baccarat? Immense Bummer, Management

Paul 25

What an offer....

So the options were:

* Volunteer in Feb and get 30 days statutory

* Wait for the redundancy process to kick in, then get 30 days statutory.

Why would anyone pick the first option? Why go immediately when you can carry on being paid to sit at work and browse job sites and tart up your CV?

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What went up, Musk come down again: SpaceX to blast sat into orbit with used rocket

Paul 25
Go

Crunch time?

"March is going to be a crunch month for SpaceX"

Hopefully not...

19
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Who's behind the Kodi TV streaming stick crackdown?

Paul 25

Re: Said it before, will say it again

Oh god this.

We have Amazon Prime and while it's a nice to have addon for a service I'd pay for anyway (Prime delivery is really useful for me), I can't imagine paying much for just the streaming service.

The film library is pretty rubbish, with lot so of random holes, and a total absence of good older material.

The music industry, on the other hand, have nailed it with Spotify/Amazon Music etc. I happily pay more per month than I ever used to for music on CD because if I want to listen to it I can pretty much guarentee it will be there. It's very rare for me to not find what I'm looking for there.

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Amazon's first live drone delivery flew last week in Cambridge, UK

Paul 25

Getting started early

This feels like a nice gimmick, but clearly not practical at the moment, and I don't think Amazon think it is either.

But Amazon appear serious about this. They've put some effort into those drones and the infrastructure around them. Basically they seem to be ironing out how such a system works in the expectation that the efficiency, range and carrying capacity of the drone will increase over time with improved battery tech.

It feels like one of those long bets that won't pay off for a good few years, but they will be ready if/when it does.

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OpenStreetView? You are no longer hostage to Google's car-driven vision

Paul 25

Re: Portable atlas?

Google Maps app lets you download map areas for use while you are offline. Always worth doing before a long journey.

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UK.gov flings £400m at gold standard, ‘full-fibre' b*&%*%£$%. Yep. Broadband

Paul 25

What are people doing that needs fibre?

Genuine question. I rarely hit the upper limit on my 40mbps line.

FTTP feels like HS2, a flashy and expenisve project that will benefit a relatively small portion of the population, when the same money would make a massive difference to the vast mass of people stuck on crap, slow and congested lines who just want "not crap".

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Brit smart streetlight bods Telensa named 'global market leader'

Paul 25
FAIL

Re: For walkers too

Twice in the last month I've used the stalls in bathrooms that had these.

In both cases the idiots that installed them forgot to make sure that the occupant of the stalls were covered by the PIR sensor, resulting in me having to take a dump in the dark.

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Brexit judgment could be hit for six by those crazy Supreme Court judges, says barrister

Paul 25

Re: Thursday's explosive anti-Brexit judgment

Indeed. This seems to have been the big problem. It was only ever an advisory referendum.

This whole farce has just been a massive pile of political miscalculations stacked one on top of the other, from Cameron assuming he'd win, to Boris assuming he'd lose but become leader, to assumptions about how the other EU countries would react, to the government's assumption that it would have the power to act on A50.

Despite all that, and me being a (reluctant) remain voter, I do wish this would all get settled one way or the other and we can get on with sorting out what the world is going to look like for the next decade. The uncertainty is screwing everything up.

Personally I think the only way to settle this properly would be a second referendum that's actually binding. If we stay because of legal wranglings and political screwups then the damage could be immense. At least with a second binding vote, whatever the descision, we might get some kind of closure.

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Smart Meter rollout delayed again. Cost us £11bn, eh?

Paul 25

I would quite like one, simply because our meters are in an awkward to reach position in the under stairs cupboard, other than that you're right, no real benefit to most people.

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Paul 25

Re: What's the advantage to the consumer?

Glad I'm not the only one.

The potential annual savings that people claim are frankly minuscule compared with all my other outgoings, and certainly too small to warrant drastic changes like replacing the fridge or oven, or less drastic ones like preemptively changing the lightbulbs.

