* Posts by Alister

3263 posts • joined 19 May 2010

Stealthy UK startup drops veil on next frontier of speech wizardry

Alister Silver badge

Re: The Cloud?

Anyone else used speech and search before Google was famous? Like Dragon and Altavista?

I used Microsoft Speech API (v4) to speech enable some software for blind users, back in the late 1990s / early noughties, using both text-to-speech and speech recognition, written in Delphi. I think I used Dragon's voice files for that at one stage but then swapped to Lernout & Hauspie British voices.

Alister Silver badge

So in the context of the headline, it should be lifting the veil, then.

Alister Silver badge

Speaking of learning English, in Britain by convention one would lift the veil to reveal something, not drop the veil.

The phrase comes from the traditional marriage ceremony where the bride's face is veiled until she meets the groom at the alter, at which point the veil is lifted.

F***=off, Google tells its staff: Any mention of nookie now banned from internal files, URLs

Alister Silver badge

Do you think Google's AI knows what a mewling quim is?

Silent running: Computer sounds are so '90s

Alister Silver badge

Re: I still get wound up...


Am I the only one here who understands the definition of TRESPASS in this context to be "entering another person's land or property without permission"?

No you aren't. I understand perfectly, unlike the dimwits above.

You cannot trespass with permission, because if you have permission it is no longer trespass. It's quite clear.

UK.gov to press ahead with online smut checks (but expects £10m in legals in year 1)

Alister Silver badge

solutions should confirm only that a person is aged 18 or over, rather than confirming their identity.


So, as already mentioned, that pretty much only leaves the "Are You 18 or over" checkbox as the solution of choice...

Anything else like Credit Card validation, AdultPass etc would require proof of identity as well.

Take my advice: The only safe ID is a fake ID

Alister Silver badge

Re: Hugh Jorgen

He has a wife you know....

You know what she's called? She's called... 'Incontinentia'...

Incontinentia Buttocks

Alister Silver badge

Re: A different name for every site?


That was the Morris-Men in Lords and Ladies, although they may also have appeared in Wintersmith - same village anyway.

Alister Silver badge

Re: A different name for every site?

@ Antonius_Prime

Thank you, I knew it was there somewhere.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Silly first name.

You mean the spelling changes as the evening wears on?

Starts off "Alastair", but towards the end of the evening, becomes "Wstfgl?!"

Alister Silver badge

Re: A different name for every site?


Yep, I had that in mind too.

My quote "Chlamydia is a very nice name for a girl" is, I'm sure, a Pratchettism, but I'm buggered if I can find it at the moment. I thought it was part of that passage you quoted, but apparently not.

Alister Silver badge

Re: A different name for every site?

Chlamydia is a very nice name for a girl, isn't it? some sort of flower?

Alister Silver badge

Re: Silly first name.

You just need to listen to how it is pronounced, Alistair, Alastair etc.

Except that almost universally, people pronounce my name as my username is spelled, and I'm sure Mr Dabbs gets the same, too. Even if I carefully emphasise the second "A":

Hi, I'm Alastair, pleased to meet you.

Hi Alister.


Alister Silver badge

Silly first name.

I was christened Alastair, but quickly gave up on the idea that anybody - even immediate family - would ever spell it correctly. Birthday cards over the years have been written to any number of variants, so I can probably claim at least 20 pseudonyms.

I have never frequented Starbucks, but were I ever to attempt transactions with one of their baristas, I think I would just accept defeat and go for Fred. Let's see them mess that up!

Oh and did one of your cups say Avast - that's some serious mangling of Alistair!

Powerful forces, bodily fluids – it's all in a day's work

Alister Silver badge

Re: Monitor

Why not, if he'd got one handy? Belt-and-braces diagnostics.

He'd look pretty silly if his "known-good" monitor had decided to die at that moment...

Huge ice blades on Jupiter’s Europa will make it a right pain in the ASCII to land on

Alister Silver badge

Re: Nanny Ogg's space travels

Her favourite song captures the essence of this planet's defence against alien (e.g. human) interference.

A Wizard's staff has a knob on the end?

Shirley not?


On the first day of Christmas my true love gave me tea... pigs-in-blankets-flavoured tea

Alister Silver badge

Re: The King of Vegetables

@I ain't Spartacus.

Is your name Rincewind, by any chance?

Alister Silver badge

Re: Christmas is essentially Page 71 of the Brand New Monty Python Bok

Well said sir, I wholeheartedly endorse your comments.

