* Posts by veti

3015 posts • joined 25 Mar 2010

What employs half a million people, just did $44bn in sales, and rhymes with Azerbaijan?

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I don't know

Since when does Amazon rhyme with Azerbaijan?

Whois? No, Whowas: Incoming Euro privacy rules torpedo domain registration system

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"Whois" is already basically worthless

... to anyone but a lawyer, anyway, given the nonexistent quality control/fact checking of the data.

If you actually want to know who a domain belongs to - then you're dependent on whoever registered it having acted in good faith and entered truthful information. Often, they do. But sometimes, particularly when they have something nefarious in mind - they don't. They'll enter the data of a personal or political or business enemy, or a nonexistent person.

And there's pretty much nothing to prevent this, apart from the minimal amount of effort it takes to do.

If you're an IP lawyer, who wants to cover your arse by writing to a domain owner asking for permission to rip off their content - then that doesn't matter. You can write, and when they don't respond within a reasonable time, you can say you've done your due diligence. It's meaningless, but you've done it. Go you.

But if you're absolutely anyone else, just trying to find out who owns domain.com - it's useless.

Fake-news-monetizing machine Facebook lectures hacks on how not to write fake news that made it millions

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Re: Good idea

@Big John: It's true that there is good writing, but that's not the most important point of journalism. The most important role traditional journalists used to play was not in writing the news, but curating it. Reporting the things (they judged) their readers needed or wanted to know, and not wasting their time with everything else.

Facebook and Google are both trying to do that now, and Facebook is closer to succeeding than Google. There are still major issues with the online model (most problematically: newsfeeds "customised" to the user means that you will never know what "news" someone else has or hasn't been exposed to), but it's currently the only plausible place to insert some kind of firewall between the user and the deluge of clickbait.

@Ledswinger: To be fair, the Economist offers me a digital subscription for £240 for one year. And that drops considerably further if I'm willing to pay for 3 years up front.

But then, their paywall is trivial to circumvent anyway.

The Independent is a sad case. It used to be my daily paper of choice, back in the days when I had such a thing. Now it still has some great writers, but the editorial team has been allowed to co-opt the whole thing into... not exactly an ideological mouthpiece, more like an apologetic (in the old sense of the word) propaganda rag for the metropolitan elite. Almost every story is shamelessly spun toward that single axis. So shamelessly that it's actually intrusive, now.

The Guardian is not bad, for news. (It's often better at covering my home country's news than the native press.) The BBC is OK, although the obsession with video gets more irritating every week - there's less and less actual content shown on the home page. The Telegraph's paywall seems to me to be mostly for clickbait - if you don't want to read those articles, most of the actual news is outside it.

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Good idea

No, seriously.

Nobody can regulate the press. It's some combination of illegal, politically suicidal and logically impossible.

But there's nothing to stop someone like Facebook from creating a code of conduct for publishers, and then sanctioning those who refuse to follow it by cutting their audience.

Will they be perfect? Of course not. (What is? Seriously. If your objection is "I don't want Facebook making that decision", then who do you want making it? "Informed and educated readers" is no answer; that's like saying "if we lived in a perfect world we wouldn't need this shit", which is true of everything and helpful to nothing.)

If there's any way of dragging journalism back out from the abyss of clickbait and trolling that it's fallen into, it's going to be something like this. Something that goes straight to their bottom line.

Australia Bureau of Statistics may wind back internet usage data collection

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That would be "policy-based evidence".

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Double standard, or just saving effort?

Is this the same government that requires its ISPs to store all their users' complete internet histories for 2 years? Why, I believe it is. And the government itself can't even afford to store a few statistics?

I guess if you can trawl through everyone's internet histories, then a separate survey of internet usage becomes redundant...?

There's a battle on over two US spying laws: One allows snooping on citizens – one bans it

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It's not just that it's a foot in the door. The US constitution itself recognises that - except for a few extremely specific, limited purposes - it's inherently unjust to treat "citizens" any differently from "non-citizens".

