* Posts by John 73

57 posts • joined 14 Jul 2009


Good luck deleting someone's private info from a trained neural network – it's likely to bork the whole thing

John 73

Re: Why use personal data to train AI?

Many, many use cases require PII - trying to link sexuality to facial features, criminality to home addresses, medical history to insurance premiums... Sure, they're a Bad Idea, but they're out there.

Go fourth and multi-Pi: Raspberry Pi 4 lands today with quad 1.5GHz Arm Cortex-A72 CPU cores, up to 4GB RAM...

John 73

Re: Pi-top

It won't - it uses the HDMI connector to connect its screen. Plus, if the CPU is in a slightly different position, the heatsink connection wouldn't work. But it shouldn't be *that* hard for them to produce a new bridge for the new configuration. The extra RAM would definitely be helpful because their Polaris OS is a lot hungrier than basic Raspbian - I swapped mine over to vanilla Raspbian for various reasons but mostly that RAM issue, and it's a lot happier.

What a smashing time, cheer astroboffins: Epic exoplanet space prang evidence eyeballed

John 73

Some mistake, shurely?

"Kepler 107c could have been born when two exoplanets ten times the mass of the Sun crashed into one another"

Planets that are 10 times the mass of our Sun? Mind-blowing if that's correct, but from context I suspect it should be "ten times the mass of the Earth"...

Do you feel 'lucky', well, do you, punk? Google faces down magic button patent claim

John 73

Re: Yiddish?

Absolutely - this was a very jarring usage with no place in an august organ like the Reg (the pejorative overtones of its use in this way should be obvious). The official language of Israel is Hebrew. I'm sure this was just carelessness, but it's not a great look.

(I'm neither Jewish nor Israeli, BTW, just someone who cares about how words are used.)

National ID cards might not mean much when up against incompetence of the UK Home Office

John 73

Missing an important point

Comments so far seem to be missing an important point. Aside from the fact that ID cards solve the opposite problem (as other commenters have said, Windrush was all about over-strict demands for ID), imposing ID cards would merely deny healthcare etc. to more people (mostly poor, immigrant or otherwise vulnerable). This is because these groups are less able to get through the system even when fully entitled - or less informed about the need, or have bigger issues at any given time like finding food. Any ID system that is used to prove eligibility for basic services but that doesn't take into account the fact that those most in need of those services are also those least likely to have the relevant ID, is fundamentally flawed.

Much-hyped Ara Blackphone LeEco Essential handset introduced

John 73


Did anyone else look at the picture and wonder about the screen? It seems to go right to the top of the device, and actually has a cutout for the camera. Now *that* could be innovative. Or crap, of course!

Amazon tweaks so-called 'assisted suicide' publishing contracts to ink EU deal

John 73

Legally binding...

These aren't just voluntary pledges on Amazon's part, BTW, they're legally binding. "If Amazon were to breach the commitments, the Commission could impose a fine of up to 10% of Amazon's total annual turnover, without having to find a violation of the EU competition rules" (from http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-1223_en.htm).

Engine warning light appears on Uber's $100m driver settlement

John 73

Re: Labor protection laws in the the US?!

Kind of the point - even *US* labour laws have limits, and Uber seems to have exceeded them!

Irish mum coughs to children's allowance fiddle

John 73
IT Angle

Tenuous. Very tenuous!

Thought I was reading the Daily Fail for minute, there!

Web Summit looks at new homes ... this time with sun and decent Wi-Fi

John 73

"Dublin hoteliers may already have killed the goose that laid the golden eggs, with attendees last year complaining that hotels had cynically raising prices by up to 500 per cent for the days of the summit."

So that will be bog-standard economics in action, then? Increase demand for a constant supply, and the price will go up. Anyone familiar with other popular trade shows and conferences will have seen the same effect everywhere (except places like New York, where the almost-constant supply of such shows means that prices are high all the time!).

German court slaps down Uber's ride-sharing app

John 73

Uber arrogance again

Love the line that this is "a fundamental infringement of our ability under European law to establish and provide a service". Someone needs to remind arrogant Silicon-Valley types that there is NO right to establish and provide a service! It's a privilege to be able to do so, earned by creating and delivering value in line with the best interests of your customer (not yourself). (And I say this as a startup founder and CEO myself.)