Christmas should be a thing only in December, not plastered across a quarter of the year.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Sprouts

Sprouts are indeed lovely.

But sprout-flavoured tea? You are effectively drinking cabbage-water...


I find your lack of faith disturbing, IBM: Big Blue fires photon torpedo at Pentagon JEDI cloud contract

Alister Silver badge

Aladdin Sane, Stand Down! You are bound by law!

Russian 'troll factory' firebombed – but still fit to fiddle with our minds

Alister Silver badge

Separated by a common language...

An unidentified man broke the glass on the first floor of a building

In the UK, that would no doubt be the ground floor of the building, not the first floor.

Self-driving cars may not have steering wheels in future, dev preview for PyTorch 1.0 is here, etc

Alister Silver badge

Re: What about towing trailers?

Are they really expecting the driver to get out and use a box on a cable like many cranes have? Or maybe to yell instructions at the tow vehicle?

No, they expect you not to tow trailers or caravans, be a pedestrian, or a horse rider or a cyclist. For truly autonomous cars to work, they must be the only item allowed on the roads, and will only take you from clearly defined point "A" to clearly defined point "B".

It appears that with all these "innovations" what is considered normal behaviour now will be curtailed to meet the limitations of the new technology.

To me, this seems the wrong way to go about things, the new technology should be designed to work within the constraints of current behaviour, but that's not how it seems to be at the moment.

Convenient switch hides an inconvenient truth

Alister Silver badge

Re: a bit thin?

Also known as Love-in-a-Canoe tea...

As in: fucking close to water.

On the third day of Windows Microsoft gave to me: A file-munching run of DELTREE

Alister Silver badge

On the third day of Windows Microsoft gave to me:


Stop it with the Christmas theme, OK?

It's barely October.

No Christmas themed headlines until December, FFS!

30 years ago, NASA put Challenger behind it and sent a Space Shuttle back out into the black

Alister Silver badge

Re: Space Shuttle - Pop Culture Favorite

There's something very inspirational about a spacecraft that flies into space and lands back on the ground.

That's why, whatever your thoughts on Mr Musk, the SpaceX booster landings tick all the boxes - it's how spacecraft should be, as we've seen for over half a century of Sci-Fi movies.

Where can I hide this mic? I know, shove it down my urethra

Alister Silver badge

@Nick Kew

No, they weren't. The first available flash drives came in 64MB, 128MB, 256MB and 512MB sizes - and those are still available today.

Brit mobe operator O2 asks cut-off customers: Have you tried turning it on and off again?

Alister Silver badge

Oh, so it's your fault!

UK.gov asks biz for ideas on how to 'overcome' data privacy concerns in NHS

Alister Silver badge

"overcome privacy challenges"

UK firms are being asked to pitch digital solutions to overcome privacy challenges

I think they mean: bypass the annoying privacy restraints

Alister Silver badge

Re: Best thing they can do...

Give the £9m to the NHS and let them sort it out.

Can't do that, they might spend the money on something silly and inconsequential, like a few more nurses, or an extra ambulance, or something.

UK ruling party's conference app editable by world+dog, blabs members' digits

Alister Silver badge

Re: "Everything blamed on the firm they bought the app from."

And rightly so!

I'm no supporter of the Conservatives, but I'm pretty sure they didn't go to the developer:

"Oh, and please make sure our app includes loads of bugs, and is more full of security holes than Adobe Flash"

It's fun to blame the party, but it's the company who sold them the app whose fault it is.

Bombing raids during WWII sent out shockwaves powerful enough to alter the Earth's ionosphere

Alister Silver badge

Re: Ten Ton Tess

Yep, he was an evil looking man, apparently.

That scary old system with 'do not touch' on it? Your boss very much wants you to touch it. Now what do you do?

Alister Silver badge

Re: Insurers, banks, board of trade, government...

Would that be metric or imperial F'tons ?

Well imperial, obviously, a metric one would be a F'tonne...

I want to buy a coffee with an app – how hard can it be?

Alister Silver badge
Thumb Up

After passing my handset over the contactless pad, I made sure to flourish it over the empty paper cup that she'd labelled "Tips - thank you!"


US State Department confirms: Unclassified staff email boxes hacked

Alister Silver badge

data breeches

Awesome! Trousers with storage in them, what a great idea!

Oh Smeg! Hacked white goods maker resurfaces after system shutdown

Alister Silver badge

Schurely Schome Mischtake?

A basement of broken kit, zero budget – now get the team running

Alister Silver badge

there's a lot of difference between Massachusetts and Mississippi

Yeah, there's no "i"s or "p"s in Massachusetts.