The 14th amendment says "No state shall... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." And the Supreme Court says (historically, at least) that this provision also binds the federal government.

I've always thought this is the provision that's meant to discourage the citizenry from fascism. If there is anything that an American agent, on American soil, can lawfully do to an illegal immigrant or a foreign spy, then they can also do it to a born citizen.

After all - in practice, exactly how are they supposed to tell the difference anyway?

Let's make the coppers wear cameras! That'll make the ba... Oh. No sodding difference

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Re: Rational vs irrational behaviour

Thank you for a note of reason.

Policing is hard. Most mistakes are honest ones. Sure there will be exceptions, and they'll get all the attention - but to mistake the exceptions for the rule is one of the basic fallacies.

Google faces $10k-a-day fines if it defies court order to hand over folks' private overseas email

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Re: The real story...

It's probable - no, make that certain - that MS has an actual written policy that states exactly how long emails will be retained on a dormant account. Doing something like that outside of that policy may lay them open to whole new kinds of legal trouble.

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Re: Why not make it a fair bet ...

There is such a thing as "making an honest mistake".

Note, I'm not saying that's what this case is - I know nothing about it. Just that the "trying to pull a fast one" conclusion does not follow.

In general, it's not a good idea to punish people for making honest mistakes. It's a way to get a workforce that is increasingly both demoralised and unscrupulous.

Facebook, Google and pals may be hit with TV political ads rules

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The law doesn't say anything about mentioning candidates or parties. Just that you have to say who paid for the ad.

Really, I don't see why that requirement shouldn't apply to all ads, political or not.

Of course all it means in practice is that the sneakier politicians, i.e. most of them, set up more-or-less-arms-length shell companies whose purpose is to pay for ads on their behalf, with names like "Americans for Motherhood & Apple Pie" - but even that gives you somewhere to start looking.

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Re: Just wondering

Depends on the laws of those countries.

It's fair enough for the US government to pass laws about what goes on in the USA. What goes on in, say, Egypt - is for the Egyptian government to worry/make laws about.

Hate to break it to you, but billions of people can see Uranus tonight

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Excellent news

... But you could at least tell us a bit more about where to look for it. Which Zodiac sign is it in?

Cue "couldn't find Uranus with a map and a telescope" jokes...

Microsoft concedes to Mozilla: Redmond will point web API docs at Moz Dev Network

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It's a wiki. If you think you can explain it better, or at least differently - go nuts, there's nothing stopping you.

NYC cops say they can't reveal figures on cash seized from people – the database is too shoddy

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Re: So if they don't know what they've taken

Doesn't need to be someone who's actually had stuff seized, either. Anyone could make that claim.

Someone tell David Davis, he was looking for a way to come up with $40 billion in a hurry...

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Re: How seizure laws ever stood --

Both the 4th and 5th amendments contain weasel wording designed to give maximum wiggle-room to the plod.

The 4th bars "unreasonable" search and seizure. Who's to say what's "unreasonable"? Well, a court obviously. If you can square the courts, you're clear.

The 5th requires "due process of law", but doesn't say anything about what form that "due process" should take. There's nothing (in this context) about a jury, or grand jury, or even a warrant. If the law says "police can grab whatever they like, provided they give you a receipt scrawled on the back of a takeaway menu", then that is "due process" and the 5th has nothing to say about it.

Australia's IoT security rating might work, if done right

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"You need updates continuously"

If that's true, I suspect you're doing something wrong.

If it can be patched, it can be rooted.

If it can't be patched - then at least it might take hackers a leetle longer to enlist it to a DDOS network.

No, the FCC can't shut down TV stations just because Donald Trump is mad at the news

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Re: Actually

As William Russell said to Lord Lucan, of his conduct of the Crimean War: "If you don't want me to report all the damned silly things you are doing, my lord, my advice to you is not to do them!"

(Misquoted from memory, but the spirit is accurate.)

Ah, for those days when journalists had a bit of spirit...

