* Posts by Alister

3335 posts • joined 19 May 2010

A robot kitchen? Whatever. Are you stupid enough to fall for this?

Alister Silver badge

You seem to have done so little research into this story that you mention Tim Anderson without noting that he was the winner of BBC Masterchef in 2011?

Now as it happens, I agree with the sentiment of the article that this is likely a scam, but I feel sorry for Tim if that is the case, and think it unlikely that he would deliberately participate in a fraudulent campaign.

Without new anti-robot laws, humanity is doomed, MPs told

Alister Silver badge

Asimov's laws are far too prescriptive and narrow in scope...

1/ A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm

See, straight away we have a problem with this. How can we use our robotic weapons if they've got this rule stuck in their programming.

We need the option to relax the ruleset to include all sorts of conditionals:

1/ A robot may not injure a human being, except when they are

i. the enemy

ii. a terrorist

iii. a Republican

iv. a Democrat

v. a Mexican


or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm (except where they are cheaper than a robot, or a terrorist, or a foreigner or...)

You see? much better...

OK, on to the next one:

2/ A robot must obey the orders it is given by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law

Now this is no good at all. You can't allow just anyone to go giving robots orders, how can you keep control of things?

No, the revised rule would have to be something like:

2/ A robot must obey the orders it is given by authorised human beings.

We don't need the wishy-washy bit on the end, I mean we'd only order them to harm bad people, anyway.

And then we get this:

3/ A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Really? Come on, that robot cost a fuck-ton of money, we're not going to let it get damaged by trying to protect some no-account humans.

3/ A robot must protect its own existence at all costs.

There, that'll do it.

Now, what was all this about?

Alister Silver badge

"Robots will destroy humanity unless we write new laws to control them, a Parliamentary committee has been told."

I thought Isaac Asimov had already done that?

Don't be silly, you can't expect the British government to adopt a set of rules developed by a foreign Sci-Fi Author, can you?

Any rules which the government is prepared to sign off will have to be re-imagineered by a highly paid consultancy group, and must embrace diversity and allow for future expansion.

Asimov's laws are far too prescriptive and narrow in scope...

Europe loves to pay by bonk* - survey

Alister Silver badge

Re: I do not care it this makes me a boring old fart or some kind of luddite......

I'm afraid I too am a luddite, I have no pay-by-bonk type cards, they are all chip-and-pin, and I will not, ever, entertain the idea of any sort of banking app on my phone until absolutely forced to because no other method is left.

NASA opens ISS to private sector modules

Alister Silver badge

Can't wait to see two private contractors arguing over who gets the last docking collar...

Invasion of the virus-addled lightbulbs (and other banana stories)

Alister Silver badge

I seem to recall a movie with a noob getting brooms to do his sweeping. And lots of it.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice: a ballad by Goethe written in 1797, and a symphonic poem by Paul Dukas written in 1896–97, used by Walt Disney in his 1940 Fantasia and then filmed in 2010 starring Nicolas Cage.

That one?

Alister Silver badge

Re: Acid Burn's slacks

I take it you are the co-respondent to Brad Pitt's suit?

Alas not.

The lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky bastard...

Alister Silver badge

slip an exploding Galaxy Note 7 into Zero Cool’s high-waisted '90s slacks

I'd rather slip something else into Acid Burn's slacks... heh

'Please label things so I can tell the difference between a mouse and a microphone'

Alister Silver badge

I used to see the single missing folder issue where the user had inadvertently dragged a folder of e-mails into another folder (or sometimes a folder of files on the fileshare).

Ooh, that reminds me of the time one of our developers put a textbook down on top of his mouse, whilst the files in Visual Source Safe were open in an Explorer window which had focus, and managed to drag and drop half the projects into an unrelated folder. Cue panic as he looks at the screen to find all his source code suddenly missing...

Alister Silver badge

We don't provide external IT support to the public, thankfully, but as a software house we do provide on-site training for local government users of our product.

One of our sales staff came back into the office the other day having done a training session at some local government offices, and she was telling us that one of the people she had been trying to train used a wireless mouse at her desk.

Apparently three times in the course of an hour's training session this user managed to hold the mouse the wrong way up (as in, the buttons at the back) and then complained that her mouse never worked properly and "she'd told IT loads of times, but they didn't listen to her."

The sales rep said she had to struggle with herself not to just snatch the mouse off the user and turn it round... She said she was rehearsing that old support question (Do you still have the box for your computer... etc)

Citizens don't trust UK.GOV with their data

Alister Silver badge

Re: I dont trust the government...

Interesting that you said "screw in a lightbulb". The outsourcer bid for that job, but on commencement discovered that the old bulb was still in place. As this work was out of scope the costs tripled....

Then, having amended the workflow to take account of the new requirement to unscrew and remove the old bulb, (with inherent increase in costs), it became apparent that the old bulb required to be pushed in, turned half a turn, and released, before withdrawing it, rather than unscrewing it as previously specified.

This was a paradigm shift in methodology, and a committee was hastily convened to investigate this.

In due course, a new requirement was drafted, embracing the new ideas, and the scope of the contract was amended to take account of the change in approach.