The irony of course is that those who would benefit the most from reducing their energy bills are generally those without the cash to do something about it. I'm sure a lot of people on the bread line would like to save £20 a month by upgrading their electrical appliances, but they are a bit stuffed by not having the money to do so. The best most of them can do is to turn things off, and you don't need a smart meter to tell you that.

The only significant benefit I can see to these is not having to scrabble around in the understairs cupboard to take a meter reading, everything else is overblown BS.

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Boy, 12, gets €100k bill from Google after confusing Adwords with Adsense

Paul 25

I'm confused as to how someone can be that confused

I don't get how someone can set up an AdWords campaign without realising they are paying for adverts.

The kid would have had to enter the details of the adverts he wanted to show before he'd have been charged for anything. These are two totally different things. Everything about the AdWords interface screams "you are placing an advert" not "please pay me to show adverts".

Perhaps I'm being a tad cynical but this sounds more like the 12 year old wanted to advertise his band, it cost way more than he thought it would, so he goes with the convenient excuse that he was "confused". He wouldn't be the first 12 year old to think something sounded like a good plan only for it to get out of hand.

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Before Bitcoin, digital cash was called Beenz – all that's left is a T-shirt

Paul 25

Re: Ppshaw

We had Mondex on our ID/library card at York university when I was a student. In theory, at the time, it was an interesting idea, you could load your card at cash machines or pay phones on campus, societies could take payment from them with a little calculator style transfer machine, and you could pay for anything on campus (including the payphones and a few local shops) with it.

But it was so, so, sooooo slow. I don't think anyone ever tried to use Mondex at a busy college bar more than once.

Had it been remotely as fast as contactless credit card payments it could have found a niche somewhere, but petty much everyone fell back to using cash.

Nowadays of course it's been made utterly irrelevant by contactless payments. In a world where we have almost ubiquitous internet connections this kind of digital cash solves a problem that doesn't really exist any more.

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152k cameras in 990Gbps record-breaking dual DDoS

Paul 25

Because they are spread around accross many many ISPs. Seen from each individual ISP's view the traffic is a drop in the ocean, but for the receiving site it's a deluge.

152k devices would be spread pretty thin across many, many ISPs.

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Lack of Hurd mentality at Oracle OpenWorld: Co-CEO's cloud claims fall flat live on stage

Paul 25

It never stops astonishing me...

the way terrible execs seem to just keep going from one company to another screwing things up.

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You should install smart meters even if they're dumb, says flack

Paul 25

I want one, but only because our meters are in an awkward spot

I'd like to never have to dig about in the under-stairs cupboard to take a meter reading, but that's the only real benefit I can see.

In reality most people have limited scope for significantly reducing their electricity consumption unless they pointlessly leave everything turned on, and they clearly are not that bothered if they've not done the obvious.

We've changed all the bulbs we can for LEDs, don't leave kit on when it's not used, and so on. I can't really see what else we can do. It's not as if I can heat the oven more efficiently.

Even standby modes on modern kit is much better than it used to be.

The silly amounts spent on this project could have gone on the solar feed in tarriff for a few more years and had far more effect on our energy supply.

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Florida Man's prized jeep cremated by exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Paul 25

Re: Unusual dog

May not be a guide dog but could be for some other disability.

Dogs are being used more and more to help people, from detecting epileptic fits before they happen to helping people with mobility problems.

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Paul 25

I only know because I read the reg

and other specialist tech websites.

The recall was only a couple of days ago.

It seems perfectly reasonable to not know about a product recall. It's not as if it was on the front pages of the papers (that I've seen).

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London's 'automatic' Tube trains suffered 750 computer failures last year

Paul 25

Re: Wrong conclusion

I've just realised I can't do maths today, 750 is of course just over 2 per day...

Need. More. Coffee.

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Paul 25

Wrong conclusion

The idea that automatic trains are bad or unreliable isn't the correct conclusion here.

It's that *this* system is (possibly) unreliable. Although 750 is less than two per day on (one of?) the worlds busiest and most complex underground railways, so I'm curious if this actually constitutes a "big number" compared with other failures and other networks.

As a counterpoint, the Singapore underground system is fully automated, and from what I understand is very reliable.

