* Posts by Sirius Lee

514 posts • joined 14 Dec 2009

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Total recog: British AI makes universal speech breakthrough

Sirius Lee

Adding languages is great but what is the quality of the translation like?

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We go live to the Uber-Waymo court battle... You are not going to believe this. The judge certainly doesn't

Sirius Lee

Re: So I have this idea to pitch to Netflix

Good one!

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Abolish the Telly Tax? Fat chance, say MPs at non-binding debate

Sirius Lee

Re: Threatogram received from Crapita today

"it's clear that the quality of content would plummet without the BBC"

The BBC is the 800lb gorilla the the UK sitting room. Other UK terrestrial TV companies have to find ways to entice advertisers while the BBC is stealing their ideas. Was the BBC the first to have a nightly soap opera? No. Was it the firs to have a dancing competition? No. But the BBC barges in and takes away viewers from commercial TV providers using our money to do so.

Is it any wonder the offerings of commercial TV providers is lack-lustre when they have to find a way to profitability with a state funded (we *are* the state) broadcaster in the sitting room? If they had more revenues they probably would provide a wider range and better quality of content.

Is it any wonder that the free view channels are stuffed with US content providers who do not need to compete with a state funded content provider.

Sure, have a public service broadcaster but have one that fills niches not occupied by commercial companies, such as Sky at Night or University Challenge, rather than steal other's good ideas. May be then we will have a wider choice of excellent content.

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Someone told Google to nuke links to mean reviews of disgraced telco True Telecom

Sirius Lee

Andrew O reports a ruling as it affects individual privacy. Companies are not individuals and so do not enjoy the benefits of human right legislation. Therefore, as I understand it, the ECJ ruling has no effect in this case. Other commenters have speculated on the reasons for Google's decision to remove the links.

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Nathan Barley blamed for global GDP slump

Sirius Lee

Correlation is not causation

There may be an association between the rise in the number of self-employed and UK productivity being stagnant. But economists ascribe this malaise to UK businesses not investing in productivity boosting tools and technologies. That is, making existing staff more productive.

The productivity issue has been hanging around the UK economy for well over a decade and for this reason alone, attributing it to the rise of the gig economy seems a bit of a stretch. Maybe even a little desperate.

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Look, ma! No hands! Waymo to test true self-driving cars in US with Uber-style hailing app

Sirius Lee

Re: The minimum requirements

Yes, let some idiot put on the brakes in the middle of a highway. No possibility of a catastrophe in that scenario then.

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Tesla hits Model 3 production speed bumps, slides to loss

Sirius Lee

Re: Layoffs

"Reportedly" from where? More questionable news? Even if accurate, the people overseeing the integration sub-contractor who only noticed the problem recently probably needed to be shown the door even if previous reviews were good. Hiding problems can make you seem good until you can't hide the problems any longer.

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Twitter: Why we silenced Rose McGowan after she slammed alleged sex pest Harvey Weinstein

Sirius Lee

Re: Sense of proportion

No wonder you posted anonymously. Twitter may be a toilet but this sort of comment is no better.

As the article points out, and you acknowledge, the offence was including a telephone number in a post (presumably not her own). It's not difficult to imagine who's telephone number she included. It's also not difficult for software to workout if a post contains a telephone number. No human moderators are required to identify a telephone number and send a note of it to a human to check.

How about a little less of the mindless conspiracy theory stuff.

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Dear America, best not share that password with your pals. Lots of love, the US Supremes

Sirius Lee

Re: What happens if...

What planet do you live on? Some Utopian world where nothing goes wrong? Or maybe you are one of those people who thinks they do nothing wrong. Of course its not that simple.

Your son or daughter is away at university and loses their credit card on a Friday evening and needs to pay a bill on Saturday morning or be evicted. If you have kids you will realize that kids don't plan. So you have your credit card couriered to them and tell them the PIN so they can withdraw cash to pay the bill. By your reckoning this is obvious breach of rules is punishable.

There are many, many scenarios when sharing details between close members is sometimes necessary.

In the specific case documented in the article it is clearly a crime since the person was stealing intellectual property so it is bewildering why the person was not prosecuted for this crime. This case is no different to a giving your front door key to a neighbor so they can feed to your cat only to find they've cleared out your house. What's the crime here? Giving the key or clearing out the house. The answer is obvious.