While bureaucratic caution can cause all sorts of problems, these ride-sharing services seem like ticking time bombs to me. There's a reason that taxis were traditionally licensed in most countries and cities: it makes it safer for the customer.

How to strip pesky copyright watermarks from photos ... says a FACEBOOK photo bod

John 73

Re: As far as I am concerned

"If the image is of me and I am alone in that image I am the copyright owner."

Then you don't understand copyright. The photographer has copyright because it's their creative work that is embodied in the photo - the composition, selection and general artistry in getting a good photo.

You're quite correct, however, in the second assertion, that permission should be requested from the model. 'Model rights' are a real thing as well, and you similarly can't just grab an image of someone and use it for your own purposes, even if the photographer has placed the image in the public domain. Think how all those famous people would react if that was the case (being used in adverts etc.).

There are some blatant abuses of the various forms of IP, but just declaring that 'information should be free' doesn't actually address any of the very real issues that its defenders are concerned about. Or would all you software writers be happy for your code to be stolen with impunity?

Amazon, Hollywood, Samsung: PLEASE get excited about 4K telly

John 73

Re: Can anyone tell the difference?

Thanks for that but it was a different article from longer ago, specifically about whether 1080p and 720p were visually distinguishable. Not sure it was an El Reg piece, as I say!

John 73

Can anyone tell the difference?

ISTR reading an article (may even have been on this august site) back when HD tellies were just going mainstream, saying that the human eye simply can't see the difference between 1080p and 720p on a TV smaller than 36" when sat six feet away.

On that basis, there's going to be remarkably little point getting a 4k telly unless you've got the 105" monster in your living room!

Oh, shoppin’ HELL: I’m in the supermarket of the DAMNED

John 73

Waitrose FTW

Waitrose does the self-serve thing properly. You get your own scanner, which you carry round the shop and merrily scan each item as you buy it. At the end, you swipe your card and it downloads the info from the handheld scanner and Bob's your uncle. Very rarely has any problems, and no stupid 'bagging area' required. (You can put stuff straight into your own bag as you shop, which is great.)

Chrome, Firefox blab your passwords in a just few clicks: Shrug, wary or kill?

John 73

Users aren't the real problem

What woke me up to the real problem was installing LastPass. It could slurp all the passwords I'd stored in Firefox (usernames and passwords, indeed) and import them. Indeed, it actually makes this point explicitly during the installation - if LastPass can do this as a normal extension, so could any other extension.

Your passwords are not secure stored in any of the main browsers, whether from other users or from malicious code. The only answer is to remember all your passwords yourself (unlikely for most of us), use LastPass/OnePass/whatever service to store them, or use a local secure keyring if your browser will play nicely with it.

DARPA looks for a guided bullet with DEAD reckoning navigation

John 73

Re: Inertial? no way -"Still, it would be WAY better to have that for a grenade launcher."

You have rather missed ribosome's point, it appears.

Researchers find cloud storage apps leave files on smartphones

John 73

That's how they're supposed to work

Bizarre 'research'. The point of cloud-sync apps is absolutely NOT to place all files on the server and never to have them on the device. Rather, it's to use the server as a way to ensure that the same files are available on all devices.

So, for example, I use Dropbox precisely to ensure that I can have local copies of files on my phone/tablet/desktop. If they weren't on the device, what use would they be to me?

Now, it could be that a 'securely remove from this device' function would be a useful addition to these services, but none claims to offer this AFAIK.

Publishers pony up $69m in ebook price-fixing settlement

John 73

Learn something before speaking

In a vain attempt to forestall the usual freetard comments, I'll repeat what many seem to be unwilling to remember - less than a quarter of the total cost of publishing a book is spent on manufacturing and distribution of the physical product. That's true across the industry, and in some areas it's considerably less than that (scale having its benefits).

Add in the significant cost of formatting the text for all the various devices (which is a lot harder than you'd think if you've never tried) as well as the VAT issue, and there is genuinely very little room for savings in ebooks.

