For the love of God, can El Reg's writers please stop putting an apostrophe in front of Leccy? Leccy is a complete, valid slang word - it's certainly not Eleccy, which is what the apostrophe implies (as a contraction, like 'Ello equals Hello).
56 posts • joined 12 Jan 2010
There's a genuine phobia of this sort of thing: keraunothnetophobia - a fear of falling man-made satellites
"An AI set up to do the same job could also have such a scenario built in."
Which nicely sums up where AI is at the moment - there's still no "intelligence" that can realistically consider situations like this, in the way a human can, outside of its programming. What if someone had even thought about this in advance and added a rule like "do not launch counter-attack if missiles <= 5". What then if 6 "missiles" had been detected? Until such time as AIs can really play a hundred games of tic-tac-toe and come to the conclusion that "the only winning move is not to play", then it's just not safe enough to work in this sort of application.
Eliza's author, Joseph Weizenbaum (sometimes credited as the father of AI) had strong views on this, suggesting that a programmer who helped fake bombing data in the Vietnam War was "just following orders" in the same was as Adolf Eichmann, architect of the Holocaust. He said "The frequently-used arguments about the neutrality of computers and the inability of programs to exploit or correct social deficiencies are an attempt to absolve programs from responsibility for the harm they cause, just as bullets are not responsible for the people they kill. [But] that does not absolve the technologist who puts such tools at the disposal of a morally deficient society"
Heh, I though at first that this story was a lot more real-world serious than it was: in North America, a "switch" in a railway context is what we would call "points". Shutting those down could have been seriously disruptive!
Can technologists see the future more clearly?
I would say that technologists have a patchy record at future-gazing at best, with Adam Osborne (of Osborne 1 fame) predicting in 1979 that 50% of jobs would be lost over the following 25 years, or Alvin Toffler suggesting that computers would enhance our mind power. I don't see much of that in the tabloid race to the bottom or a world of uncritically-accepted fake news on Facebook. Even the legendary Dr. Christopher Evans suggested that computers would remove drudgery, increase prosperity (for all, not just a few) and iron out intellectual differences between all people
Nearly 40 years ago almost exactly the same things were being said about AI and computers in general and their impact on people's livelihoods. Phrases like "jobs holocaust" and "the collapse of work" were common. Expert Systems (like Weizenbaum's Eliza) were going to replace doctors and psychiatrists Real Soon Now. Then there were "Fifth Generation [AI] Computers", abandoned after a decade with millions of pounds, dollars and yen spent.
It's still not happened, and whilst most of the other promises of technology posited at the time have been wildly exceeded in ways pundits of the 1970s wouldn't have thought possible (storage, performance, power, price, portability, graphics, etc, etc), general-purpose AI still seems to be only just out of the starting blocks.
There are definitely areas where AI has massively improved, like language and image processing, but a "universal AI machine" still seems to be a long way off.
Re: The same everywhere...?
Responsive Design is an absolute scam, as the one thing it does little to address is data usage (although it got a bit better since actual pre-download support for different image resolutions was added). Downloading 4MB of content before deciding which parts of it you want to use is completely missing the point and is exactly why I often use The Reg's mobile variant on my laptop on the train and despaired when the BBC dropped its proper mobile version.
Re: "either creating great content"
Stuff like "The Missing" and "Sherlock" is every bit as good as US output, and nobody does wildlife like "Planet Earth II". Don't forget that for every popular show that makes it over here, there's a ton of dross that doesn't.
Re: Pandora's box?
The era when anyone made vast amounts of money thanks to the wool trade has long passed, and whilst it's true that wool might naturally fall from sheep, I suspect you would find that harvesting it by picking it out of hedgerows would not be economically viable (or would mean £500 sweaters). Wool is now financially a very minor part of the sheep-rearing business and, like milk and leather, is strictly a by-product of the meat industry.
Re: For the true Sinclair aficionado...
Camputers (builder of the ill-fated Lynx) was also headquartered on Bridge Street. It was related to Acorn in the sense that it was a spin-off from GW Design, a company that had provided some PCB design services for the Acorn Proton/BBC Micro.
There's also Jupiter Cantab - designers of thr Ace - but they were way out in Bar Hill, up the A14 (although that probablly didn't exist in those days)..
Allso worth a stop-off would be the Cambridge Science Park to see Cambridge Consultants, which once counted Clive Sinclair and Robert Maxwell as board members and was something of a nexus of early Cambridge micro companies.