It's a sign of the times that the justice system cannot apply appropriate laws. In this case presumably because the prosecutors believed the possibility of a conviction for a computer crime is more likely than proving damages as a result of the theft of data.

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Concerns raised about privacy, GDPR as Lords peer over Data Protection Bill

Sirius Lee

Re: Confusing and unworkable

Also for VAT processing records must be retained for 10 years. A tax authority of any EU member state can request transaction details of any sales in that time frame. Those details must include the two non-conflicting pieces of evidence used to justify the rate of VAT applied to each sale. One is the person's billing address. For on-line sales another can be there IP address. These pieces of evidence cannot be deleted if a business is to comply with the EU VAT Directive (2005).

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Hitting 3 nanometers to cost chipmaker TSMC at least US$20 billion

Sirius Lee

Re: Well at 3nm it's a case of...

I have some doubts it will survive for more than 5-6 years

5-6 years may be considered sufficient for a CPU in a phone. Planned failure means there are going to be more customers in the future and will make the second hand market less attractive.

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1,000 jobs on the line at BAE Systems' Lancashire plants – reports

Sirius Lee

Re: How to solve Brexit.

What the are you folks on about? Does it get you off to conflate concepts? Do you think it advances the cause? It's 'Eurofighter' not 'EUfighter'. Britain, whether it is in the EU or not, will continue to be in Europe. And NATO.

Spain and Germany can choose to build their own fighter aircraft but what's the point? Germany has world leading businesses making cars not jets. Spain needs to find a way to provide millions of youth jobs not a few thousand jobs for skilled workers. France would love to build a jet for it's vision of an EU military force but it also needs to focus on creating jobs. Macron's suggestion of building an EU military force has not been welcomed with rapturous enthusiasm in other capitals especially in Berlin which knows its people would be picking up the bill and, as I mentioned, Germany builds cars.

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European Commission refers Ireland to court over failure to collect €13bn in tax from Apple

Sirius Lee

Re: @AC - "state aid" for Apple

2007 is the year the original iPhone was launched. So the deal was signed before Apple became the rich organization it is today and certainly negotiated long before unless the contention is that Ireland's tax authorities are so good they can whip out a complex tax deal overnight.

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MoD brainbox repo opens up IP treasure chest for world+dog

Sirius Lee

The US has DARPA - easy to say. DSTL not so much. How about: "Defence and Science Technology and Research Division Laboratory Incorporated" then the initials would be DASTARDLI. OK, too many 'and's but much better in my view and bit more Kingsman than civil service.

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A furious think-tank boss, Google, and an academic 'fired' for criticizing ads giant

Sirius Lee

Here the objective truth does not matter

An institution like the one run by AM Slaughter needs money and just because of this surely the leader needs to be be more subtle in their handling of matters like these; be much more aware of what the institution's position looks like from the outside.

Whatever are the objective facts of the case, they don't matter because it has been made too easy to position the institution and Google as an interfering bully. It didn't need to be this way. Google did not need to be so thin-skinned. Slaughter did not need to react in such a pejorative way. For example, the institution could have commissioned another article presenting a different side (assuming there is one). Mr Lynn might have objected and chosen to leave anyway.

It's hard for me to imagine that AM Slaughter will be in position in, say, 12 months from now because it seems to me her actions have put the institution in the position that it's integrity can be brought into doubt. Not that it's integrity *is* in doubt only that it can be construed that way.

One of the challenges of leadership is being willing to sacrifice, or at least refashion, past friendships when those friendships could compromise the leaders ability to represent the best interest of the organization they lead. Unless there is something the constitution of the institution that requires all it's output to be reviewed and is a transparent principle which funders can reasonably expect to be able to rely, it seems to me AM Slaughter has failed in a core responsibility of the role of CEO.

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UK infrastructure failing to meet the most basic cybersecurity standards

Sirius Lee

Must be true because...

There's money to had writing a report that concludes: "Everything is just fine.".

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Want to kill your IT security team? Put the top hacker in charge

Sirius Lee

Manifesto for the incompetent

I've heard this bollocks so often. So the proposal is not to promote the guy who has invested his time and effort becoming the expert an instead promote the person who spent their time in the bar socializing. No, No, No. That breeds mediocrity.