One of the problems with the UK is we tend to look at a failing system (education being the classic) and assume that all the problems are inherent to the system, rather than down to a poor implementation, and so we chuck it all away and bring in something new. Because we all know that the best way to fix something is to completely change it every few years...

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Theft of twenty-somethings' IDs surges

Paul 25

Also, lets put the numbers in context of the population

Using the 2011 UK census, assuming we only count people aged 20-29 then the number of 24000 cases is about one in 350 young people. It's actually fewer because the population has almost certainly grown since then.

If we include those aged 15-19 then it's less than 1 in 500 young people who will be affected.

Not claiming this is a good number, but as any listener of Radio 4's More or Less should know, the first question you ask is "is that actually a big number?".

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Paul 25

For context, how much has the rate increased for those over 30?

Quoting statistics our of context is pretty much the main way to lie with them.

Without a comparison figure these increases tell us absolutely nothing other than fraud is increasing. I would be surprised if the rate of older people being defrauded over the phone or via email wasn't increasing at a similar rate.

I say this as someone who is well over the age range and is therefore quite happy to feel superior if it's warranted.

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London Mayor election day bug forced staff to query vote DB by hand

Paul 25

WAT?!

How is this software not tested to within an inch of its life?

"Counting up the votes" seems like the most fundamental feature of the software, for that to not work reliably really does cast doubt on the abilities of the company in question.

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Brits don't want their homes to be 'tech-tastic'

Paul 25

Re: Very little to tempt

I think you're bang on about much of the tech just not being anywhere near good enough to be truly useful. I'd get a robot vacuum cleaner as soon as the damn thing can get over the various thresholds in our house and can tidy away my toddler's toys. Until then the amount of work that I'd need to do to make it work would wipe out most of the benefit.

A robot lawn mower would be nice if we had a much, much bigger lawn, but frankly the 30 minutes every few weeks it takes to do ours is not worth a grand plus all the hassle of an automated one.

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Paul 25

Unsurprised

No. Shit. Sherlock.

Most IoT things are solutions looking for a problem, and most seem to make life more not less convenient.

I mean, where's the inconvenience of turning on a light, or using a small piece of metal to open your front door? Perhaps if your house is absolutely massive or you regularly forget to lock your door when leaving the house?

I have a Hive, which is great, but only because it's the first thermostat I've had that I can re-program without having to get the damn manual out every time, and being able to put it in holiday mode remotely after forgetting to do it before you leave. Other than that it pretty much just works as a thermostat, it doesn't try to be too clever, which I like.

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Sneaky Google KOs 'right to be forgotten' from search results

Paul 25
WTF?

Never has El Reg down as tinfoil hat wearers.

Searching for [right to be forgotten "data processing business"] returns 74 million results.

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Computer Science grads still finding it hard to get a job

Paul 25

I'd like to see a more detailed comparison

One of the differences between CS and the pure sciences is that if you want to put on a science or hard engineering course you will need expensive labs, associated technicians, and supplies. Any institution with a computer room can run a CS course.

This shows. I recently interviewed a grad who had done a CS-lite course at one of the low tier universities, and the poor kid could barely code, with huge gaps in his knowledge. I really felt sorry for him, as far as I'm concerned he was ripped off. I could code better before I went to university than he could after three years.

I would like to see a comparison of employability of CS grads taking into account the institutions they come from. I suspect we might see the difference narrow when you just include the better institutions.

The comparison with the other STEM subjects is also instructive regarding what CS courses don't teach, which is the practical craft of programming. If you do a science or hard engineering degree you will be taught how to conduct experiments, record your results, keeps notes, how to use the lab equipment, how to actually do the practical side of your subject as well as the theory. These things are taught all through your course. When you graduate you would at least expect to have enough skills to get you started in a commercial lab.

The equivalent skills in CS, like how to use source/version control, test your code, work in team environments, document your code properly (not an academic project writeup), these seem to be rarely taught in CS courses, and if they are they are done as a one off, when they need to be woven into the entire course (e.g. submitting coursework through the source control system, with complete version history and test set).