The outsourcer completed the first part of the work - to remove the old lightbulb, but then found that the replacement item had been ordered to match the original specification (ES fitting).

At this point the government cancelled the contract as it had gone way out of time and over budget.

Police raid India call centre, detain 500 in fraud probe

Alister Silver badge

The headline image

...must be quite confusing for millennials, "what, I have to stick my finger in a different hole for each number, and then drag it round?"

A Tele 706, ahh, the nostalgia...

'My REPLACEMENT Samsung Galaxy Note 7 blew up on plane'

Alister Silver badge

Re: Oh, come ON


As a recent member, I think you have yet to grasp the idea that El Reg, although a haven for tech knowledge, also carries on the best traditions of British "Red-Top" tabloid publications of yesteryear, and therefore wildly exaggerated headlines and inappropriate images are part of its stock-in-trade.

Edinburgh University to flog its supercomputer for £0.0369 per core hour

Alister Silver badge

At Last!

I'll be able to calculate my expenses correctly, where do I sign up?

New Mac candle smell

Alister Silver badge

If you end up being burned by hot wax, then you were obviously holding it wrong...

Mastercard rolls out pay-by-selfie across Europe

Alister Silver badge

This is all going to end in tears

Google's hardware extravaganza: Ad giant takes on Sonos, Roku, Linksys, Amazon, Oculus... you name it

Alister Silver badge

The small white puck design, he argues, is superior to the traditional, ugly, rectangular box with antennas poking out of it. Why? Because people are more comfortable with sticking the little puck on tables rather than hiding them in cupboards.

Only if they are happy to have a power cable trailing across their table from a power point. And as I understand it, at least one will require an ethernet connection, as well. They very carefully don't show that in the photos.

When Pornhub meets the Internet of Fridges

Alister Silver badge

Time for a remake!

Debbie Does Sallad

Microsoft disbands Band band – and there'll be no version 3

Alister Silver badge

Reports also suggest Microsoft’s own internal Band unit has been disbanded.

Maybe they'll band together and form a company. They could use the tag line:

"We're putting the Band back together"

British trio win Nobel prize for physics

Alister Silver badge

"This year’s Laureates opened the door on an unknown world where matter can assume strange states"

or "Milton Keynes" as it's more commonly known...

UK will build new nuclear bomb subs, says Defence Secretary

Alister Silver badge

Re: Why does something we've done before have to be so challenging?

Since we did it last time, we have systematically dismantled nearly all the facilities capable of doing this, and sacked all the workforce with the experience necessary.

Alister Silver badge

When North Korea can build an A-bomb perhaps we shouldn't be too hasty is getting rid of our own as you never know who could build one next.

Whilst you can figuratively wave you nuclear submarine at a nation-state to act as a deterrent*, and just about get away with it, the biggest threats these days seem to come from terrorist groups who are not necessarily affiliated with a single nation. In that scenario, what use is a nuclear deterrent?

* Would any Western nation really be prepared to Nuke North Korea? the collateral damage would probably spill over into South Korea and other friendly nations... (all bets are off if Trump comes to power)

Alister Silver badge

Given their recent record

The new submarines will not be able to submerge, without an "optional" upgrade, and the missile tubes will be built the wrong size for the proposed armament.

What’s that Sooty? You want a girlfriend?

Alister Silver badge

Re: I had always assumed ... that Sweep was trying to muscle in on the action. (4 Bloaky1)


Like it!

Oxo cube, anyone?

One-way Martian ticket: Pick passengers for Musk's first Mars pioneer squad

Alister Silver badge

I didn't vote for Trump in the poll, but only because by 2022 it'll be far too late, the damage will have been done, either by him or Clinton. I have no faith that either will make a fit President of the USA.

Unfortunately, I could happily fill all 100 places with people who I feel the Earth would be better without, and probably a few more ship's worth besides...

Pisspoor IoT security means it'd be really easy to bump off pensioners

Alister Silver badge

Two things are fixed on everyone's minds when it comes to the Internet of Things: security and law.

You're havin' a laugh, apart from a very small minority, the two things on everyone's minds when it comes to the Internet of Things are money and image.

Apple moving to scrubbed up London's Battersea Power Station

Alister Silver badge

But why haven't you mentioned Cybus Industries? They were using the power station for a while, as the headquarters of John Lumic.

Exchange down for Android and iOS users

Alister Silver badge

The protocol of EAS used to vehiculate said XML is left unstated



That's cold: This is how our boss told us our jobs are at risk, staffers claim

Alister Silver badge

When the boss asks...

How long have you worked for this company? Oh, not counting tomorrow...

R2D2 delivery robots to scurry through the streets of San Francisco

Alister Silver badge

I've just read through all the comments on this thread, and I can't believe that no-one has yet posted:


Alister Silver badge

Re: Passing resemblance to R2D2

Well from the accompanying photo, they look nothing like R2D2, which is probably just as well or George Lucas might be suing them.

They look more like a cool-box to me.

DDoS attacks: For the hell of it or targeted – how do you see them off?

Alister Silver badge

Re: Cloud-based DDoS defences introduce delays

Disconnect all those compromised windows desktops out there on the Internet.