Re: Details, details...
Ah yes, of course it's a court and I should have known that having worked in Cambridge for 11 years, ived there for a bit and having only recently stayed at Christ's (when they let their student rooms out during the summer) with its imaginitively-named First, Second and Third Courts!
There is an IT angle in the Kings College quad: there's a nice photo in August 1984's Acorn User (taken in 1980, with flares and everything) featuring Chris Curry and Hermann Hauser standing in front of the statue holding their new Atom machine - the precursor to the Proton, a.k.a. BBC Micro
TomTom just gets driving more than Google or Apple
On a recent longish trip in a friend's van, I became so impressed at just how much better TomTom's phone navigation app was compared to Google or Apple (the latter of which delights in absurd instructions like "turn left in to the B one-thousand-and-thirty-four in 600 feet") that I splashed out the £39 or whatever it was for three years as soon as I got back. Proof not just that you get what you pay for, but that TomTom's navigation stuff is clearly thought through by people who actually drive, rather than - apparently - by people who don't.
Re: This is ridiculous it is so out of touch...
Yeah, and I'm not sure what else it says about the target demographic, when the example is lager (clearly the cheapo gnats-piss supermarket own-brand version and the other sort commonly referred to as "wife beater") and neither of the percentages is representative of most draught real ales, many of which are between 3.7 and 4.2%
Please. Stop. Writing. "'Leccy".
It's a slang word, not a contraction
Atari UK urinals
Not quite the same, but according to Personal Computer World's editor David Tebbutt in 1982, Atari UK's headquarters' gents toilets had Apple's logo "right where you aim"
So, we appear to have come full circle: back in 1979, white-collar/technical union head honcho Clive Jenkins stated "the days when fears of unemployment caused by computing could be discounted have definitely vanished", with his union - the ASTMS - going on to predict an extra 3 million unemployed by 1991, attributable to computers and robots. Jenkins went on to call the whole process a "jobs holocaust" and, together with co-author Barrie Sherman, forecast an imminent "leisure society" with most people being unemployed most of the time. Adam Osborne, he of the Osborne 1 computer, was also in to predictions of gloom in his book "Running Wild", also published in 1979, in which he predicted 50% of all jobs disappearing with 50 million job losses in the US alone, thanks to technology. Even the Socialist Workers Party pitched in with a book published in 1980 called "Is a Machine After Your Job?".
Maybe we should just be more like Dr. Christopher "Mighty Micro" Evans who was far more sanguine, saying in 1979 (not long before he died at the age of 48) "Like it or not, the technology is going to overwhelm us. So, as for some of the eerie futures that seem possible, I don't think we've got much option. Take the case of machine intelligence. It's going to be just too useful for us not to develop it".
Plus ça change!
Re: why do I stick with Firefox?
Same here really: I think it will be a very dark and sinister day for the internet if Google gets to own (and control) the entire stack, from the entry point (search) through the content (YouTube, etc) to the client used to access it all (Chrome).
Netscape gave us a choice against Microsoft's dominance. It's not just for nostalgia that its progeny Firefox - for all its warts - should be supported and improved to ensure that some choice remains in a Google-dominated world.
Re: The difference between Apple and Samsung
And Telefunken had already produced a ball mouse (unlike Englebart's x/y-only wheels) several months before that famous demo.
The iMac was essentially a copy of the 1984 Ontel C/WP Cortex - same all-in-one/built-in-to-the-monitor design and available in different colours; the iPhone was a lot like a Visitor data device as seen in 1985 TV sci-fi series "V", in the episode "Reflections in Terror" - same rounded corners and everything.
Vegetarianism is a lifestyle choice/ethical position. Herbivorous is the word you're looking for.
Behind the curve?
If 76Mbps is "behind the curve", then wtf is the 1Mbps that I'm still on? And that's with Vodafone (after they bought Demon)!
Opposite of NIMBY
I propose either
IWOOT - "I Want One Of Those"
IHOOT - "I'll Have One Of Those"
Value for money?
£790 for a phone? Are people that insane? I've bought a *car* which I got 50,000 miles out of for less than that.
Woz was clearly not a layout artist
I'd heard it said somewhere before that Woz was not considered to have been that brilliant an engineer, and the layout design for the Apple I seems to prove it. The chips are laid out in about the worst way you could think - it's almost like getting the longest tracks imaginable between everything was a design objective!