Of course if someone has no social skills whatever, putting them in a position where they are responsible for others is not going to work. But the idea that promoting the person with social skills IS the right solution contains its own fallacy. Managers are not just responsible for getting a competent performance out of the staff for which they have responsibility but also for allocating those resources. And you want the best IT smarts doing the allocation. The person who spent their time in the bar practising social skills instead of learning the business is not going to be best placed to make those calls.

So you might argue that a social manager will use their social skills to create a committee of their best staff to decide upon that allocation. Done, right? No. Because that manager then has to advocate their managers a position it is likely they are not intellectually capable of representing.

Big IT organisations have tackled this dilemma for decades and the right solution has never been to side step the expert unless that person wants to be side stepped. That is, get the person's buy in that they do not want a management career and instead offer them a fellowship career path.

Please, let's have none of this trite pseudo-management nonsense summarised in a few paragraphs when the real world solutions require years long courses of study - which the socialisers will not complete because they are in the bar 'practising' their social skills.

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Trump tramples US Constitution by blocking Twitter critics – lawsuit

Sirius Lee

Another ridiculous lawsuit

The consequences of this lawsuit succeeding could be terrible. The internet and platforms like Twitter are haunted by obsessives with, it seems, nothing better to do than trash talk anyone.

Presumably if blocking users on Twitter applies to the POTUS then is has to apply to everyone. At that point Twitter users are unable to block stalkers. Imagine any vulnerable group: women, kids, old folks, minorities not being able to block the views of those vehemently opposed to them or seeking to exploit them.

So which is worse? Some obsessives vehemently opposed to the current POTUS being blocked or allowing obsessive and potentially dangerous people to stalk and harass members of any vulnerable group. I know I'd opt to let the POTUS block whom ever he (or she) wants and, so, upset a few media savvy luvvies who will, anyway, be able to make themselves heard.

Of course some will say the solution is to only prevent the POTUS from blocking but that option brings with it a whole host of other constitutional problems.

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Ubuntu 'weaponised' to cure NHS of its addiction to Microsoft Windows

Sirius Lee

Oh, dear. The Linux desktop fantasists are out in force today. In this case the fantasised solution to not applying updates to Windows is to replace it with something that doesn't need forced updates.

There are many organizations in the world that have has years long efforts to displace Windows. El Reg has reported on the city of Munich which after trying to use Linux for years has reverted back to Windows.

If Linux were a silver bullet we would have been using it for years already. Its not. It has many significant problem when used in any context but especially in a desktop context. Linux kernel updates often require that applications are recompiled and Linus Torvalds has explicitly stated that backwards compatibility of the kernel is not ever on the card for Linux.

For a the relatively small number of servers managed by a dedicated group of support specialists this may be acceptable and required re-testing and re-certification of apps an acceptable cost. But for a large fleet of end user computing devices it certainly is not.

Plus it presumes that some group of hackers in Leeds has even the vaguest clue about the range of applications that are used across the NHS. The difficulties of implementing GP systems across the NHS should surely throw up some warning flags.

But, I suppose, the managers who will ultimately sanction the notion of replacing Windows with some relatively untried Linux-based solution are the ones who also permitted the use of un-patched Windows in the first place.

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French general accused of nicking fast jet for weekend trips to the Sun

Sirius Lee

Parly?

General Parly? Can we have a talk about that?

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

Sirius Lee

It's easy to apply the 'no jerks' rule once your business is up and running and jerks have created the technology you need to conduct business. Once the business is up and running you need the team players to keep the business rolling.

But when the business hits competition and the consensual culture supporting the current business model no longer works, as eventually it surely will, lets see if the consensual culture can adapt. History suggests that such a culture will not be able to change because there will be no consensus on the change required.

So an interpretation of this position by the management of Netflix is a statement to potential competitors that they are not in a position to meet radically new market challenges should such challenges arise.

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While Microsoft griped about NSA exploit stockpiles, it stockpiled patches: Friday's WinXP fix was built in February

Sirius Lee

Let me get this right

You are having a pop at Microsoft for not releasing a fix for a product that reached end-of-life over 3 years ago after a decade-long warning period? Really? You are so desperate to sh?t on Microsoft you want to cane them for not fixing a product that users should have stopped using in April 2014 and that should have been preparing for that change since 2005.