Man prosecuted for posting a picture of his hobby on Facebook

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Re: Police Scotland = Morons with time on their hands

Apologies for the DM link, but I doubt that the Telegraph and Guardian will be covering that.

A quick MacGoogle could have told you, that story has been covered not only by the Telegraph, but also by the BBC and The Times.

Boffins suggest UK needs an 'AI council' but regulation is for squares

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We don't have an objective definition of what *any* "intelligence" actually means, so does that mean we should ban childbearing as well?

The classical Turing test has the right idea: it just needs more components. If a system acts like it's "intelligent", then it is intelligent, end of story. The mere fact that we still can't precisely define what makes it intelligent, shouldn't prevent us from recognising it.

Supreme Court to rule on whether US has right to data stored overseas

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The DOJ has every right to rule on how American companies behave, subject to the courts. This case is about which courts are applicable.

Forget about "data" for a moment, let's talk about something physical. Consider, e.g., ExxonMobil's operations in, say, Australia. Those are governed firmly by Australian law: no US court can order the company to drill here or move something there, in violation of Australian law.

This remains true even if all the actual humans involved are American, and all the equipment was manufactured in America and transported on American ships (none of which conditions are likely to be true, but it makes no difference).

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Re: What data did DOJ seek?

What if "citizenship" is part of the data that you're looking for?

Besides, legal discrimination on grounds of citizenship is unconstitutional in itself. Check the 14th amendment.

US Congress mulls first 'hack back' revenge law. And yup, you can guess what it'll let people do

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Re: erm isn't this what law enforcement is for?

And I wanted to have a bot do it, automagically. DAMMIT!

No problem, you can have your bot submit the paperwork to the FBI at the same time as it launches the retaliatory strike. The whole process doesn't need to take more than a few seconds.

There's no mention of "waiting for the FBI to respond" to your notification.

Calm down, Elon. Deep learning won't make AI generally intelligent

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Re: There is Intelligence - AI is an approach not an outcome

The trouble with that, as a definition of intelligence, is that it's purely internal. So the only person who can truly know if you are intelligent - is you.

Based on that, it's not at all clear how we could tell if we had created a "true" intelligence.

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Re: Bishop Bollocks

Yes, there's more going on in the brain than you can model with a neural net. The brain and the body are intrinsically connected in profound ways: electronic and chemical processes from all parts of the body affect what goes on in the brain. That's why drugs are a thing.

But that doesn't mean we can't, in principal, model all those processes as well, if we want to.

But the question of what happens if we build a sufficiently complex neural net, and then don't give it those sorts of connections, is to me even more interesting. If we built a brain without a body - a brain that has no concept of what it means to feel hungry or tired or cold or horny - what, exactly, would it think about?

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You seem to be implying that just because we can't "model" chaotic systems, we also can't create them.

If that were true, there'd be no such thing as "life". Chaos is an emergent property: it's something that happens despite a designer's best efforts, not because of them.

Video games used to be an escape. Now not even they are safe from ads

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Re: 407000 words? A transparent farce

It's easier than that, really.

What we need is a court ruling that the process of installing software on a computer, or running software once so installed, is not in itself an act of "copying", and therefore not subject to copyright law.

Then all EULAs will be rendered dead letters at a stroke.

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I've already decided never to buy from RobCo.

Or Vault-Tec.

And as for Nuka-Cola - haven't touched the stuff in years.

It's 4PM on Friday, almost time to log off and, oh look, Disqus says it's been hacked

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Maybe, but El Reg has yet to have its user list hacked.

As far as we know.

How long do you think it would take them to notice, if it happened? And how long after that to inform us?

I think Disqus comes out of this story pretty well, by notifying promptly. OK, on a Friday, but guess what? - the weekend is actually a pretty good time for most of us to deal with these things. Disqus is unlikely to be a mission-critical work account for most people.

How bad can the new spying legislation be? Exhibit 1: it's called the USA Liberty Act

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Which part of "the equal protection of the laws" do people not understand?