The iPhone was a copy anyway
In the episode entitled "Reflections in Terror" of TV series "V" (1984-1985), one of the Visitors attempts to extract the DNA of Elizabeth the "Star Child" by "accidentally" spiking her with a rose thorn. Prior to this, she checks Elizabeth's identity with a device suprisingly similar to an iPhone, complete with rounded corners, an LCD-like display and touch capability. That looks like prior art to me!
What am I missing?
What I don't get about Bluetooth or other wireless speakers is... don't they still need power? If they need power, don't they need wires? If they need wires then, er, why not just wire them in to the source and solve power supply and latency in one go. I suppose I get that some people might prefer to plug in a power brick locally for each remote speaker (with all the wasted stand-by energy that implies) rather than having wires run all around the house, but unless you happen to have pre-wired mains sockets right next to where the speakers want to be then you still have a trailing wire problem.
Whilst I agree with a lot of this article, I wouldn't totally diss re-releasing old recordings. I think it's right to argue that it would make no difference just going from CD to SACD (or Pono) in and of itself, but taking original source recordings, cleaning them up and remastering them for a CD audience can make a huge difference. For about 20 years I assumed that the instrument on After the Ordeal, off Genesis' Selling England LP was a guitar, but the Nick Davis 2007 remix (although controversial to many fans) does at last reveal it to be the mandolin it's supposed to be!
It would be vaguely amusing if some automated (and slightly dim) trading system woke up on Monday and detected this as a price crash, dumped a zillion shares in response and triggered a real share collapse.
AMD and Intel
AMD had been a second-source of Intel chips since their first (reverse-engineered) 9080A - a clone of Intel's 8080 which was released at the end of 1975. By 1976 they had a licence, enabling them to become an official second-source, which they did right up until they were stiffed over the 386 in 1985. See http://www.cpu-world.com/CPUs/8080/
"seeing as how the iMac was quite unlike anything that the personal computer market had seen before"
Oh, apart from maybe 1983's C/WP Cortex - released some 15 years before: http://www.nosher.net/archives/computers/az_personal_computers_1984-10_001 (with apologies for pimping one of my own pages but it's the only advert reference I could find. old-computers.com also has a small article on it: http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=899&st=1)
Frankly, all this hand-wringing about BT having a monopoly on rural broadband is utter bollocks. We - the potential recipients of said broadband - DON'T CARE as long as *someone* rolls it out before we all die. Perhaps then we in the sticks can finally get something a little faster than 1mbps DSL...
Re: My house has 3 TVs, 2 "connected"
Why would you do that? I bought a Pure Evoke Flow DAB radio at least a year ago (for less than the price of even a cheapo telly) and it's one of the best gadget's I've ever purchased. It obviously does DAB, it can access BBC Radio catch-up services, plays all my DNLA stuff from the local network, does loads of other internet services and, most importantly, sounds exceptionally good for a small radio.
Net worth only doubled?
Given that the cost of things, at least since the 80s, has roughly doubled every ten years (that £200 VIC-20 from 1981 would cost about £800 now if nothing else had changed), then a 2x increase in net worth in the same ten years is only keeping pace with inflation. I'd consider that quite disappointing for the individuals concerned (although clearly some of them have outrun that by quite a margin).
I'm now waiting for the first reported case of someone who has their finger chopped off by the mugger stealing their iPhone, just like the Malaysian dude who had his finger chopped off when thieves car-jacked his fingerprint-secured Mercedes (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4396831.stm). Thief-magnet gadgetry that requires an easily-removable physical part of me to work? No thanks.
Re: More likely its the survey is trying to provide too many decimal places
"I highly doubt there are any new Windows XP installs happening"
You say that, but only a few days ago I installed a new Windows XP instance (activated and everything, the licence for which I've had kicking around for ages) on VirtualBox so I could run some Windows-only camera raw-converting software to process some photos I'd taken on a brand-new Pentax MX-1 the format of which AfterShot Pro (running on Linux) doesn't know about yet. OK, so large businesses are hardly rolling XP on thousands of desktops, but enough people like me doing the odd install to get something working /could/ bump up the figures a bit now and again...
"Inspire the Next Generation"
The phrase "inspire the next generation" really bugs me, because by implication it's writing off the /current/ generation of children. Even at the age of ten I've heard that it's possible to learn new stuff.