And for those who accuse publishing of excessive profiteering, you've clearly never actually looked at the results of most publishing companies. If we wanted massive profits, we'd be in a different industry - software, perhaps!

Canon PowerShot G1 X compact camera

John 73

As a recent CSC purchaser...

...I say No to the final question in the article. One big reason is that compacts with the quality of CSCs seem to be more expensive than the CSCs for some reason. Also, even as a beginner, being able to select a brighter pancake lens instead of the zoom means I can take photos I wouldn't otherwise be able to.

As ever, it's horses for courses and I suspect that the (no longer very) new formats will at the very least force manufacturers to think more creatively about what they offer customers.

Navigation app CoPilot Live goes freemium next month

John 73

Good satnav but what about keyboard support?

I use this on the occasional days I need satnav, and CoPilot does the job well, guiding me to my destination with minimum fuss. It's also quick to find routes and to re-route when I stray from its wishes.

However, it has one glaring flaw that never fails to irritate: it doesn't support any keyboard but the built-in Android one. Try using another keyboard (like something that supports predictive text entry) and it just fails. Instead of using Android's own text fields, it's implemented its own (presumably for cross-platform reasons) that don't handle changes well at all. To enter data, one has to leave the app, change input method, go back to the app, enter your destination and then (of course) reset your keyboard to the normal one. There's no good reason for this, especially after all this time. Sort it out, ALK!

Rumoured 'GarageBand for e-books' to bulldoze textbook biz

John 73

"The problem is that they want the same price as the print editions"

Don't forget that manufacture and distribution account for <20% of the sale price of a textbook. When you take into account the fact that print books are VAT free and ebooks aren't (in most territories), the price differential is actually pretty small - unless you expect publishers to take less revenue from digital simply because it's digital rather than because it's cheaper to produce (which it isn't by very much).

John 73

Yeah, right

Well I work in educational publishing and those commenters were right on the mark. What is crucial in education is not the format but the content. Creating "Garageband for ebooks" doesn't even address the hard problem of generating high-quality, pedagogically useful, relevant and appealing content for the classroom. At best, it will help teachers to distribute their own material in nicer format. Which may be valuable but is hardly 'disruptive' to the educational publishing business.

In other words, once again we (may!) have a tech company looking only at the technological portion of a problem and failing to grasp the larger picture.


John 73

Used it, but eventually moved on

I used MailDroid for a while and it's pretty good, certainly better than K-9 (despite having an even worse icon!). But eventually I moved on because MD just filled me with Meh. I was never really sure why, but I suspect it was partly because of its ridiculous price (£10!).

These days, I just use the stock mailers on my Samsung Galaxy S2 (which is OK apart from an irritating lack of long-press menus) and my Transformer tab. :-/

WHSmith launches e-book reader rivals to Amazon Kindle

John 73


WHS have been listing the Touch for a while (and have been selling the older model for even longer) but so far they've listed the price as £179, which is way too high. The Kobo's a nice reader, but it's $125 in the USA. If they start selling it at £110, they've got an excellent chance. Glad to see Kobo finally launch the Touch over here. I've been waiting for it for months!

Got a non-iPad tablet? Weirdo

John 73

Or, to put it another way

Android has a 27% share of the tablet market. (Assuming Windows is negiligible, which can't be far off the truth.)

That's actually pretty good IMO. Indeed, it's rather better than I'd thought it might be. My family has one of each (iPad for the wife, Asus Transformer for me) and each has its merits. And a decent fight between platforms can only be good for consumers - as long as they compete on features and price rather than patents...

HTC outs 'Mango' WinPho 7 smartphones

John 73

4.7", seriously?

Now that's a BIG phone. At least companies selling 5" Android devices have the courtesy to balk at calling them phones.

Sony Android tablets in-bound

John 73

What makes you think it'll cost that little?

This being Sony, after all, I'd expect them to be a lot more. The P in particular is complex and small, which means expensive.

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet goes on sale

John 73

Widescreen is better

I've said this before, but widescreen is actually better for business. I've got both an iPad and an Eee Transformer, and I've used both for work.