If there is a law that says "US citizens enjoy these protections, and foreigners in the same situation don't" - that law is already unconstitutional. The lawmakers who voted for it, and the president who signed it, all deserve impeachment on those grounds alone.

If the 4th amendment collides with the 14th, something's gotta give. And that "something" will be determined by whoever is making the judgment call that day. Guess how that's going to go?

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Re: The meaning of words

Anyone who uses the word "liberty", in English at least, deserves extreme suspicion.

"Liberty" is to "freedom" as a Big Mac is to food.

Web uni says it will get you a tech job or your money back. So our man Kieren signed up...

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Re: product manager course

If you've ever put in the time to write a "well constructed email", you should know (1) it can take considerably longer than two hours, and (2) no matter how "well constructed" you think it is, at least one-third of recipients will still misunderstand it.

Given how much attention most people seem to pay to emails, I really can't fault any manager for calling meetings instead.

Russian spies used Kaspersky AV to hack NSA staffer, swipe exploit code – new claim

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Re: Possible ???

My interpretation is that the antivirus tool was doing its job.

Contractor takes home "classified code" (specifically, NSA malware) and runs it on his home computer. Security software detects malware behaviour and sends code back to home base for analysis.

That's called "working as expected". The fact that it's being reported as "Kaspersky being nefarious" says more about the current legislative and propaganda agenda than anything else.

It suits everyone to paint Kaspersky specifically as villains because they're fishing for donations from Symantec et al. And it suits the Democrats doubly so, because Kaspersky are Russians and being rabidly anti-Russian is a thing right now for them, because (they've just noticed, apparently) Putin is as big a thug as Trump.

What is the probability of being drunk at work and also being tested? Let's find out! Correctly

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Re: test frequency

Sheesh, you guys do love to overcomplicate these things...

Testing happens 1 day in 5 ("weekly"). So each time the target comes in drunk, they've got a 20% chance of being tested that day.

If they do it 12 times a year, their chance of getting away with it every time is (0.8 ^ 12 = ) 6.87%.

Home Sec Amber Rudd: Yeah, I don't understand encryption. So what?

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Re: "patronising" techies that "sneered" at politicians

Dear Amber, Try these three simple steps to stop being sneered at:

1. Ask for expert advice

2. Keep asking until you understand the problem

3. Take the advice.

As a side-effect, you may find that the ideas you've been told to promote don't seem so good. That is not a bad thing: maybe those ideas aren't so good. At a minimum, at this point you should go back to the person who gave you those ideas and put some new questions to them; if they do have answers, then take those back to the other expert. Get educated.

Yes, it's hard work, but it's your job.

As a very wise man once wrote: you don't use science to show that you're right, you use science to become right.

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Re: Rudd

So under-16s now can't buy Coca-Cola. Can't see that rule being a big hit with the fast food industry.

Nothing matters any more... Now hapless Equifax bags $7.5m IT contract with US taxmen

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Re: No bid?

At a guess, nobody else wants the job.

Think about it: would you take it? Speaking as a database engineer, I wouldn't touch it with a flamethrower.

Developers' timezone fail woke half of New Zealand

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*Would have been* valuable to residents

Unfortunately, approximately half of them have now turned the feature off on their phones.

The other half have older phones and don't get these notifications anyway.

False alarms cost lives. Just don't do it.

HPE coughed up source code for Pentagon's IT defenses to ... Russia

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Re: Did I understand this right?

Not entirely sure what you're trying to claim here but you're missing key facts. First heartbleed was Open Source working like it's supposed to. Security researcher discovers flaw by analysing the code. Security researcher notifies the developer, it's patched and fixes are pushed.

In each of the stories I linked (Heartbleed was just one of three different stories), the flaw had been deployed in the wild for several years before someone noticed it.

Or at least, before someone officially noticed and publicised it. Who knows how many bad actors had noticed it previously and kept it to themselves?

