* Posts by cyberdemon

160 posts • joined 26 Jan 2010

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Google diversity memo: Web giant repudiates staffer's screed for 'incorrect assumptions about gender'

cyberdemon
Devil

Newspeak..

This.

Not to mention the Doublethink. It is almost a crime just to express an opinion that doesn't align with the HR/party line these days...

About 7 years ago I was on a graduate scheme in a UK company which produced traffic light controllers. I had placements in Hardware (Electronics/Embedded), Software, Operations, Urban Traffic Control, Business Development, Legal, IT and HR.

When I was on my placement in HR, they were busy preparing an Equality & Diversity policy, and I was brave/stupid enough to get into an argument with the head of HR.

The policy encouraged so-called 'positive discrimination' towards minority groups, and I asked why it was necessary or even legal - She was quite offended that I had asked these questions, but said it was because "there are no women in engineering", because they are discriminated against - and the more the company could do to offset that, the better.

Then I pointed out that despite her having no such policy in place previously, there were 4 women in the hardware/software engineering departments (out of about 25 engineers total) - which is not exactly parity but far from her claim of *no* women - but I notice in her HR team, of about 8, all of them (except for me) were women.

She got quite angry/red and claimed not to have known about the 4 women in engineering (which I found hard to believe from the head of HR) and we got along about as well as cats for the rest of my employment..

The problem, like others here have said, is much earlier on. It's pointless and quite counterproductive to try and make underqualified women feel 'entitled' to a job in tech, because recruitment should always be on merit. The problem is education, and making women and girls feel entitled to an *education* in tech.

The worst case of gender skew was my computer science course at uni. Out of an intake of about 200 electronics / computer science students, 3 were female. And now we blame employers for the lack of women in tech??

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'Real' people want govts to spy on them, argues UK Home Secretary

cyberdemon
Devil

"cunning as a shithouse rat"

Indeed. 'Stupid' is reserved for those who actually believe anything she says..

18
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Welcome to the Rise of the Machine-to-Machine. Isn't it time to 'block off' some data ducts?

cyberdemon
Terminator

Sod MGS2

I remember Deus Ex

(like The Matrix, there was only one Deus Ex)

0
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OnePlus cash equals 5: Rebel flagship joins upmarket Android crew

cyberdemon
Devil

Re: No microSD port?

> microSD port has an advantage without relying on cloud backups when your phone breaks.

This.

When I mentioned on the OnePlus forum that the reason I think the lack of MicroSD is a mistake is because I want to be able to BACK UP MY PHONE, the response from the fanbois was literally this: "Your microSD card may fail at any time, but the cloud never rains"

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

That just epitomises where the whole tech industry is heading though: Don't worry your little heads about keeping your data safe - your data is safe with US - it's OUR data now! >:}

0
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FUKE NEWS: Robot snaps inside drowned Fukushima nuke plant

cyberdemon
Mushroom

Re: Go nuclear

@bad_beaver:

> Also, comparing natural levels of radiation that our miserable species has adapted to with a reactor meltdown seems ever so slightly off

I'm not so much talking about the immediate vicinity of a meltdown - that's probably quite dangerous (although the 'Fukushima 50' are all still alive, and 'the most radioactive man in britain' who gazed down the piles of Windscale while it was on fire and was subsequently banned from touching his wife/kids, lived to a ripe old age) - I'm talking about low-level emissions into the global environment - which are far more costly to control than meltdowns.

ALARA says that ANY emission, no matter how small (even a microgram of tritium up your air extraction stack) must be mitigated as far as reasonably achievable (i.e. to the Nth degree). Most 'low level' nuclear waste is actually just barrels of paper overalls. When a worker goes into a "potentially radioactive" area (i.e. there is no radiation detectable here, but just in case - ALARA you know) then they wear disposable paper overalls. New ones every time they go in. What happens to the used overalls? Well they MIGHT be contaminated. So they are then very expensive low-level "nuclear" waste. Such is the hyperbole of ALARA.

Meanwhile, open-air nuclear BOMB testing was happening regularly up until about 1990. This released uncountable orders-of-magnitude more than any nuclear power plant could, meltdown or not, straight into the global environment.

Yet power plants get slapped in the face for releasing the odd GBq of tritium. (Bequerels as a unit makes everything sound bad because it is so tiny - it literally means one atom decay per second. There is about 1GBq tritium in your average glow-in-the-dark keyring)

The trouble with radiation, really, is that it is invisible yet eminently detectable. Your enviro-hippie can come along with a detector and say LOOK- RADIATION - It's all over the place and it's coming from THAT PLANT. Is it dangerous? You've only got him to ask..

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cyberdemon
Devil

Re: Go nuclear

@AC: My point is, low-dose ionising radiation is a hell of a lot better for us than most people (including yourself apparently) seem to think it is. As I say, we have lived with it on this planet for millions of years. Life has evolved to cope with it. Nanoparticles, on the other hand, have only been around for a few hundred years. Nor has CO2 ever been this high since some mass-extinction event.

Why do we close nuclear when the alternatives are so much worse?

4
3
cyberdemon
Holmes

Re: Go nuclear

See icon.

Unfortunately the vast majority of the population would apparently prefer to die a slow death from nanoparticulate emissions from coal and diesel. Or boil in their skins when the power goes off and the air conditioning stops. Or be incinerated by their own lithium-ion backup battery. Or be crushed to death in an all-too-common 'freak' accident involving a wind turbine.. (those things are huge, and have been known to come off their shafts, roll down hillsides and demolish schools/villages)

The alternatives to nuclear power are far more dangerous - but human psychology ignores the frequency of minor disasters and obsesses over extremely unlikely major ones that have yet to happen. See road vs. air travel, etc etc.