Surely its much better focusing your misguided ire on the lunacy of IT managers that disable Windows update or company bosses that are inflating profits by not investing enough on the maintenance of their IT infrastructure.

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Facebook is abusive. It's time to divorce it

Sirius Lee

Leaving is OK if you are ascocial

I'm not a joining or social type so I never did join Facebook. I don't have a profile. But that also means no knows me. Fortunately, I don't care. I'm not anti-social - that has connotations of being pathological. I'm asocial. I don't feel the need to be social so not having constant contact with friends and acquaintances is not an issue for me.

However, I do recognize that I am unusual. I suspect that few others, especially those in technical jobs where solitude even in a crowded office is a daily reality, could do without the instant contact Facebook offers. I think for many to know there are friends out there, people you can reach out to any time is a great comfort and not one most people can do away with.

Before Facebook I would receive the occasional email inviting me to some social event or another. Now events are only organized through Facebook so I'm not included. I don't mind as I find social situations stressful but most people are social creatures who need contact with other humans.

Withdrawing from Facebook means you will be out of the loop. Your withdrawal from Facebook will make you the awkward one. The one that does not listen. The one that makes it inconvenient for others. You will be the one causing the rubbing sore. Gradually you will not be invited because you left the club (and people really are tribal).

I agree with the author that Facebook is dangerous but for normal, social people leaving will cause as many problems as it solve.

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Nvidia says Google's TPU benchmark compared wrong kit

Sirius Lee

Re: Google still kicks NVIDA in terms of power...

Take a vote as I think you make the most relevant assessment. Yes, the Google article made it very clear that operations per watt is their benchmark. That and the ability to scale out. I did not get the impression they cared if it was more operations at the same power level or the same number of operations for less power. By putting out an implementation in silicon they have created a target Intel and nVidea can aim at. I'm sure the Google team is delighted early indications are that Intel and nVidea want to play their game.

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Linux, not Microsoft, the real winner of Windows Server on ARM

Sirius Lee

What?

So you update your Linux kernel and now you have to update (recompile) all your software. How is this a good thing? Or you don't update your kernel and you find your software is no longer supported on that *aged* Linux server because it's two years old and the software vendors don't want the cost of support such an old kernel.

Linux is great in some scenarios. It's great if you do a limited number of things and you can remember all the command line incantations for them. It is probably true that hard-core administrators do remember all the incantations. But for the rest of us, those with other responsibilities as well, Windows Server is great because in addition to the command line we can use visual interfaces so we do not have to be word perfect on every single command.

I know hard-core Linux types don't get it. When you know some thing or some task very well it's hard to remember how difficult you used to find it and then there is a tendency to think everyone must be or could be as fluent as you. I know I have had that experience (sadly not with the Linux command line yet).

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Amazon's AWS S3 cloud storage evaporates: Top websites, Docker stung

Sirius Lee

Calling bullshit

Our storage is on S3 in the US East and we've not experienced problems or losses. Maybe there is some other problem some users have which manifests itself as an S3 problem.

On the back of this story we've wasted time checking our store on the S3 service and have not found any issues.

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Google devs try to create new global namespace

Sirius Lee

Re: are they trying to reinvent DOI?

I think the breathless enthusiasm of the author ("ridiculously easy") gave away a lack of critical thinking during the article's preparation.

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Ah, the Raspberry Pi 3. So much love. So much power ... So turn it into a Windows thin client

Sirius Lee

Gearbest

Or buy a complete device with a screen and Windows and HDMI and USB for $88.

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'Hey, Homeland Security. Don't you dare demand Twitter, Facebook passwords at the border'

Sirius Lee

As I read this article I remembered the article published in The Register *just last week* which reviewed the should's and should not's with respect to data security when travelling to the US. It was clear in the article that demanding passwords is not a new thing. That TSA staff have been able to require access to phones for years and, if password to social and other accounts are on the phone then their contents are fair game. And if you do not offer up your phone then staff are within their rights to confiscate the device and send it away for forensic investigation.