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LIGO boffins set to reveal grav-wave corker

Paul 25

Re: a geodesic past the media

The BICEP2 team were just as much to blame. They even staged a video where they went to tell Andrei Linde about their discovery.

Yes, journalists get the bit between their teeth and tend to gloss over a lot of stuff, but the BICEP2 team screwed up badly by over-hyping what they had before it had been checked.

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Paul 25
Thumb Up

I'm glad to see they are taking their time.

After the fiasco with the BICEP2 team a couple of years ago it's nice to see a science project taking their time to make sure the data is right and the conclusions are sounds.

Fundamental science doesn't need hyperbolic announcements, it needs a measured and careful approach to announcing findings with lots of cross-checking, otherwise they end up looking stupid.

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BT boss: If Ofcom backs us, we promise to speed up UK broadband

Paul 25

Take the NATS model perhaps?

While NATS is not a perfect example, it's ownership model is interesting as an alternatuive to the NEtwork Rail approach of total government ownership.

While the government owns the golden share (so retains control and preventing a selloff), about 45% of NATS is (last I heard) owned by a group of the major airlines. Effectively its customers are also its owners.

Make OpenReach a company owned (at least to a large degree) by all the major ISPs, break the old link the BT once and for all, make its owners its customers, and OFCOM acting as arms reach regulator.

That way companies like Virgin and Sky along with the government can actually invest in the infrastructure directly in a way that they can't really at the moment.

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Three VoLTEs to victory as it jumps into UK 4G voice offering

Paul 25

So is the difference in quality "dramatic" or "marginal"?

That whole paragraph makes no sense.

3
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Plods waste millions keeping their arses covered and ears open

Paul 25

Re: Not this perennial nonsense again

I wondered about that too.

Different forces have different needs and requirements, the idea that one radio is necessarily right for all of them may not be right (I don't know if it is, but is seems possible).

Also, are the cheap radios actually good value? Perhaps the more expensive ones wer harder waring and less likely to break down and the plod in Yorkshire did a lifetime TCO calculation that meant spending more on the hardware was worth it over the long run.

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7/7 memories: I was on a helpdesk that day and one of my users died

Paul 25

In a checkin queue at LAX

I was flying back from a trekking holiday in California that day. We were all standing in the checkin queue reading the papers, which were all about how London had got the Olympics. We found out what had happened from an Aussie family behind us in the queue. I think we spent the rest of the time at the airport trying to get in contact with friends in London, but of course texts were taking forever to get through and I didn't get replies from most of them until we landed. One of them had a lucky escape by getting an earlier train than usual.

It felt like the opposite of 9/11, where we watched everything happen in horrific realtime. On 7/7 it was just bits and scraps of information trickling out. Thankfully all my friends were fine, although one would have probably been on one of the tube trains if he hadn't changed his routine that day. So very lucky.

1
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Bill Nye's bonkers LightSail spaceship unfurls solar sails at last

Paul 25

Re: Changing direction...

I assume the idea is to use trajectories that combine the push outwards from the sun with gravitational slingshots from other planets. Although I am nowhere near good enough at maths to know how you might do something like that.

So kind of like combining the wind with currents on the ocean? (I'm not a sailor so that analogy might be bollocks)

2
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So why the hell didn't quantitative easing produce HUGE inflation?

Paul 25

Re: Tons of inflation

The Mars bar was reduced in size in 2008, not sure you can blame that on QE.

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Paul 25

Likewise, thanks Tim

Likewise, thanks for a very clear and concise explanation of something that the mainstream press have largely glossed over. I despair of the major media's inability to explain, even in general terms, what's going on with things like QE

I always like a good TW post. Even when I am in disagreement with Tim about some aspect of politics, I still get to learn something.

It's also nice to read stuff by someone who is happy to accept that you can disagree with someone without them been 100% wrong or having no insight worth listening to.

Sadly being a leftie in the UK at the moment can be hard work. Any suggestion that someone's sacred cow might be nonsense, or that some highly simplistic view of a complex problem might be wrong gets you shouted down.