The reason that most reasonable people who are opposed to nuclear power give, is that it is too expensive. However my counter to that, is that it is because politicians are obsessed with making the public feel safe, while being ignorant of the psychology that says people see something with a lot of safety controls and assume it must be super dangerous.

This idiocy can be summed up in one acronym: ALARA. This is the belligerently lazy regulatory principle that governs emissions of radiation into the environment. Basically, nobody has defined a safe limit (not even the natural background that we have received from the sun/earth for all of the millions of years that us mammals have been on this planet) - so nuclear operators must keep emissions "As Low As Reasonably Achievable". Meaning if some elf'n'safety parasite comes along with some new way to reduce your radiation dose to staff/public, even if they were already orders of magnitude below background, you are legally obliged to do it. Cost is specifically exempted as an excuse.

This regulation only applies to nuclear power. The fact that a coal power station of the same generation capacity puts out more radioactivity up its smoke stack thanks to trace amounts of Radon gas in coal, is apparently of no consequence.

If only the IAEA would pull their finger out and define a safe limit for radiation exposure.. Considering evidence from Japan I expect they would be surprised and embarrassed. There's even a reasonable body of evidence to say that very low doses of radiation are actually beneficial to long-term health, which challenges the ridiculous "linear no-threshold" model..

28
7

OMG, dad, you're so embarrassing! Are you P2P file sharing again?

cyberdemon
Devil

Me too, except I actually care who I'm paying..

> Might be an uncommon opinion, but I actually pay for the good/services I use...I dunno call me old-fashioned I guess.

If I thought that any of it was going to the people who actually make the goods/services that *i* use, then I would (and do) pay.

However, I'm not particularly into the mainstream manufactured crap that is where most of big-media invest their funds (apart from their next ocean-going yacht), so I guess that makes me middle-class.

Half the time, if I'm after a particular film / piece of music, it's not available from any paid services - and even if it is available, the content mafia just pocket the money anyway - it's not like the original creators are going to be making more music/films if they are long dead (but copyright is Life+95 years thanks to the Mickey Mouse Act).

So half the time I'm forced to stream anyway. But the other half the time, if the paid services were charging a reasonable rate based on the cost of delivering their service (i.e. maintaining shed loads of hard disks, and a ton of bandwidth) then I would happily pay the requisite 50p per film / 5p per music track, with at least 50% paid to the artists unless I ask to pay them more because I really liked it, then artists would get paid properly and I would buy a hell of a lot more content.

As it happens, I bought a subscription to Magnatune, which has exactly this model. But that definitely makes me middle-class.. <_<

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Former GCHQ boss backs end-to-end encryption

cyberdemon
Devil

Sock-Puppet..

I'd love to see a report on how many times each MP has voted against the party whip Chairman May.. (Data here?)

I'd put money on Amber Rudd coming bottom of that ranking.

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GSM gateway ban U-turn casts doubt on 8-year prosecution in Blighty

cyberdemon
Devil

@ alien overlord

No, he didn't break the law, because it hasn't yet been proven that he did. Innocent until proven guilty?

Meanwhile, apparently the regulator who made up said law, is considering whether this is infact a stupid law which should be repealed.

If Ofcom does repeal the law, then is it still worth spending public money deciding if this man broke it or not?

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France and UK want to make web firms liable for users' content

cyberdemon
Devil

Re: Your Bed..

Not my fscking bed! I never voted for her..

(except once, in a referendum, but that doesn't count)

Honestly, I think the only reason for Theresa May to have been on the 'remain' side of things, would have been to sabotage the campaign from the inside because she knew nobody liked her. Her entire agenda has been authoritarian from the get-go: even before the whole brexit thing was on the cards, May was campaigning to leave the European Convention on Human Rights, because she wanted to be able to detain people indefinitely without charge. I mean, we all thought Jacqui Smith was bad..

This is the woman who gave us the National Crime Agency (not seen much about them lately, oddly enough) I wouldn't be at all surprised if, had May been elected last week, then she would be busy closing all regional police constabularies around the country and replacing them with a centralised NCA, with powers to do whatever they liked, to whomever they liked, with zero accountability.

I didn't watch SS:GB, but it probably had a similar plot..

We missed a collective bullet.

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Yo, patch that because scum still wanna exploit WannaCrypt-linked vuln

cyberdemon
Devil

UPnP maybe?

The same thought struck me, too. Nobody would knowingly expose SMB to the internet, surely.

I don't know, but maybe there are software nasties out there which are mapping SMB ports via UPnP? Apparently it can be done from javascript, so maybe some web browsers will allow a web page to create port mappings without your knowledge?

On my BT router, UPnP is enabled by default and allows applications to map any port they like through the firewall. I can disable UPnP, but there is no way that I know of to list the services that are being forwarded.

There ought to be a WPS-style button press or web confirmation needed to allow programs to map ports with UPnP.

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Secure Boot booted from Debian 9 'Stretch'

cyberdemon
Devil

Re: UEFI needs to *JUST* *DIE*

No, the whole of UEFI needs to die. It's a bloated pile of crap. Can you tell me any useful features it adds over BIOS?

I can tell you a few *unuseful* (and downright insidious) features: One: Intel Management Engine. As of UEFI, Intel-based chips can no longer be used in real-time systems, because the OS is effectively inside a VM, being scheduled by Intel's evil firmware. Said firmware is running a full network stack, and can intercept packets without the OS's knowledge (see Intel Anti-Theft)

Two: Obfuscating and eliminating third-party scrutiny. It is no longer possible to have a bootloader free from Intel signed binary blobs. (secure boot or no secure boot). See https://libreboot.org/faq.html#intel

Three: World-domination for somebody? If there are backdoors in UEFI then it has all kinds of evil implications..

The only real *use* for UEFI is to protect the triumvirate of Intel, Apple, and Microsoft from any present/future competition.