A4 docs don't fit on an iPad's screen nicely. Most docs are portrait, and in portrait mode, the iPad has large black bars down the sides of A4 docs at full page view; it's even worse when apps have toolbars. On the Eee, by contrast, a portrait doc fills the full width of the screen and still just leaves space for toolbars top or bottom. In other words, A4 portrait docs (which is the majority of business docs) are much more readable on the Eee than on the iPad without resorting to zooming and panning (which is a pain).

HP TouchPad 32GB WebOS tablet

John 73

16:9 is better

I wonder whether the people who disdain 16:9 tablets have actually used one. To be fair, I wasn't sure before I got my Asus Eee Transformer, but there's one big reason that 16:9 is better than 4:3 - it's closer to the aspect ratio of A4 paper.

When I'm using my tablet at work, I'm often looking at PDFs or Word files, and holding it in portrait orientation means that the A4 page is fully visible, with space for the toolbars above and below. When you try that on an iPad, you end up with letterboxing or cropping.

That's right - for real work, 16:9 is better.

And I'm not convinced by the aesthetic argument either. 4:3 just means there's less difference between the two orientations - and hence less point rotating it. With a 16:9 tablet, there's a real difference between the two modes, and each has its uses.

Segway death blamed on good manners

John 73

Fun, though

Segways are great fun, though. Rode on one at Thetford Forest a couple of months ago and I can really see the appeal.

ITV player streams onto Android

John 73


I can't even see it on the Market. :-/

Survey shows slab-fondlers are loving their iPads

John 73

Email apps

Given that email and web browsing are such important uses for fondleslabs (love that term!), I'm perpetually amazed at how useless the iPad mail client it. The simple lack of a "Select all" option makes such a difference. Google's mail for tablets is a lot better but still lacks features compared with proper mail clients.

Of course, most of these folk are probably using webmail, which works just as well on any browser. Mostly. My personal greatest annoyance is that Lotus Notes (which my company uses) refuses to work at all on the Android tablet browser ("Your browser is not supported"), and offers up only its Lite version on the iPad, which is designed for phones, not tablets.

By all means, offer us what you think will work, but let us make the choice. Just because you haven't heard of our browser doesn't mean it won't work.

Motorola Xoom

John 73
Thumb Up

Not Xoom, but try Asus Transformer

The Asus EeePad Transformer is both cheaper than the Xoom and (in some ways, at least) better. If you buy the keyboard dock (a primary reason to opt for this tablet), you'll be able to plug your mass-storage camera into the full USB slot on the keyboard and access it like any other USB drive.

I can't speak to the movie editing because I've not tried.

John 73
Thumb Up


And very slick Honeycomb is, too, on whichever tab. you're using. (Mine's an Asus Transformer.)

Asus Eee Pad tablet-cum-netbook ship date slips

John 73


Many thanks, Dave. Now to try and find the tablet itself in stock somewhere... :-)

John 73

No keyboard docks...

I looked on Comet, and they're listing the keyboard bundle as "discontinued"!

Looks like it may be a supply issue on the keyboard, though. How much was it as a separate item?

And how are you liking the tablet part?

John 73


I just got that email. How can Asus change the release date by 6 weeks, only 4 days before it's supposed to be on sale? Bastards.

Shades of Duke Nukem...

iPhone morphs into pinball machine

John 73
Thumb Up

Ob. BTTF reference!

Just introduced my son to those films. Excellent stuff - Spielberg at his finest. :-)

Catch Notes

John 73


Seems to provide less functionality for more money than Diigo. I've been using their PowerNote app on Android and it's pretty good, plus you get the bookmarking and sharing features of the web platform. Their iOS app isn't as good, which is interesting, but it does exist.

Sony readies Reader e-book app for iPhone

John 73

Whose fault?

"Waterstone's regularly charges more than the hardback price for an eBook which no matter how you look at it, just seems bizarre."

Absolutely right. I find this bizarre, too, but remember that retailers have different levels of control over the pricing of print and ebooks. It may be that they discount the print but can't discount the ebook, leading to odd disparities.

But notice here that the disparity is not the publisher's fault, as many seem to assume. Rather, it's a result of the _retailers_ manipulating prices.