Since this is not a new thing or even a new practice why is a fuss being kicked up now. I have no love for President Trump but I have even less love self-serving hypocrisy. This hypocrisy feeds Trump's narrative of fake news when this 'news' should have been brought to light while Barry was in charge.

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Watch how Google's starving DeepMind AI turns hostile, attacks other bots to survive

Sirius Lee

Incentives

Surely these examples only illustrate that appropriate incentives are important. If in in the gathering game the incentive included not hurting an opponent it's unlikely there would be any tagging. If the Wolf pack game included the incentive to kill other wolves there is likely to have been wolf-on-wolf attacks. Given the simplistic incentives, there is no surprise at the outcomes.

Correct incentives are important in the workplace because getting them wrong can lead to anti-social and expensive outcomes. The incentives in the workplace also include government regulation.

The lack of surprise at the outcomes of these experiments is because many of us would act in the same way given the incentives available. Surely better use of AI is to workout what the incentives should be to make it more likely that socially acceptable outcomes are obtained.

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Republicans send anti-Signal signal to US EPA

Sirius Lee

Re: Plausible deniability

Of course it can be detected. At the very least the messages will contain headers that describe the kind of encryption used. Virus checkers will flag encrypted content as not checkable and add headers to the message to indicate that failure. If it's anything like our system admins will receive warnings about potential infringements of policy.

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Humanity needs you... to build an AI bot that can finger rotten headlines

Sirius Lee

Just what we need, a bot to censor stuff - what could go wrong?

Hopefully something like this will never work. Imagine the horror story of benevolent state actors intervening to eliminate 'fake' news.

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What's big, orange, outrageous, promising to create US jobs, and sinking in popularity?

Sirius Lee

Why do you guys do it?

Every effing quarter there is some clown putting out nonsense articles about Amazon's economic performance. You will be disappointed to learn that most of the down turn you report in after hours trading has been regained by the time I wrote this. But more than that, the modest downturn in share price you report only left the stock where it was at the beginning of the day.

Remarkably, Amazon posted a profit. For years Amazon has had a policy of making zero profit instead investing that in the business - mainly cloud infrastructure. Sometimes Amazon makes a bit of a loss, sometimes its a bit of a profit. Why make profit that you have to share it with Uncle Sam? You can see the cash being used as investments by Amazon by reviewing the cash flow section of the 10-K (the annual financial report submitted to the US Securities and Exchange commission.

In the meantime the share price has risen from $681 on Jun 27th 2016 to $817 as I write. What *exactly* is wrong with that? How can a small (and now disappeared) blip be set against that huge gain in less than a year. Get some perspective.

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Welcome to the Wipe House: President Trump shreds climate change, privacy, LGBT policies on WhiteHouse.gov

Sirius Lee

Grow up. Few like Trump but even the BBC did a better job of covering this issue pointing out that the whitehouse.gov site is the site of POTUS. Any comments previously there do not reflect the views of the new administration so have been removed and I expect will be restored in due course under a suitable domain. The twitter posts from @POTUS have also gone, changed by Twitter themselves to @POTUS44 to avoid confusion.

Based on the evidence of a hysterical article like this, I think the administration was right to focus on making sure the existing content does not appear after the inauguration. Such hysterical comments makes me think that some arses would be making comments about how the new administration still supports all Barry's points of view.

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IBM, Microsoft, US Govt all to blame for globalisation backlash: Jack Ma

Sirius Lee

yeah, yeah, yeah

Sounds great. But the reason those jobs went abroad is that the local consumer is unwilling to pay for the cost of having things (actual things) produced locally. If things are produced domestically it is unlikely they will be produced at the same low cost because if they are the domestic worker will not have a domestic living wage.

It's OK posting comments here about how bad globalization is but it's just virtue signalling unless you can also show that you already willing to swallow the extra cost because already you only buy domestically produced goods, goods that do not have foreign labor in the production chain.

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Botched Microsoft update knocks Windows 8, 10 PCs offline – regardless of ISP

Sirius Lee

Click bait

I am in the UK, I use Virgin Media and it's not affected me. Seems a bit premature to blame a Windows 10 update by Microsoft when problem instances are so constrained. Is there not even the remotest chance that the small number of affected users have installed some other app that's caused the problem. Or it a better revenue strategy to blame Microsoft?