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Intel's buggy Puma 6 chipset earns Arris a gigabit-modem lawsuit

cyberdemon
Devil

Re: "Arris opted for a chipset from Intel's rival Broadcom in its latest gigabit cable modem"

All that needs to happen is for Arris to file a claim against Intel, for the damages it had to pay out under the class action, its costs for defending the suit, plus additional damages to its reputation. The judge in THAT case would be making the call as to whether Intel's shit silicon was Arris' responsibility.

IANAL, but I suspect Arris would have a good case!

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Toshiba's nuclear power plant business runs out of steam

cyberdemon
Devil

Re: Too cheap to meter

Yep. But I can give you one reason why nuclear is so ridiculously expensive:

ALARA

According to international regulations, all radiation emissions from nuclear plants must be kept "As Low As Reasonably Achievable" for anyone's definition of "reasonable" (which explicitly excludes cost) so if someone comes along and criticises your plant design, saying that you could have reduced the public's exposure from this many microsieverts to a few less microsieverts by spending a few million quid here and there, then it's back to the drawing board for your design. (for perspective, people living in Cornwall receive milliseiverts per year i.e. three orders of magnitude above this argument)

Note this only applies to nuclear - Coal puts out more radioactivity than nuclear (accidents and bombs included) simply because of the trace amounts of Radon gas in the millions of tonnes of the stuff that they burn each year. If they were held under the same regulations, then Drax et al would be very unhappy indeed. (although they are slowly converting to burning trees from south america instead, because that is so much better)

Then you have the 'decommissioning industry' (which I am paid by, so I better not give it too much vitriol) who will leverage 'ALARA' to undertake more and more expensive operations in the interests of reducing people's exposure from naff-all to fuck-all.

What needs to happen, is for the IAEA to pull their damned finger out and define a safe limit for radiation exposure. With the current regs, if a nuclear plant gave you a dose equivalent to one dentist's x-ray every 10 years, there would be an international emergency declared.

It's no wonder that nuclear is so expensive.. Perhaps we should make emissions of CO2, NOx and particulates "ALARA" too!

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'Webroot made my PCs s*** the bed' – AV update borks biz machines hard

cyberdemon
Devil

Some people still use Anti Virus?

Seriously - if you're a user, just don't run suspicious files, don't browse dodgy websites, and make sure all your important data exists somewhere that is NOT accessible to your computer on a regular basis. If you DO find yourself in need of browsing dodgy websites (for whatever reason) then make sure you are using a whitelist script/flash blocker, or a virtual machine. And if you don't understand how to do that, you'd best get a clue before going anywhere near said dodgy websites.

And if you're a business - don't give users sufficient privileges to cause any damage unless they thoroughly understand the above and are prepared to take responsibility for it!

Antivirus programs IN GENERAL should be considered harmful. The entire AV industry/culture needs to die. At best it lulls users into a false sense of security - (NO antivirus software can ever be perfect, so no matter what super duper AV you bought, you are still vulnerable.) and at worst, it's just a racket. (Users should NOT be trained to trust anything that calls itself an anti-virus program!)

So-called "real-time" or "on-access" antivirus is essentially installing a rootkit on your machine, interrupting the basic system calls that programs rely on e.g. fopen() and replacing them with their own (in this case buggy) code. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE WORST VIRUSES DO, and it's the reason why antivirus software slows down your machine, and why if you have more than one AV software installed, it causes a world of grief, because they are both trying to usurp the same syscalls.

The only "anti-virus" that I ever use is Clam, which is the traditional "scanner" type which just recursively traverses directories and looks at files one by one - it's handy for sanitising backups of machines I don't trust, or screening suspicious files.

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Trump signs 'no privacy for non-Americans' order – what does that mean for rest of us?

cyberdemon
Mushroom

Re: Trump has become more deranged

How exactly does one 'prepare' for a third world war? :(

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Europe mulls treating robots legally as people ... but with kill switches

cyberdemon
Devil

Re: "Freelander Woman"

Laputan Machine

.. I am not a..!

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Pirates, pirates, whatchu gonna do? Advertisers cop a visit from PIPCU

cyberdemon
Facepalm

Re: Tyrants

Don't worry: Now that we've "Taken back control", we can, er, lose even more freedom thanks to the regulatory oversight that we won't have in future.

Chairman May can sell the police, and whatever the f**k she likes to the IP tyrants (and anyone else who's bidding high), in an effort to keep the money flowing round while keeping the proles under control!

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Meet the Internet of big, lethal Things

cyberdemon
Devil

Re: Milking It

I know COMAU are quite good - TUT in Finland were able to do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2sRReKA0OA

And as I say KUKA were quite cooperative in the end.. We were able to do the same thing with a Kuka robot, but it was not quite as good as TUT's performance with the Comau, and we had to buy some expensive software that really doesn't do very much.. Basically we used the "RSI" (Robot Sensor Interface" which is designed for sensor-corrected movement such as computer vision etc) to "correct" in the entire workspace, based on the position of the haptic pen. This is the only way we managed to get real-time positioning.

I don't know how TUT did it with the Comau - maybe they had to do a similar hack.

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cyberdemon
Devil

Milking It

Is what JD are doing..

@EarthWarrior - You're right, I'm surprised at El Reg for taking the Daily Mail angle on this. It's not about hax0rz in teh yuor combine harvester, it's about money for big agri companies. El Reg probably didn't realise the amount of money JD are milking out of their customers. They are taking full advantage of the fact they are in a niche market with customers who generally don't know much about tech - and when the few who DO understand tech, start doing trivial repairs themselves, they send the lawyers.

I work in Robotics - and industrial robot manufacturers are just the same (some are worse than others - I'm looking at you, Fanuc..)