"And they never try to match Amazon."

No, but they don't do that for print, either. They're different businesses. Big surprise.

John 73


This idea that most of the costs in publishing are in manufacture is just ignorant and wrong. It's been put about for years by those with an agenda to push, and been debunked just as often by those who actually work in the industry.

It's pretty obvious - few industries could cope with manufacturing costs that were 80% of the retail price, and publishing is no exception. Generally, manufacturing, distribution etc. make up less than 30% of the retail price. That's why most publishers list ebooks from 30% of print price.

But don't forget that ebooks are liable to VAT, which print isn't. That pushes the price back up again.

Unless you want for some reason to suggest that publishers ought to make less money from ebooks than print? And that sounds like an agenda rather than sound business to me.

(I work in publishing, in case you hadn't noticed, and this isn't a rant at the specific commenter. I just get annoyed by this idea that, just because there's no physical product, ebooks ought to be almost free.)

Sophos debuts freebie antivirus scanner for Macs

John 73


I'm sure this will be news to all those Mac users who've been running the free antivirus package ClamXAV for years!

Sony Reader PRS-350 Pocket Edition

John 73

Sony vs Kindle

Sure, this is more expensive than the cheap Kindle but it's got a touchscreen. On pure tech terms, the user needs to choose which is most useful to them - touch or wireless. (Plus, this device is smaller than the Kindle because it doesn't have that stupid keyboard. How often do you really need to use a keyboard when reading?)

For me, though, it's the EPUB support that's the killer. If you buy the Kindle, you're locked into Amazon's closed ebook world. If you buy Sony (or BeBook or most others), you're in the wider world of standard formats and a proper market. Adept DRM is rubbish, but it's unfortunately the reality at present for many commercial ebooks, and dissing the Sony because of it's rather unfair when you conside that the Kindle is locked down even harder.

Danube sludge peril: Brown trouser time or not?

John 73

Resource consumption

"Which brings us to a point economists keep trying to tell environmentalists: humans don't consume resources, humans create resources by inventing the technologies to make use of them."

This is, of course, nonsense. Humans and all other living things clearly do consume resources (unless we think that, say, the amount of iron ore in the earth is infinite). The point is, rather, that the definition of "resource" changes with time depending on the available (and economically viable) technology that is available.

All human activity (with a very few exceptions) simply changes the form of the matter of this planet to greater or lesser extents, rather than creating or destroying it. But that change can make the 'resource' involved siginificantly less available to those who follow.

Facebook unveils changes to enhance privacy

John 73

Ironic given this week's top FB story

This is rather an ironic announcement given the fuss this week about Facebook uploading phone numbers of all contacts from users of their iOS (and possibly Android) apps and making those available to all and sundry.


Oracle sues Google over Java in Android

John 73

Patents != copyright

Just because Java is Open Source doesn't mean that it can't be patent encumbered.

Tesla Motors: Elon Musk's divorce won't sink us

John 73

It's an SEC filing, remember

Don't forget, companies have to be as pessimistic as possible in SEC filings. They are legally obliged to say anything bad that might happen to damage their business, so that potential investors are aware of them. So lots of the concerns in the article are not the problem they might initially appear. Others, of course, are!

Also, the loss of capacity in the battery is hardly surprising. Indeed, losing only 40% of capacity in around 6 years (assuming fairly average mileage in the roadster) isn't that shabby. Compare that with laptop batteries!

Flat-pack plug designer wins top award

John 73
Thumb Down


Europlug is (a) low current and more importantly (b) has no Earth connection. How so many countries around the world have accepted unearthed mains connections I will never understand.

Sci-fi and fantasy authors wade into Amazon spat

John 73

Free market anyone?

What Amazon want to do isn't set prices, though - it's to dominate the market by artificially low prices. Is there anyone crying out for "fixed price" real books? Why should the ebook market be different?

What Amazon were trying to do, if you read the trade coverage, was to usurp the positions of publisher, wholesaler and retailer, and thereby to grab all the profit for themselves. Yes, they even wanted publishers to sign contracts that made Amazon a publisher themselves, with the right to create new editions etc. of the product! No wonder the trade rebelled.


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