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China and Russia aren't ready to go it alone on tech, but their threats are worryingly plausible

Sirius Lee

I don't get the US paranoia about Russia. It is a nuclear country so from a military perspective it requires attention. But from a technology perspective? As a market it is smaller than Germany, France, UK or Italy and, thanks to sanctions, its struggling. Its GDP per capita is one third that of any western state. And why are tech companies not part of the embargo on Russia?

China is a different case - at least to me, a European. The US hegemony on stuff technical is dangerous for the prosperity of Europe. Sure, we get to use it but it sucks cash and talent out of Europe. Meanwhile Europeans seem totally incapable of forging a common technical market to rival the US. So China offers Europeans the prospect of an alternative technical nexus. No matter how significant China becomes, like the US it is too far away to be a political or military threat to Europe. But the prospect of having a second vendor to the world (not just a manufacturing shop) would introduce real competition.

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Open source Roundcube webmail can be attacked ... by sending it an e-mail

Sirius Lee

Eee, when I warra kid

It wern't like this in my day.

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Microsoft boffins think VR visions will rival drugs by 2027

Sirius Lee

Horrific

"Microsoft's group of futurists is exclusively female, which represents an effort to counter the under representation of women in computing fields, according to the company."

One of the redeeming features of the US is it's ability to take the middle road to avoid polarization and extremism.

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European Council agrees to remove geoblocking

Sirius Lee

Re: and what about VAT?

@Nick Kew If you are selling digital goods on-line then VAT must be charged at the rate prevailing in the buyers country of 'permanent residence' (which they tell you and you do not have to verify). These rules were defined in the EU VAT 2005 directive and cam into force across the EU in Jan 2015.

If you are selling physical goods (even a digital good on a DVD you ship by mail) these changed rules do not apply.

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CompSci Prof raises ballot hacking fears over strange pro-Trump voting patterns

Sirius Lee

Seven stages of grief

This is an example of the first of the seven stages: shock and denial.

We've had it in the UK since June 23rd. Sadly nearly half the population are still at stage 1 four months later. Some are so deep they even think bringing Tony Blair back can part of the solution. That is real desperation.

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China gets mad at Donald Trump, threatens to ruin Apple

Sirius Lee

Re: Trade War

My guess is that you are not a negotiator. Or, at least, I hope I get to negotiate with you if you are.

The loser out of a trade war with the US is China. It will be unpleasant for dainty snowflakes in California and New York who might not be able to get the latest shiny, shiny as inexpensively as they do today. But there is a reason there is a trade imbalance. US$ are funding the process of lifting China out of the sorry state it was in by the 1970s.

There are some 300m relatively wealthy people in China, mainly in the large coastal cities, but it is still a dirt poor place with average GDP per person of just $6K vs US at over $50K. If China does not have the money from the US its growth will fail almost overnight. There are just not enough wealthy Chinese to keep the economic engine running well enough to lift the country out of poverty.

Since 2008 China has been on a suicidal investment binge. The investment has delivered infrastructure and new cities to the country but it has piled up humongous debt. Where will the money come from to service this debt if not from the US? Not sure you believe me? Here's a link to a program by a UK journalist called Robert Peston who, at the time, was economics editor for the BBC. His assessment may be overly pessimistic but it illustrates the scale of the potential problem.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNu4AoHdNTE

Meanwhile, China cannot feed itself and has almost no natural resources. It needs to buy those from other countries. This is why China has been making friendly with much of Africa and South America where it can. But it needs US$ to spend.

Without US$ the human cost in China will be horrific. Even with the one-child policy the Chinese population is 1.3bn. One in every 6 people on the planet is Chinese. Without US$ China will be unable to support itself.

So the Chinese may have a significant stake in the US. But the impact on the US of China wielding its stick is unpleasantness for US citizens. For many Chinese it can be life or not.

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Silicon Valley VCs: We're gonna make California great again – on its own

Sirius Lee

Prisoners of Geography

Do yourself a favour. Go buy (and read) Tim Marshall's excellent book Prisoners of Geography to get just one reason why your analysis is bullshit.