They (Fanuc) will send legal threats to people "pirating" their user manuals, because they would prefer to send one of their "consultants" to set up your robot, or else you could pay £17,000 to go on a "training course" where you will receive said manual. Your factory floor manager, generally speaking, doesn't have the time or the incling to do configuration or repair, no matter how trivial it really is. But he does have lots of money to throw at consultants.

We asked Kuka really nicely, and they gave us the manuals we needed, but still charged ££££s for some extra piece of (shitty) software that we needed to control the robot the way we wanted.

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Ex-soldier pleads guilty to terror crime after not revealing iPhone PIN

cyberdemon
Facepalm

Re: Something fishy about this story

that has to be one of the cheesiest jokes I've read in a while..

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Those online ads driving you bonkers are virtually 'worthless for brands'

cyberdemon
Devil

Re: All the bad ads

HTML5 supports video, but it won't autoplay without JavaScript. You get a nice 'play' button instead. At least on all sane browsers.

Yes it's true that some sites are going down the road of forcing you to watch ads by surreptitious means, but those sites are starting to ditch the WWW anyway - "please download our APP instead". The only answer is don't use them.

As for driver sites: they're ALL security risks. Run Linux. :P

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cyberdemon
Devil

All the bad ads

Require JavaScript.

If it's not to run some obnoxious autoplay video, then its to spy on your mouse cursor or (more usually) to pull in other random ads from some delivery network, which then allows nefarious advertisers to do a switcheroo to bypass vetting.. (e.g. the download pages with umpteen different "download" buttons) I'm assuming these are pointing to something innocuous if/when the admen do any vetting of the adverts..

(I also assume this is what is happening on Facebook's malware "adverts" - with clickbait fake-news banners e.g. "FANS' OUTPOURING OF GRIEF OVER DEATH OF SIR PAUL MCARTNEY" which my dad clicked on, only to be assaulted by a fullscreen scam-page accompanied with a loud booming voice saying "YOUR COMPUTER HAS BEEN INFECTED WITH A VIRUS! FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY TO REGAIN CONTROL OF YOUR COMPUTER" - I'm giving Facebook the benefit of the doubt here - it's entirely probable that they don't vet their adverts whatsoever..)

Someone above noted that he needs "half a dozen plugins" to get rid of all the ads. That's not true: You only need one - a whitelist JavaScript blocker such as NoScript (firefox) or ScriptSafe (chrome) is all I use - no ABP. The nice thing about this is that HTML-only adverts, which are almost always non-intrusive, display just fine, so honest admen can still get revenue. And if I do see one of these honest, non-intrusive adverts, I am reasonably likely to click on it. (HINT HINT EL REG)

As for the "thanks but no thanks" - I'm sure they would appreciate your feedback to let their neural-networks know that you are most probably an actual real person, but they would use that information just to serve you with ever-more-obnoxious ads, while focussing your attention on their little iframe, rather than the site that you wanted to read, until you give up and click on one.

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Mercedes answers autonomous car moral dilemma: Yeah, we'll just run over pedestrians

cyberdemon
Devil

Re: Hard decision but Mercedes are probably right

I hasten to add, if an autonomous car has to run itself into a tree to avoid hitting someone, despite all of its super-duper sensors to detect it in advance, and super-duper autonomous braking to stop on a peanut, then it was almost certainly driving too fast in the first place. Either that or the obstacle was being tragically stupid, which isn't the car's problem at all.

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cyberdemon
Devil

Re: Hard decision but Mercedes are probably right

Completely agree. But I think the most important angle is the legal angle. As soon as you consider that, then you realise that this whole moral madness is just a can of worms with no bottom. It is better to just try to stop as best you can for ANY obstacle, and not even try to think about this stuff.

1. As you say, the car's sensors cannot possibly ever be perfect. It could quite easily see a paper bag, a cat, a dog, running across the road and decide that it is a human infant. It may then decide to take extreme evasive action to avoid the infant, and end up "deliberately" killing its driver. A human could make exactly the same mistake of course (and probably does, in all of the RTAs of the world). The difference with the human, however, is that you can't then download the black-box data out of his squished brain, and replay his fatal mistake in front of a court of law. The car manufacturers will be *terrified* of this second-guessing by the courts, and of course the lawyers will be salivating just thinking about it.

2. Yes, pedestrians have the same responsibility to avoid danger as anyone else (young children are not directly responsible - their parents are responsible FOR them). The highway code is there for a reason. If a driver is not driving dangerously or carelessly, but still kills a child, then he should, in theory, be found NOT GUILTY, by the court - because the child or their parent should have been paying attention to the inherent danger of the road. Unfortunately in many cases (because the courts are not perfect), he will be found guilty of something and go to jail. If the driver was in fact a robot operated by some company, then one corporate manslaughter case could sink even the biggest of companies. (even if it was incorrectly judged, by the jury of falliable squishy things, which statistically some of the cases will be) I think this is one of the biggest obstacles to the widespread adoption of fully autonomous cars - that the courts have an unacceptably high error rate and that even a "perfect" autonomous car will some day be found guilty.

3. It IS a hard decision, but I would be more afraid of the car that is clever enough to be able to try and make it, than one which is "dumb" and doesn't even go there. The reason is this: If a car is able to evaluate in real-time, the value of all life around it, and try to prioritise the teenage kid walking into the road over the elderly driver, a "criminal", or any of the other ridiculous scenarios you will find over at Moral Machine, for example - then it must have extremely sophisticated social profiling built in. (or perhaps even outsourced to "the cloud" - even worse). This opens up all kinds of evil possibilities. People complained about a "racist hand dryer" whose sensor failed to properly detect black skin. You now have the possibility (or rather, certainty) for a car to deliberately kill a human just because they were profiled to be "less morally valuable" than some other human.