There's this myth that "many eyes" make OS more secure, and it's just not true - it turns out that about 99.8% of the people who use OS software, never actually look at the source, so it might as well be closed as far as they're concerned. And even if you do review the code yourself, you're very likely to miss the flaws - because they're hard to spot, that's how they got there in the first place.

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Re: Did I understand this right?

Security by obscurity is blown, sure. But then, when it comes to security, open source isn't much better.

Turns out, security is hard. We need to implement RFC 3514 without further unnecessary delay.

Twitter: We also made a shedload of cash from Russia's trolling during US White House race

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Re: Considering how much it costs

Like I already said, the ads are the least of it.

What's the value of having a team of 400 full-time professional trolls undermining your opponent and bolstering your team on every forum, in different personas?

Yes, 100k is a rounding error - compared to what Putin spent on the election.

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Ads are just the tip of the iceberg

It's the trolls that are chewing on the intestines of democracy.

Scared of that new-fangled 'cloud'? Office 2019 to the rescue!

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I presume that's some combination of hysteria and panic?

Boeing slams $2m on the desk, bellows: Now where's my jetpack?

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Re: WTF??

If cars were newly invented today - you and I would never get to drive one.

You'd have to show that you'd completed not only your mandatory training plus X hours of on-road experience, but also sit exams in mechanical theory, legal liability and queuing theory. You'd have to show that you had a safe parking space, and that you knew what routes you planned to take everywhere. Then you'd have to maintain a log of your travel, prove that you'd driven at least 100 hours a year, and re-take the exams every 3 years.

Fortunately (?), cars were grandfathered in from a simpler time. But jetpacks would face all this and more.

Firemen fund sues Uber for dousing shares with gas, tossing in a match

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Re: The plaintiffs admit they believed that crap?

What lies? Seriously. Uber's claims, as listed above, are 100% indisputable, as far as they go.

Of course they're one-sided, self-serving, and ignore a lot of boring details about so-called "laws" and "decency" and "profits", but what else do you expect from a prospectus?

My name is Bill Gates and I am an Android user

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Re: He should be made to use Windows versions of all the crap they make.

Vista and Office 2007? Yeah, I can totally understand why he'd want to give up after that fiasco.

Worst. Release. Ever.

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Re: Windows phones

I'm still using my Lumia 520. Still works fine for me - despite, about three months ago, quietly rebooting and erasing everything that was saved in its memory. Photos, texts, phone numbers, the works

I'm still not amused about that. But what's gone is gone, and splashing out on a new phone won't bring it back. Lesson learned: hard backups.

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Re: Thriller

Elop presided over Nokia's demise, but he wasn't the reason for that demise. That was well underway before he arrived.

In Elop's three years at Nokia, the stock fell by 40%. Of course there's no way to paint that as a glorious achievement - unless, maybe, by comparing it with the previous three years, during which it fell by 75%. Not only share price, but market share and profitability were also in steep decline.

Perhaps worst of all, Nokia's own senior managers and engineers were in complete denial: they firmly believed they were still Number One in the industry. That's what the "burning platform" memo was meant to fix.

CBS's Showtime caught mining crypto-coins in viewers' web browsers

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Re: Whoever gave them the idea?

Thank you, I knew I'd seen this story somewhere before.

Alas that you didn't really patent it...

Hotter than the Sun: JET – Earth’s biggest fusion reactor, in Culham

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Re: scaling up is the answer?

i've come to believe that the tokomak fusion reactor is a technology that's destined to go straight from "experimental" to "obsolete" without ever stopping at "viable". (Much like Uber's business model.)

Solar cell and battery technology are both improving year on year. Currently it's viable for maybe 3% of consumers to go off-grid using this technology. In a couple of years, it'll be 6%. In a couple more, 10%. By 2030, something like 75%. And the tokomak still won't be viable even on an experimental level.

By the time it is working, all our power stations will be burning agricultural waste or methane and actively reducing pollution. Nobody will need a new, big, capital-intensive power station, no matter how clean it is.


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