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Tech Trump: Silicon Valley steps into the valley of unhappiness

Sirius Lee

Slashing the corporation tax rate

I suspect they will get over any misgiving when he slashes corporation tax. Companies like Apple will be able to repatriate $billions currently held offshore. Some economists estimate there is as much as $2trillion sloshing around waiting to be able to home. Just a small percent of that will allow a company like Apple to provide a few more jobs in the US and provide the cover needed to avoid Trump's sanctions.

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We're going to have to start making changes or the adults will do it for us

Sirius Lee

A bit hard on yourself

Perhaps its your conditioning but I do think you are being hard on yourself. IT is an unusual environment because it changes so much all the time.

Take a lawyer. Yes, there are new laws passed each year - but not that many and often with years of warning. But there is only one law. In IT there are many equally valid new alternatives all the time.

Or take an a civil engineer. Brick and iron have the same properties now as they did when man first learned the smelting technique and 'stone age man' is a euphemism for backwards.. There's a reason we call them 'concrete' examples - they are definite, unchanging. Sure, some smarty pants will point out that we invented steel. But that was over 100 years ago.

Meanwhile in IT land there are always new ways of doing old things. We cannot embrace them all. It would be great if we could but its just unproductive. And potentially career threatening. Pick the wrong new idea too early and your shiny new product is going nowhere. Not because the new idea you chose was a bad one but because the crowd sourced alternative idea that won has many more adherent and is, for now, correct.

Years ago I opted to use a JavaScipt library called MooTools. It was great. Then Microsoft chose jQuery and the rest, as they say, is history. By contrast in 2007 I jumped in to the cloud so I could reduce most of the IT department - I suppose, really, re-skill. Despite dire warnings about the terminal dangers of the cloud, the benefits were so obvious. Fortunately, I chose AWS. I write 'fortunately' not because I believe they have some fantastically unique service but because the crowd made the same choice. I'd like to say it was great foresight but it was a toss up between AWS and some outfit in California I can no longer remember. The Californian's problem was lack of geographical spread and one day I had a problem accessing their service because the infrastructure provider, Level 3, had a bad day - nothing to do with the Californians directly. That was it.

One way of looking at your issues is that your (and my) personal traits make us antagonistic. Another is that we have to make choices, sometimes with long term consequences, between alternatives are that are really identical. We make a choice and then advocate our position. There is no viable alternative. One is to capitulate to everyone else's view but if you are going to capitulate there was no point in making a choice in the first place. Being a thoughtful introspective person,you would not have made a choice in that instance so the scenario does not arise. The only reason we advocate is because we see a reason, probably parochial, that one alternative is better than another. In other circumstances we sit firmly on the fence waiting to see how it pans out.

I'm like this with containers at the moment. I don't really 'get' the need for containers. Of course the evangelists will brow beat me with their reasons but I don't see a business case for learning this technique that other techniques I already know don't work at least as well. But I recognize this is a parochial perspective. I probably do not yet have a use case that fits the container problem (though that doesn't stop the evangelists harassing me).

NoSQL is another. Don't get it. I get the need for denormalization. I just don't get why a 'special' database is required. A few year's back I was willing to listen so attended a MongoDB webinar (it could have been a Crouch webinar - those identical choices again). The webinar was lead by a guy who read English at uni and wrote poetry. No, No, No. I wanted to hear from CS PhDs about why my optimized and distributed relational engine was not up to the task and why my years of experience querying SQL databases for BI apps in global businesses was going to be consigned to history. The use case presented was CraigsList. Not their main database - that continued to be held in MySQL. Apparently CraigsList were looking at NoSQL for their archive databases so they could change the structure of the main database more easily - or something. Seemed to me to be an interesting application but not the world changing use case for NoSQL.

So give yourself a break. The adults can try to tell us to get our house in order but that's because they live in more deterministic houses. We know the adults will not do any better because IT is more like social media and we know how successfully the adults have managed to rein in social media.

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The new FCC privacy rules are here, and nobody is happy

Sirius Lee

ISP Turkeys disappointed Christmas finally arrived.

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Surprise, surprise: AWS is making boatloads of money for Amazon

Sirius Lee

Shaun, Shaun, Shaun

For *year* bloggers like you have bemoaned that Amazon has made no money, *Years*. And yet revenue has grown. If Amazon make money, who gets a chunk. Sure shareholders get some but the IRS gets even more. So why would a company voluntarily choose to give away some of their profits if they believe they are in a position to make even more money by investing that money in the business?