There will be inevitable imperfections in the profiling algorithm and its training data. It *will* be more efficient at profiling the kinds of humans in its training set than the kinds of humans outside of the training set. This is now automatic discrimination against any kind of human who was not included in the training set. Remember the Google Photos app that identified black people as "gorillas"? Well unfortunately they did not have enough black people in the training set, but apparently they did have gorillas. For Google, that was a serious facepalm. If that was an autonomous car though, then once you factor in the lawyers, it's racially motivated murder on the part of Google.

Worse still, the system could be deliberately modified by some evil human. If a large number of a particular manufacturers' autonomous cars had the software capability to profile people and decide on their moral value, and someone maliciously issued an over-the-air software update to all of these cars simultaneously, then that malicious person could even attempt genocide. Very scary indeed.

----

Basically, If I was buying an autonomous car, I would want it to protect ME. (humans are ultimately selfish, no matter what you say) and I would certainly not want it to be second-guessing my life over what ultimately could be just a paper bag. And humans are the customer, so this makes perfect commercial sense.

15
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Ofcom blesses Linux-powered, open source DIY radio ‘revolution’

cyberdemon
FAIL

Re: Potato

> There's no Line-Out socket and it goes a bit deaf on DAB/DAB+ when earphones are plugged in because the telescopic aerial is then disconnected

> What the hell kinda stupidass design is that? Here, you can have this jacket if it's cold out, but you can't wear it with gloves.

Because then you'd be able to connect a tape cassette recorder and steal content in er, perfect digital MP2 quality. Cassette tapes will be the death of the radio industry, don't you know!

5
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Sad reality: It's cheaper to get hacked than build strong IT defenses

cyberdemon
Devil

Blame the hacker

The real problem, if you ask me, is that is the operators of these sites are never accountable for their own shitty security. Everybody blames the hacker. The real black-hats are rarely caught, but sometimes a white-hat will politely point out a vulnerability and expect to be rewarded - instead he is ignored (perhaps to save face) and the vulnerability often remains unpatched. So a grey-hat comes along and rudely makes the vulnerability obvious to all. In most cases he is attacked by the organisation (never mind rewarded) and frequently prosecuted by the state (who want to make an example of him in the hopes that this will scare the black-hats).

IMO the real reason that companies never bother to secure their networks, is because they can always label it as a "cyberattack", as if NOBODY could have stopped this ACT OF TERROR on their systems.

When a system of this scale gets compromised, it should be the sysadmin, not just the "hacker" who gets held accountable by the state. It would be nice if there was a neutral authority that white-hats could report vulnerabilities to, which will confirm them and then force (by law) the companies involved to close them.

Then again, the cynic in me says these sites are deliberately left open so that the state spies can get in, whilst having yet another excuse to pursue and destroy anyone else who wields the same power.

0
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End all the 'up to' broadband speed bull. Release proper data – LGA

cyberdemon
Devil

Prometheus

> Yes!

This might seem attractive to us internet users, but it is a piece of steak at the top of a bill which is otherwise a barrel of offal, fat and bones.

0
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You should install smart meters even if they're dumb, says flack

cyberdemon
Devil

Re: The only thing that makes a smart meter of any use to anyone

FYI You are the last person in the queue for the data from your smart-meter. In front of you are:

  • Your electricity supplier (who want to charge you more if you put your kettle on when they are struggling to meet the load, because they pocketed too much of your bills instead of building the required capacity)
  • Your council (who will be able to profile the number of people living in your dwelling-house to make sure you are paying the proper rate of council tax)
  • Your insurance company (because they will use any scrap of evidence to blame you for overloading your circuits when your house burns down, and thus avoid paying out)
  • The BBC (who will be able to profile repeated tiny spikes during popular TV programmes and thus detect if you are dodging the license fee)
  • Data-mining companies (who will pay good money for any sufficiently-large high-quality dataset about anything)

5
2
cyberdemon
Devil

The benefit:

Is to be able to be remotely switched off. When the electricity company feels like it. Ostensibly so that they can make their renewable plans work without needing to buy any expensive (and inefficient) energy storage devices like Electric Mountain, or (heaven forbid) actual baseload generation capacity (ie their job). Also it comes in very handy when you haven't paid your bill on time.

When the majority of people have "smart" meters then they can implement this plan, and give cheaper tariffs (read: a massive price hike for nearly everybody) to people who don't mind being switched off every now and then (i.e. in the middle of EastEnders, or when the sun goes behind a cloud). If you moan about being switched off then well you should have paid extra, and you shouldn't be watching that drivel anyway, or you should be streaming it on your ipad on 3G.

So in summary, WHAT exactly are YOU doing that needs such a reliable and therefore WASTEFUL energy supply? Washing your clothes you say? Only rich people wash their clothes - you can afford to pay the premium. Perhaps you'd like to buy an energy efficient kettle?

It really is a sorry state of affairs, privatised electricity generation in the UK. We should've stuck with the Ministry of Power, and invested in research into newer, cleaner, cheaper nuclear power, rather than cancelling all the programmes and building privately run coal and gas plants.

Meanwhile we have regulated the pants off of nuclear, making it ridiculously expensive and making everyone scared of it (meanwhile more radioactivity is pumped out by coal plants than nuclear, never mind all the rest of the shite that fossil fuels dump into the air, and vastly more people are killed by wind farms, despite the tiny fraction of energy generation that they currently provide!)

The only people who benefit (aside from the energy companies as above) are the likes of Siemens who make the infernal things, and charge a fortune and make a fortune, knowing that they are subsidised by both the bill-payer and the tax-payer, i.e. you and me and me and you!

9
1

Childcare app bods wipe users' data – then discover backups had been borked for a year

cyberdemon
Devil

Cloud Cuckoo Land

The *ONLY* perspective from which Cloud makes sense is from the company that provides it. For users, it's a stupid idea, always.