Always Connected my arse
I have a two-day-a-week 1.5-hour-each-way commute to London during which I work (as part of my working day). Even though the Greater Anglia Inter City train has fairly good WiFi (considering it's a train and all), I find that unless it's *perfect* then all these Google Drive apps are a waste of time as *everything* they do (even just adding text) depends on some AJaX backhaul. Using them is tedious beyond words, so I find myself still using LibreOffice and such to create docs and spreadhseets whilst on the move. So much for the liberation of The Cloud: it'll probably be a generation before the cellular/radio/LTE/whatever network is good enough /everywhere/ between Diss and London, whilst travelling at over 100mph, for this to work practically and seamlessly.
An actual 8-track floppy/tape implementation
1977's Compucolor 8001 had an /actual/ 8-track cartridge tape system (which they called "Floppy Tape Memory") available for it. It was capable of storing 1MB (that was a lot of storage back then) which could be read at 4800baud.
Sigh. Whilst this is an excellent idea, what has that fact it was an iPhone got to do with anything? Nothing. If anything, it might put other people off trying this out as they can't afford the Apple premium.
Petulant Freeloading Children
There's a lot of noise here, and much of it is the sound of petulant tantrums and the stamping of feet. "Oh, but America has got some program so I WANT IT TOO!!". It might be frustrating (and I'm not suggesting that there aren't much better business models), but where does it say there's some kind of Fundamental Universal Right to get hold of something someone else decides to create on any terms other than theirs, regardless of how much they decide to charge or where they decide to release it first? If you find those terms annoying, you're free to reject their offer and go out and create your own album's worth of music or $1million-per-episode TV program. Oh, what's that? You can't because you're not creative or talented enough??
Is it the 1980s again?
Meh. 1985 called and wants its story back: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartwatch#Seiko_RC_series
Apple are dominant only if you choose your stats carefully
Apple's perceived dominance of the smartphone market is something of a myth. Ok, they have fairly dominated the app market for most of the time since the release of the release of the iphone, and there is no doubt that they dominate the profits, but in terms of units they've never amounted to more than about 25% of the smartphone market and more like only 10% of the entire mobile market. The iphone became a media poster child, which gave the impression that it was the *only* device around, leading gullible media types to conclude that it was the whole market and nothing else mattered.
Shame that Apple wasn't actually the first at anything, when it came to "home computers". The Apple 1 /was/ vaguely innovative in having TV out and support for a keyboard, but it internally it was probably much like other 6502 machines around at the time (like the MOS KIM-1 - the development board). And it was still a kit - you had to provide a monitor, a keyboard, a case and a PSU yourself. The Apple II wasn't the first home computer either, being announced several months after the Commodore PET. Its other contemporary in the "1977 Trinity" - the Tandy/RadioShack TRS-80 - sold 5 times as many computers in the first four years after the Apple was released and it wasn't until Visicalc came along that the Apple started shifting units (even then being released on the Apple was more coincidence than anything).
So enough with the Apple revisionism, please!
FFS! Being "vegetarian" is an ethical position - an active choice made by a person to eschew eating meat or animal-derived products. I think you'll find that dinosaurs (or indeed any other animal) do not actively choose one way or the other and that the word "herbivore" is what you're looking for in this case.
Frankly, I'm with Debenhams on this. Anything that has got so utterly pretentious that it requires a "trained barista" to make it is so up its own arse with its self-important sense of metropolitan uber-trendiness that it's not even funny any more. Watching people chugging one of any number of varieties of *the same basic drink* out of their baby sippy cups just makes me squirm.
It's amusing (in a deeply ironic, depressing way) to read people grumbling about "only getting 37mbps" or "only managing 8mbps". Living in rural Suffolk, the maximum where I am is 2.5mbps, but I'm actually still on 1mbps - yes, *one* - simply because it's an old Demon uncontested circuit and the throughput is way better than that from the 2.5mbps circuit (it was probably poor DSLAM profiling when I briefly switched to ADSL "Max", but I could never persuade Demon to investigate it). Still, 1mbps is just enough to stream from LoveFilm...
VM have no credibility in these arguments when their closed network reaches less than 50% of the population, and they're doing nothing to extend their reach (and most likely never will).
Try living in /my/ world, high-speed townie whingers!! :-)
Dammit! No need for the apostrophe in "leccy"
You guys keep needlessly prepending the slang word "leccy" with an apostrophe, when it shouldn't have one (the word Eleccy does not exist). If you're treating it as being a contraction (like 'ello), then it would be 'lec'c'y, but that's clearly daft.
"Selling out of a product depends as much on the stocks you have as the level of demand"
Of course Apple would never do such a thing, would they?