Of course they would not. And they don't. The Amazon finance managers have done a great job in minimizing the profit - sometimes even making a small loss - so the company's tax liability is as small a possible. It is a remarkable feat for a company with $25bn in revenues that their profit is always under 1%. Can you manage your personal finances with such fidelity?

Meanwhile look at the share price over the past 12 months: gone from $600 to over $800. Over 33% in 12 months. Madness and of course the price may need a correction. But only as a result of those who bought into the stock recently in the misguided view the company will start generating dividend income.

I'm in the fortunate position of buying into Amazon in 2007 when the stock price was just $50 (seemed a lot at the time). But it does mean I've read countless posts like yours bemoaning the company's results. My good fortune comes from ignoring them all.

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AWS budget tool update gives suits the control they crave

Sirius Lee

In my view this is a poor article and may provide more illustration of the limitation of the El Reg mind. If a site is coming up on the planned spend, what is a company to do? Continue spending or cut back? It seems the author's view is that a company should just continue spending.

Maybe that's the right course for some. But AWS is pointing out a way to contain costs is to stop using multiple sites behind a load balancer and instead drop back to one server without a load balancer.

If you are already running multiple web sites behind a load balancer - as many are - then you are already running multiple web sites. AWS tools like cloud formation and containers make it straight forward to add and remove servers based on demand. Normally only the internet facing load balancer needs a static IP address.

But the premise behind the sarcasm in the article is misplaced because it is not true to say that it is necessary for two 'versions' of a site to be maintained. I think this demonstrates the author doesn't really have a great understanding of AWS or perhaps, wrote the article with impaired faculties.

AWS is pointing out that using a lambda function, possibly triggered by a billing event, a company could call a task that might:

1) Remove the static elastic IP address from the load balancer;

2) Shutdown the load balancer and all but one of the EC2 instances hosting the web site; and

3) Associate static the IP address with the remaining web site EC2 instance.

Job done. The web site is now using one machine and cutting back on costs. Is it difficult? No. Does it require the maintenance of a special version? No.

It's not an elegant approach to cost management but it seems likely the comment seized upon by the author was an attempt to remind users of the options they have available to control costs automatically not a statement of best practice.

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SHA3-256 is quantum-proof, should last BEELLIONS of years, say boffins

Sirius Lee

Turn that one on its head

Since quantum computers capable of beginning to attack hash algorithms like SHA-256 don't exist yet, why limit the potential to attack by quantum computers with today's restrictions?

The real question is: what qubit coherence duration is required to solve the problem? As I understand it, at the moment the coherence duration is of the order of milliseconds. What was assumed by the people offering their opinion in this article? If the coherence duration was increased to 1 second, would that do it? 10 seconds?

It seems to me, and I may be wrong, the claim that SHA-256 is quantum attack proof is based on assumptions that may be irrelevant tomorrow. One group in Australia is working on room temperature qubits based on topological properties of quantum states not physical properties like spin because the topological properties are more stable. If this, or other, research comes to fruition, doesn't that make the limitations asserted in the article irrelevant?

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British jobs for British people: UK tech rejects PM May’s nativist hiring agenda

Sirius Lee

Hopelessly biased article

Students will choose to go where they think they can get a good education. While British universities ride high in the charts Britain will remain an attractive place to receive an education. Despite the [weak] rhetoric, networking effects play a role that is as important in education as it is in any other form of networking. As we can clearly see, when networking effects are in play, it is really difficult for changes to be made or for disturbances to affect them. For this reason alone, this article is nonsense. If network effect were not at play then as a middling economy dwarfed by the US, China and even Germany, our universities should much further down the league table - but they are not, they are at the top.

Britain may be coming less welcoming. But that's from an extraordinarily high bar. Beside the US, which countries take in more workers born outside the EU?

But is it right that Britain is allow to plunder the talent from developing countries. The premise of this article is that it is absolutely right for Britain to welcome, indeed compete for, the brightest foreign minds. If we were talking about physical assets - natural resources, perhaps, or some land - would it be OK for Britain to compete to plunder these assets? Of course not. It would be denounced as imperialism. But plundering the intellectual assets of a country is OK.

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