There is *no* reason whatsoever for this app to have been storing data anywhere except locally with the users. That would have given superior security and reliability.

Sure, they could have replicated a small subset of that data back to their server if (and only if) it is needed for collaboration features, but to put *everything* in the cloud, that's where most apps fall over, and it's driven by greed - of the cloud providers - to be able to mine all the data and sell it to advertisers/statisticians/crooks as they please.

The most ridiculous part of all is that they were storing the only copy of the data on one server, which is 'doing it wrong' even from a cloud perspective.

13
2

Bungling Microsoft singlehandedly proves that golden backdoor keys are a terrible idea

cyberdemon
Terminator

Re: "Security of Everyone" - WTF?

Like encrypting all your files, plus all your backups if they're in an accessible disk or network drive, and then demanding bitcoins.

That's so lucrative for malware writers that full blown rootkits are a waste of time. Unless you are the NSA or Mossad in which case you could just phone up Intel or Google.

With technologies like IME, embedded in all new Intel chips, your OS is basically running inside of a VM anyway. You are already rooted before you even install an OS.

0
0
cyberdemon
Devil

"Security of Everyone" - WTF?

> And perhaps most importantly: it is a reminder that demands by politicians and crimefighters for special keys, which can be used by investigators to unlock devices in criminal cases, will inevitably jeopardize the security of everyone.

Wait a minute. Blowing secure boot wide open and allowing people to run what they want on their own devices, jeopardises the security of "everyone", does it?

No, it only jeopardises the security of microsoft's monopoly, and apple's.

Secure boot is an insidious anti-feature that deserves to be cast into the deepest of technological hells. Along with its bastard brothers Intel SGX and Anti-Theft, and their hideous, bloated, evil witch of a mother, UEFI.

And the devil himself: Intel Management Engine

Saying "Oh, but you might get a BOOTSECTOR VIRUS!!" is the same argument as "If you don't accept all of these insidious anti-dissident laws then you will all die in a TERROR ATTACK!!"

There are worse things that malware can do than install spyware/trojans into the bootsector, frankly, and accepting exactly the same thing at an even lower level from a bunch of corporate neo-feudalists in bed with state spy agencies hardly fixes the problem!

4
0

Drone bloke cuffed after gizmo stops firemen tackling forest inferno

cyberdemon
Holmes

Too much COD

Perhaps not a door gunner, but if incidents like this are at all common then firefighting planes should perhaps carry a blunderbuss for emergency purposes. Load nets into it?

Anyway this is 'Murica after all. Everyone has a handgun, including firemen, right?

As for EMP guns, obviously that's not going to work. But a 433MHz/2.4GHz signal jammer wouldn't be too hard. You could send out an "all channels at 0" signal which would cause it to fall out of the sky.

0
0

Intel's SGX tiptoes towards Linux

cyberdemon
Devil

blargh

This sounds like a technology that can only bring bad things. I'm not sure if I WANT Linux support for it.

Anti-features, DRM, inscrutable code.

Good news for virus writers and "revenue protection managers", bad news for everyone else.

Oh and of course one thing that's most certainly already using it: UEFI. Truly the Spawn of Satan. The NSA, Mossad, etc don't want anyone looking inside their blackest of black-boxes.

Intel Management Engine

10
2

Judge rules FBI can hack any time, any, place, anywhere

cyberdemon
Devil

Planting of Evidence?

If these Merkins (sic) can go round "hacking" anyone they please without a warrant, then what's to stop them from remotely planting evidence on whomsoever they choose, before having them burned as paedos/terrorists/witches?

28
1

Google-backed solar electricity facility sets itself on fire

cyberdemon
Devil

Re: Supply commitments?

> There have really been just two disasters with catastrophic effects, Chernobyl and Fukushima

Chernobyl was a catastrophe. Fukushima was a catastrophe in terms of the PR it caused (e.g. Frau Merkel's knee-jerk) but in every other sense I think it was a triumph for nuclear safety.

Like you say it was an old design and was not built to withstand a double fault (modern nuclear plants & their safety systems are built to "SIL 4", which requires being able to cope with and immediately diagnose two simultaneous independent faults - more onerous than you might imagine..)

Fukushima was smashed by a "natural" tsunami that killed 10,000s, and made 100,000s homeless. In spite of this the nuclear plant itself has killed nobody. Not one of the "Fukushima 50" who went in to stabilise the plant expecting to die, has died yet. But we have almost forgotten about the tsunami.

Yet people are killed in ordinary "industrial accidents" every day, especially in the "third world", although three were killed (IN BRITAIN!!) demolishing an old coal plant down the road from me at Didcot a few months ago.

When people tell me that Chernobyl or even Fukushima were the worst industrial disasters mankind has known, I like to remind them of Bhopal.

But I suppose that happened in a part of the world we don't care about. :@

9
1
cyberdemon
Mushroom

Closing nuclear in favour of coal..

Is beyond retarded.

For a start, if it's radioactive waste you're concerned about, then the stuff that comes out of coal stacks is actually very radioactive as well, possibly dirtier than nuclear waste. Per GWh, I expect it's even worse for coal.

That's not even counting all the other nasties that come out of burning coal (carcinogenic nanoparticles, exotic hydrocarbons, sulphur, never mind the CO2) and the kind of coal that Germany has (lignite) is the worst of the worst for all of these.

So let's all build Biomass power plants & burn trees imported on from South America on Diesel boats. That sounds like a better idea Eh?

