* Posts by Alister

3335 posts • joined 19 May 2010

Shift-work: Keyboards heaped in a field push North Yorks council's fly-tipping buttons

Alister Silver badge

Re: Craven District Council

@John Brown


Alister Silver badge

Craven District Council

Wouldn't it be funny if the keyboards turned out to be from the Council Offices...

The Chinese are here: Xiaomi to bring phones to the UK next month

Alister Silver badge

Re: If this was five years ago...

The best phone I have had. Smooth as butter in the mouth.

Why would you put your phone in your mouth?

Florida man won't be compelled to reveal iPhone passcode, yet

Alister Silver badge
Alister Silver badge

I don't think anyone can be forced to _reveal their password_.

Not in the US, maybe, but in the UK, you most certainly can.

British Airways: If you're feeling left out of our 380,000 passenger hack, then you may be one of another 185,000 victims

Alister Silver badge

“British Airways can confirm that it has had no verified cases of fraud.”

This fucking annoys me, there are hundreds if not thousands of people who have reported fraudulent transactions on their cards after having used them on the BA site during the relevant period.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Not third party code

This wasn't due to any third party code. The original breach involved somebody changing BA's own JS code to insert additional functions.

You are wrong. It was the Modernizr third-party script library that was infected. However, BA chose to host a local copy of it on their own domain.

Yer a solicitor, 'arry! Indian uni takes cues from 'Potterverse' to teach students law

Alister Silver badge

Re: Ralph gets an 'F'

Yeah, bloody Llamas! What have they ever done for us?

Alister Silver badge

Re: Not as crazy as it sounds...

Is the manufacturer of the wand liable, or the retailer in Diagon Alley?

I believe they are one and the same, Mr Ollivander makes his own stock.

Cathay Pacific hack: Personal data of up to 9.4 million airline passengers laid bare

Alister Silver badge

Re: Why is all this data being retained?

Because it takes work, and money, to delete data.

Leaving stale data is the cheap preferred option.

Excuse me, but have you heard the teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Chr-AI-st?

Alister Silver badge

This could be ultimately used, for example, to turn complicated information into an easy-to-understand explanation, automatically by a computer, of course.

This makes me think of Douglas Adams' "Reason" software created by WayForward Technologies, where you gave it a desired outcome and the software constructed a plausible line of arguments to lead to the required result.

Dunno why...

Worrying Windows 10 wrecking-ball weapon weirdly wanders wildly on worldwide web

Alister Silver badge

Re: Security

No, that's what they meant to code, however, nobody picked up the typo:

if (secLevel < previousWindowsSecLevel) printf ("Hey look, it's more secure!");

Alister Silver badge

Windows 10

The gift that keeps on giving...

jQuery? More like preyQuery: File upload tool can be exploited to hijack at-risk websites

Alister Silver badge

Re: Larry Cashdollar

Do you have a British relative called Sterling?

Memo to Microsoft: Windows 10 is broken, and the fixes can't wait

Alister Silver badge

Re: MS-DOS was terrific

Come on !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


WTF? MS-DOS never did BSOD, it was a Windows thing only.

Erm... what did you say again, dear reader?

Alister Silver badge

Re: Pfffft.

I wouldn't want anybody to loose they're temper over one off my posts. That would be rediculous...

<twitch> <twitch> <twitch> <twitch>


Alister Silver badge

Re: Pfffft.

So instead, I should annoy people by saying I could care less.

Nnnnnnnng... must resist... HmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmaaaaaaarGH...

No, I will be strong, I won't fall for the bait...

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

Alister Silver badge

Re: The evolution of euphemism


And no one had their finger in their ear, the universal gesture to warn listeners a folk song was about to be committed...

I thought the normal warning was the long drawn out "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas" in a whiny voice...

Or a similarly long chord played on either the fiddle or accordion - or is that warning of a Morrissment...


Alister Silver badge

Re: The evolution of euphemism

In Ireland, the use of "feck" seems to have become so commonplace that is no longer considered to be a corruption of fuck, and is considered quite a mild expletive and is often used freely in conversation.

I'll just leave this here for those who haven't seen it:


Alister Silver badge

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

AI clinician trained to save humans from sepsis – and, er, let's just say you should stick to your human doctor

Alister Silver badge

For each given disease, there are signs, symptoms, and other markers helping you to make the diagnoses.

Yes, this is true to a certain extent, but even then there can be marked differences between patients.

Although accepted knowledge is that a patient who has a heart attack will present with chest pain, be pale and sweaty, and have heart arrhythmias or visible changes on an ecg, there are many documented cases where this is not the case, and the patient may be unaware that they have had a heart attack at all.

In similar fashion, a patient suffering with sepsis may easily be misdiagnosed as having flu, or some other illness, if they do not present with the classic symptoms.

The classic signs and symptoms have to be a starting point, obviously, but it is dangerous to rely too heavily, or focus too narrowly on what is expected, both in diagnosis and treatment of illnesses.

With regard to accidents, then they are definitely random occurrences, and trying to predict future instances from past data is foolish.

Alister Silver badge

If the pathology lecturer has any real-life experience of medicine, he will acknowledge that it can be true.

You forgot to quote my next sentence:

Two patients with the same gross symptoms and history may have completely different outcomes.

This is a fact of medicine.

Alister Silver badge

The training data was fed into the neural network, so that it could spot patterns and make recommendations for new patients based on their records.

The problem with this approach is that human illnesses, accidents etc may not have consistent patterns, they can be completely random. Two patients with the same gross symptoms and history may have completely different outcomes. That's why strict protocol based medicine (the patient has this, so we will do that) has proven to be ineffectual compared to more traditional methods.

Whilst not quite the same, I have first-hand experience of this misguided attempt to predict future outcomes based on historical data. In the mid-nineties I was working as a paramedic with a UK ambulance service.

A local university research team came up with the idea that they could improve ambulance response times by predicting where emergency calls would occur, based on supposed patterns in historical data of previous years. The idea was that ambulances would be sent to loiter in the predicted area, so that they would be closer when a call came in.

Instead of trialling this with any simulation, the ambulance service decided to do it live, so they started using the software to position the ambulances around the county.

It soon became apparent that except for a few isolated occasions where it guessed correctly, the overall impact was that the ambulances were nearly always in the wrong place, and that response times were worsening, not improving.

The trial was abandoned early, despite the university's insistence that their idea would work if it was given more time.

If you take a step back you would realise that the idea that previous years' data of emergency calls would have any bearing on future occurrences is unlikely at best, but the university research group were convinced that it was a reasonable assumption.

In the same way, trying to predict how a patient will react to treatment, based on patterns of historical data of previous patients, is a flawed idea.

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.

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

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019