How an augmented reality tourist guide tried to break my balls

Alister Silver badge

but decided not to raise the topic of his bollocks with staff in a foreign language.


Very Wise.

Excusez moi monsieur, mais mes couilles ont été endommagées par votre tablette AR.

Quelle domage!

Berkeley bio-boffins' butt-blasting belly-bothering batt-teria generates electricity

Alister Silver badge

It shouldn't be a surprise, really

Given that all higher forms of life uses electrical signals to control muscles, communicate pain, and do the whole "thinking" thing, it shouldn't really come as a surprise that bacteria have the ability to swap electrons.

The evolution of life from single-celled beings to multi-cellular organisms must have started from such basic building blocks, and the ability to pass electrical signals between cells is essential for that process, whether you are a bacteria or a eukaryote.

New MeX-Files: The curious case of an evacuated US solar lab, the FBI – and bananas conspiracy theories

Alister Silver badge

Alright, Beatrice, there was no alien.

The flash of light you saw in the sky was not a UFO.

Swamp gas from a weather balloon was trapped in a thermal pocket, and refracted the light from Venus.

Martian weather has cleared at last: Now NASA's wondering, will Opportunity knock?

Alister Silver badge

Re: Not allowed to

"Fire twinklers and light balls!"

I'm not lighting my balls for anybody!

GDPR v2 – Gradually Diminishing Psychotic Robots: Brussels kills Terminator apocalypse

Alister Silver badge

Re: Weaponizing AI will happen, denying this is suicidal

For much of human history, there was not even the concept of a 'civilian'.

And yet, for a certain period, it was only professional soldiers who fought.

I remember reading an account somewhere of one of the classical Greek wars of Alexander's time, where the combating soldiers were fighting, in a city, dodging round the incumbent citizens who were trying to carry on with their normal lives.

Even in First World War France, if you came back thirty miles or so from the trenches, civilian life pretty much carried on as normal.

Alister Silver badge

killer robots are not something that no one ever wants to see

Ooh! double negative!

Milton Keynes: Come for roundabouts, stay for near-gigabit broadband

Alister Silver badge

Never mind the roundabouts...

What about the concrete cows!

Chromebooks gain faff-free access to Windows file shares via Samba

Alister Silver badge

I trust it's SMB 1.0 that it supports, just to leverage all the available exploits onto a new platform?

It's a mug's game: Watch AI robot grab a cuppa it hasn't seen before

Alister Silver badge

Re: Couple of questions

My other question is, are tongues the usual way of picking up shoes?

I think you would only pick up a shoe by its tongue if it is as a preparation to putting it on your foot, (you would normally pull the tongue towards the front of the shoe to open up the aperture to put your foot in).

You know what, thinking about it the above is wrong, and that yes you would normally pick up a single shoe by putting one or more fingers under the tongue.

For a pair of shoes, side-by-side, I would tend to put my fingers in one shoe, and my thumb in the other, and pinch the sides together to lift both.

Alister Silver badge

And they dare to call this “AI”.

But this is AI, the actual level of competence of real AI, and not just data-mining, which is what the marketing types have hijacked the term to mean.

This is a computer learning from a mixture of teaching and its own experience, and is what real AI should be.

British Airways hack: Infosec experts finger third-party scripts on payment pages

Alister Silver badge

Re: third party scripts, including from external domains that the company itself owns

If the company owns the domain then it isn't a third-party script.


Modernizr is a third-party script library, as are JQuery et al. They are produced and distributed by a third party. Just because you host a local copy on your own domain doesn't make them not third-party.

Alister Silver badge

Re: @John Leyden / ElReg: Can you please get the headline changed?


it is clear that there were no "third-party scripts" involved

Modernizr is a third-party script library, as are JQuery et al. They were not written specifically for the BA site, or by BA's dev team, they were written by a third party...

No, they weren't hosted externally, but that's a different matter.

So the headline is technically correct.

Alister Silver badge

Let's just be clear

The scripts WERE NOT hosted on an external resource, they were served from inside BAs infrastructure. The path they came from was:


However, they WERE third party scripts in that they were not written specifically for the BA site, but were local copies of script libraries freely available to web developers from various vendors.

In this case, they were modified versions of the freely available scripts, with malicious extra code added to siphon off users details to an external domain.

Post-silly season blues leave me bereft of autonomous robot limbs

Alister Silver badge

Ok... how do I load it with washing over the internet

Depends on what fabric you're using... apparently Brocade is quite fast.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019