Seriously though, the real trouble with nuclear is that nobody will define a "safe limit" for radiation. (A sensible level might be the background levels in naturally high-background areas such as Cornwall, where people have thrived for centuries) (cue Cornish jokes). Instead, we have "ALARA" and the "Linear No-Threshold Model" which make the assumption that any release of radioactivity, however small (even 100s of times below the background level) is going to harm *something*, and that ANY measure to reduce it, however expensive, is *legally* mandated. This only applies to the "nuclear" sector of course, and if the fossil fuels sector were held to the same standard then they would be just as expensive as Nuclear.

I find it odd that people are more afraid of "safe" things going wrong than "unsafe" things operating normally (i.e. killing people every day). "So&So was killed in a plane crash? OMG WTF I WILL NEVER FLY AGAIN!!!1" "So&So died in a car accident? MEH! Cars Do That."

I can only assume it's a "fear of the unknown" thing, and that until the general population become nuclear physicists, everyone who isn't will always fear this invisible yet eminently detectable poison.

The nice thing about nuclear power is that all the waste is nicely contained in one place, which makes it easy to clean up (contrast to fossil fuels where its spread all over the flipping atmosphere). And the nice thing about radioactive waste is that it is detectable from a mile off, making it easy to spot. But therefore a nightmare for OCD sufferers perhaps?

** DISCLAIMER: I DO work in the nuclear sector, although not in Fission Power. I work on Remote Handling robots that clean up all the Sperm Germs that everyone is so afraid of **

7
2

F-35s failed 'scramble test' because of buggy software

cyberdemon
Facepalm

Stability Event

> I think this translates to "on average, one blue-screen-of-death every 15 hours".

Funny.. The way I read it was "on average, one BSOD-free bootup every 15 hours"

I thought the whole idea of super-expensive "military grade" (lol) software was that it is supposed to be deterministic!

7
0

Linux greybeards release beta of systemd-free Debian fork

cyberdemon
Devil

Re: Perhaps you were downvoted

Blarg. I knew that Ubuntu were the reason that systemd got forced into Debian, but I wasn't aware they were part of the whole LSB madness. I'd have thought that would be shooting themselves in the foot, given that their strength comes from Debian. If they really threw their weight behind LSB, then they would have to ditch APT/DPKG in favour of Yum/RPM.

But I wouldn't put that past Shuttleworth & co.

Personally I've only ever used Debian, since before Ubuntu was a thing, but neither my beard nor my hair are grey (yet).

Hard-core anti red-hat not just for systemd, but for LSB as a whole. The money from free-software thing only partially - everyone has to make a living - but I tend to distrust those with an axe to grind, especially when it has negative impacts on MY software @:

And that applies just as much to Canonical too.

6
2
cyberdemon
Devil

"systemd isn't just popular because of Red Hat...."

Actually, it's popular because of the so-called "Linux Standards Base", which was a circlejerk between RedHat, Intel, and Microsoft.

The intention was to create "binary-compatibility" within Linux, so that proprietary, closed-source software (and, presumably, malware) would have an easier time. It's completely contrary to what GNU are trying to do, and for this reason, Debian was late (or not invited) to the party.

LSB standardised a lot of things, and it all came from RedHat.

This is why, for example, that MeeGo (which is the abomination that replaced Nokia's Maemo OS) went with RPM instead of DPKG (deb/apt) for package-management, because RPM is specified by the LSB.

That doesn't mean that RPM/Yum is better than DPKG/Apt. It just got standardised by the LSB.

Consequently, Debian and Ubuntu are "non-compliant" until they adopt RPM format. They are fudging it with 'Alien', but eventually Debian will die thanks to the LSB.

Personally, I would love to go back to a time before Systemd. It has given me nothing but problems.

I also, for a while, used Trinity - a backport of KDE 3.5 onto QT4. I stopped using it when KDE4 became stable and usable.

Now that Plasma5 is being forced down my throat, with a shedload of bugs, I would love a backport of KDE4!

Next you'll be telling me to move from X11 to Wayland.

31
12

The case for ethical ad-blocking

cyberdemon
Linux

Just block JavaScript

Use NoScript (firefox), ScriptNo (chrome), etc.

None of the "bad" ads work, including all that jump-in-your-face noisy pop-over bollocks, and the insidious mouse-pointer-tracking shite. Most of the "normal" ones are gone too, but they were all surreptitiously tracking your activity.

The only ads that remain, are plain HTML images with HREFs.

I call this kind of ad-blocking "ethical" because if a website owner honestly wants to promote someone else's product, without using some parasitic ad-network with a shedload of ulterior data-mining motives, then he still can. He or the ad-network just has to take all the crap out and it'll work fine.

The problem is that the ad-networks pay websites more because they are making money out of slurping and mining user's data (perhaps more than they are paid by advertisers for marketing their products). THAT's what's unethical if you ask me.

The downside is that some badly-designed most websites break until you whitelist their javascript (but not their ad-network's). But it's pretty easy to spot which scripts are legit and which are ad-networks just by the domain they are coming from. And pages load faster too.

5
2

More and more Brits are using ad-blockers, says survey

cyberdemon
Go

I don't use an ad blocker

But I still don't see those nasty flashy-background ads on The Register (unless i'm on someone else's computer, in which case my first reaction is 'eww').

The reason I don't see them is purely *because* the ads are so intrusive - they are running a whole load of javascript either to jump in your face or to slurp up your data (Mouse pointer tracking, anyone? Where's my tinfoil hat?)

As I say, I don't use adblock. But I DO use a whitelist Javascript blocker (ScriptSafe for Chrome). This *breaks* most bad ads (including those on El Reg, and of course Google's innocuous-looking but data-slurping ones) but lets the "good" ads through. I.e. those which are a simple HTML image with a hyperlink. Those nasty ones that slow this site down just don't load, because they are pulled in by a script that doesn't get run. So the page loads much faster too.