It's all a bit too "People's Front of Judea" over here on the left at the moment :/

14
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Naked cyclists take a hard line on 'aroused' protest participant

Paul 25

Same with women's bodies

Massive poster of a woman wearing pretty much nothing, not much complaint (on the grounds of prudishness, sexisms another issue)

Show her nipples even partly, and prepare for mass outrage.

Man's nipples, not a problem. Women's nipples? Massive issue.

Our attitude to the human body is really, really weird.

And as others have pointed out, an erection is not something that's under conscious control, it isn't a muscle, as every man who's had a "morning glory" as a result of waking up with a full bladder can attest to.

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Spooks BUSTED: 27,000 profiles reveal new intel ops, home addresses

Paul 25

Re: eye of the beholder

He's a Theil Fellow, so college/uni age - http://www.thielfellowship.org/author/mcmcgrath/

Kudos to him. I can't imagine myself having done something like that at his age.

3
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Google versus the EU: Sigh. You can't exploit a contestable monopoly

Paul 25

Dropbox not turning up if you search for Cloud Storage is a bad example.

The Dropbox front page includes neither of the words "cloud" or "storage". Likewise OneDrive has no mention of the word cloud and only one of storage.

The fact that Google returns Dropbox at all if you search for "cloud storage" demonstrates how good it is at extrapolating what a site is about even if that site doesn't mention it at all.

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Health apps and wearables make you nervous, not fit, say boffins

Paul 25

Re: But...

I think the key is to know why you are tracking what you track. It's like performance tuning, you need to know what to measure and what to ignore.

If you are tracking it with a specific aim in mind then it can be very useful, but otherwise it just becomes background noise, and for the otherwise fit and healthy I definitely think it could be paranoia inducing.

I am losing weight, slowly, through simple calorie control and exercise. For that I constantly track my calories in and exercise, and measure my weight and body fat daily*, plotting a rolling average.

Each of the things I'm tracking is for a reason, either there's a target/limit to aim for (calories in/out) or it's a measure of progress (weight/fat %). I measure calories in because a lifetime in an overeating family screws with your sense of what a reasonable meal is, so you have to retrain your brain.

I used to wear a FitBit and use MyFitness Pal, but I found the passive nature of the data collection less useful than actively having to work it all out and record it myself. Because it required so little effort it didn't register as much consciously. Somehow having to work out the calories in a meal by hand and enter it myself seems to register more in my brain and is much more likely to make me stop eating.

Measurement is all well and good, but you have to know what you are measuring, what it means, and more importantly, what it doesn't. It's one of the reasons I plot a rolling average, it's the long term trend that matters, not the day to day weight.

* I know the number from a domestic body fat scale is dubious, but it's the change that's important)

7
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Elon Musk plans to plonk urban Hyperloop subsonic tube on California

Paul 25

Pretty certain HTT is not Musk's company

It's based on his hyperloop idea, but HTT is not his company.

0
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Kickstarter folk pay $8 MEELLION for joys of EXPLODING KITTENS

Paul 25

Might actually stand a chance of delivering

I've pre-ordered EK, we've been playing a lot more board and card games recently and this looks like a bit of silly fun.

Unlike a lot of other kickstarter projects I expect the EK team to be able to deliver, it's a simple enough product being made by people who actually do this kind of thing for a living (I believe two are professional games designers) with help and advice from the Cards Against Humanity people. There are plenty of manufacturers who can make decks of cards and a box to put them in.

Far too many crowd funded products are complex electronic gadgets being made by people with a bright idea but who don't understand the problems of industrial design, manufacturing and scaling production.

4
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Inside GOV.UK: 'CHAOS' and 'NIGHTMARE' as trendy Cabinet Office wrecked govt websites

Paul 25

Interesting counterpoint to all the koolaid

Working in the web industry I see GDS frequently get held up as a paragon of how to "do it right", interesting to see the other side from time to time.

It's depressing that arrogance and hubris still seems to be the major issue in so many so called revolutions like this. So often, in complex domains, the new kids ignore the old guard and end up reaping the result, missing essential information and processes because of a focus on the wrong users. It's not just government, we've seen it time and again in the corporate world where some new management team comes in and shakes things up, thinking they know best.