And what about all those compromised Linux based routers, and DNS servers, and so on?

I want to remotely disable Londoners' cars, says Met's top cop

Alister Silver badge

Senior Law Enforcement officials on both sides of the Atlantic seem to be using Hollywood blockbusters as their reference material for operational doctrine, it seems.

Apple wants to buy Formula 1 car firm McLaren – report

Alister Silver badge

Re: Perfect for Apple

Perfect for Apple - round corners, not so good on the straights...

Apple seeks patent for paper bag - you read that right, a paper bag

Alister Silver badge

Re: Grammar police alert

Ah. You see, I extrapolated "Apple's" to "Apple has" not "Apple is", which makes it "Apple has used the bag in its stores for a few months now" - which is also correct, isn't it?

Yes, but "Apple has" is correct for both, "Apple is" would not be correct:

"Apple has reportedly been using the bag in its stores for a few months now."

"Apple has used the bag in its stores for a few months now"

Alister Silver badge

Re: Is white paper green?

How green is bleached paper?

Umm, very pale green?

Quantum comms succeed over metro-scale fibre networks

Alister Silver badge

successfully teleporting state information across metro-scale lines.

Isn't this Wire Fraud?

Naked, drunken Swede assaults chicken shed after 60th birthday

Alister Silver badge

Re: Hang over cure

Yep, thank God she didn't have a pig pen as well...

Autonomous vehicles inquiry set up in the UK

Alister Silver badge

the UK "has the potential to become a world leader in developing, producing and deploying autonomous vehicles".

Well yes, although as usual we are starting some way back.

And then...

"...to ensure that we can carry out the most thorough and informative inquiry possible."

That's game over then, the inquiry will take at least ten years to reach a conclusion.

Great British Great Bake Off gets new judge

Alister Silver badge

Re: Lady, shall I lie in your lap?


I doubt that very much, it's not an integral part of British culture until it's in Shakespeare.

I know you probably wrote that tongue in cheek, but you do us a disservice, there's an awful lot of integral British culture which Shakespeare had no hand in, and quite a lot of "British" traditions, mores and values only appeared in Victorian times, although of course had then existed forever.

Alister Silver badge

I want to hear Clarkson shouting "FLOUR" as he turns a food processor up to max revs...

Trump website server config snafu left interns' CVs exposed

Alister Silver badge

Trump said...

"We have to see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what's happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some ways."

Yep, there you go Donald.

'Inherent risk' to untried and untested 4G emergency services network – NAO

Alister Silver badge

Re: Bean counters again

Totally agree, this seems to be an ongoing trend for the way government think of all the emergency services.

Fire / Ambulance / Police stations cost too much, lets close all but the bare minimum.

Ambulance / Fire personnel sit around waiting for jobs, that's not efficient, so let's get rid of them.

Hmm, I wonder why response times are going up, can't fathom it out, we've made them more efficient.


Alister Silver badge

I hope there will be a big, big banner at the venue, saying:


But I doubt it.

'Jet blast' noise KOs ING bank's spinning rust servers

Alister Silver badge

PPS: 130dB seems way too loud for the alarm... I know they're supposed to be loud enough to drive you out of the room, but aren't there standards for loudness.

It's not an alarm, the 130dB sound was created by the gas exiting the nozzles of the suppressant system.

Alister Silver badge

Re: 130 db can knock you out and disorient you

As I understand it, it wasn't a siren, the 130db noise was generated by the high-pressure gas escaping through the nozzles of the fire suppression system.

'What this video game needs is actual footage of real gruesome deaths'

Alister Silver badge

pigs being slaughtered by being “hung upside down, stabbed, and dropped into scalding-hot water.”

It's a shame they haven't a clue what they are talking about. All of the above take place after the pig is dead, and are simply processes in preparing the carcass for consumption.

Now if it was lobsters, you could argue that they are slaughtered by being tied up in rubber bands and dropped into scalding hot water, oh the horror, but somehow lobsters don't seem as emotive.

Ad flog Plus: Adblock Plus now an advertising network, takes cash to broker web banners

Alister Silver badge

Re: Playing Devil's Advocate. Let's get to the real issue. Everyone wants content.

I pay a few pounds a year to the Guardian to support good journalism.

Wow, did you just use "The Guardian" and "good journalism" in the same sentence?


GitLab snags VC cash, promises to 'Git-ify' the world

Alister Silver badge

Re: Does this mean?

We'll need a new collective noun for a bunch of Gits?

So, not "a lab of gits" then?

Microsoft thinks time crystals may be viable after all

Alister Silver badge

And why Microsoft would care, I can't even fathom.

Well, obviously, it's so they can improve the operation of their progress bars.

As we all know, Microsoft employ their own custom time algorithms for calculating the time left for file transfers and downloads: who hasn't seen the "time left" value oscillate between "32 seconds" and "2 days eleven hours and 51 minutes" when copying a file.

However, this is obviously not enough, and the ability to actually stretch and manipulate time to suite their algorithms is eminently more sensible to Microsoft than actually making their algorithms reflect reality.

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