The only downside is that it breaks functionality on some websites (especially badly written ones) until I whitelist a whole domain. I often have to hunt a bit for the "functionality" scripts on a page, avoiding those which are "anti-functionality". But it's a small price to pay IMO for avoiding having my data slurped, and not seeing intrusive ads.

1
0

What a bum note: Violin's shares perform financial diminuendo

cyberdemon
Coat

Cue...

The violins.

1
0

Terror in the Chernobyl dead zone: Life - of a wild kind - burgeons

cyberdemon
Mushroom

Re: Chernobyl was a weapons reactor

I'm not sure where the link between positive void coefficient and weapons has been made..

TBH my best guess is that Mr. Pournelle is mistaken, having made the assumption that because it's a banned design, then it must have been for weapons.

Positive Void Coefficient means that when the coolant inside a reactor boils away (creating "voids" of steam), then the power output actually goes UP, because the coolant was also a neutron absorber, which regulates the speed of the reaction. It is fundamentally a Bad Thing To Do, whether you are making weapons OR power. It is one of the main reasons why the reaction at Chernobyl went out of control.

All modern reactors are specifically designed so that the coolant forms part of the neutron *moderator* rather than *absorber* - (a neutron moderator speeds up the reaction by slowing down neutrons without absorbing them, bringing them to the correct energy level where they are most likely to collide with a U235 atom and continue the chain reaction) - thus a loss of coolant in a modern reactor intrinsically results in a slowing down of the chain reaction. This is called a Negative Void Coefficient.

That's the reason Positive Void Coefficients are banned in the US. Nothing to do with weapons.

1
0

Oracle and Xamarin flutter eyelashes at suits with native app deal

cyberdemon
Coat

Were you reading the article?

Or were you looking at the woman in the red dress?

El Reg really needs to quit with all these worthless clickb.. no nevermind forget it.

Mine's the leather trenchcoat with twice my weight in guns in the pockets..

0
0

Smart meters set to cost Blighty as much as replacing Trident

cyberdemon
Boffin

Re: Never mind Nuclear Weapons

Yes - I do still work in the nuclear industry - although in the public sector, so I don't have a 'commercial' interest as such.. I'm actually in robotics rather than nuclear power/physics itself - the robots which go inside the radioactive areas - "so You don't have to".

Olkiluoto, Flamanville etc as I'm sure you know are hugely over budget, but I think they will succeed.

As for fusion - it's a nice idea - but if you ask my personal opinion, I think if the money we have invested in fusion were to have been put into testing better fission reactor designs (MSRs for example) then we would be a LOT better off. Fusion is safer than fission for sure (if the safest thing is to stop producing power forthwith, at the smallest opportunity) but there is still "low level" waste, e.g. the gloves and overalls that workers have worn when they have been in an area which has undetectably, low but unprovably nonexistent contamination. That is because of the ridiculous state the legislation is in, and it is precisely WHY nuclear is so expensive. Imagine if the fossil fuel and chemical industries had the same limitations on emissions: Where every last atom of heavy metals, nanoparticles etc they pump out, must be accounted for. But since a mass spectrometer is a hell of a lot more expensive per atom detected than a Geiger counter, nobody bothers.

In all honesty, I think fission is a LOT safer than most people believe. Those posters above, for example, advocating the construction of more nuclear subs: What do you suppose happens when a nuclear sub gets hit by a torpedo? If the same amount of radioactive material were released by a civilian power plant, then there would be a nuclear incident with the scale and cost of Chernobyl. Everybody panics, people DIE due to the evacuation (not because of the radiation), and the planet suffers, because we now need more fossil fuels to replace all the nuclear plants we just closed on a knee-jerk.

As for a policy on declaration of interest? Well I could always have gone AC like yourself!

RE: "Too Cheap To Meter"

You're right that it doesn't work in the current political and regulatory climate - but there's nothing to say it COULDN'T happen. If, for example, we were allowed to build nuclear power stations underwater (like nuclear subs!) and put the waste at very, very deep parts of the sea (subduction zones perhaps?) then nuclear would certainly be "Too Cheap to Meter". But of course, humanity would rather choke to death than pay any thought to that bogeyman.. At least not until they are *actually* choking to death.

When the world gets so hot that people start to need air conditioning to survive, then you can bet there will be de-regulation of nuclear power. But of course that will be too late. Most of our species will be extinct, and most of civilisation will have collapsed.

2
0
cyberdemon
Mushroom

Never mind Nuclear Weapons

What we need is Nuclear Power!

If people would come to their senses about nuclear power (that it is cleaner, 'greener', and safer than basically everything else) then we would hardly need meters, let alone 'smart' ones!

Yes I know nuclear is expensive - but is a lot more expensive than it needs to be - Nuclear companies are forced by law to keep emissions "As Low As Reasonably Achievable" (ALARA) that is to say, they are forced to lower emissions even when there is absolutely no reason to. They set themselves stupid targets like 100GBq tritium per year (for scale, 1GBq tritium is found inside one of those glow-in-the-dark keyfobs - tritium is basically harmless) so when they find something unexpected and go over their arbitrary target, people think there has been a major incident when in fact there hasn't.

Nuclear installations are forced to go to ridiculous lengths (like quadruple-redundant dosimetry of personnel) to keep already insignificantly low doses of radiation even lower.

All this when there is no evidence at all to say that low doses of radiation are actually harmful - there are even some scientists that think low doses are beneficial ("hormesis" effect) and nobody has been able to prove them wrong.

Meanwhile coal, oil and biomass plants are belching out tonne after tonne of carcinogens, nanoparticles, even radiation (more than nuclear plants), and that's when they are operating NORMALLY!

I think there is a big case for relaxing the rules around nuclear power to make it less expensive, but it seems to be something of a taboo subject!

All of this irrational fear of radiation is just going to allow the fossil fuel barons, climate change denialists, and biomass bandits to destroy the planet.

8
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