It's a shame really as I think the original idea, to bring all this stuff together in one place, with one system, is still fundamentally sound, but GDS clearly got carried away and underestimated the complexity of the domain.

I quite like what I've seen of gov.uk, but I have pretty simple interactions with it, so it's easy to miss what's not there if you are not looking for it.

14
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It's not easy being Green. But WHY insist we knit our own ties?

Paul 25

Re: Let me get this right:

Only if there isn't something else you'd rather be doing with your time? Value isn't just (or even mostly) about money.

I enjoy making bread (all that kneading is very thereputic), but I value time spent with my five month old son far more than I would value that time making bread at the moment. Paying someone else to make a loaf of bread is excellent value for me, even if it's more than if I'd made it myself.

It's all tradeoffs. My wife enjoys making jam sometimes. But oddly enough she too values her time a little differently now we have a lot less of it free (in both senses).

6
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RM has been schooled: Sales fell by over £69m in fiscal 2014

Paul 25

Re: Hardly surprising

Cor, you needed that rant didn't you? :)

I only experienced RM as a student, or helping out my mum's village primary, but even I knew they were crap.

I was pretty stunned to discover they were still around. I think the LEA lockins they did were a big part of it. I wonder if the switch to academies has has screwed them by freeing schools from that kind of thing?

6
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AWS adds multi-account support to control freak console

Paul 25

Re: really?

Yeah, a link would be much appreciated.

I'd also like to know if this includes IAM accounts or if it's limited to the root accounts. We are pretty strict about only using the root account to set things up initially and then each dev has an IAM account.

0
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HORRIFIED Amazon retailers fear GOING BUST after 1p pricing cockup

Paul 25

Re: GCSE Computing still a joke????

In this case many of these businesses had orders fulfilled by Amazon, from their warehouses.

So the businesses didn't get the chance to sanity check the orders before Amazon automatically shipped them, at which point it's too late for the seller to cancel.

However my sympathy is pretty limited, if you put control of almost every aspect of your business in other people's hands, from pricing to fulfilment, you should be aware of the risks.

This reminds me of all those companies that had really good Groupon offers with no restrictions and found themselves swamped with orders for loss-making deals.

8
2

Cambridge Assessment exams CHAOS: Computing students' work may be BINNED

Paul 25

Re: GCSE Computing still a joke????

Likewise.

I'm somewhat older than you but I made the mistake of doing the A-Level computing course, total waste of time. I'd have been much better off taking double maths or english.

However blaming the teachers is a bit unfair*, successive governments have made the school curriculum ever more proscriptive, leaving little room for teachers to teach what they think is interesting. Of course that doesn't stop those same governments from blaming teachers for "failing to inspire" while trying to teach such an insipid syllabus.

5
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Virgin Media's blighted SuperHub NOW comes with extra squeal (oink)

Paul 25

Their engineers hate the NotSoSuperHub

I had some issues with my cable service recently. Both engineers who came out to sort it (both excellent), we quite surprised that not only was my super hub not the cause of my problems. but that I didn't have any issues at all with it.

Both said that the SH accounted for at least 50% of their callouts, normally due to its woeful WiFi performance in many older houses (which we have a lot of here in Bath). I seemed to be unusual in having a good signal.

They need to ditch and replace them all ASAP, it must be costing them a fortune in callouts and helpdesk time, and it ruining what is (at least for me) an otherwise excellent service.

3
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Happy 30th Birthday, Sinclair ZX Spectrum

Paul 25

Thanks for everything Clive

And thanks for the nostalgia El Reg :)

I was 3 when the Speccy was released, and between that and a +2A (basically the +3 but with a tape deck), it laid the foundations for who I am today.

I think it's pretty hard to overstate the impact that it had on making me the person, and the developer I am today.

And I still think BASIC is underrated as a beginner's programming language. Nothing teaches you the benefits of structured programming, functions, packages, objects, sophisticated types etc, than not having any of those.

Having GOSUB as your most sophisticated programming feature really makes you appreciate modern languages :)

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