* Posts by Alister

3335 posts • joined 19 May 2010

Uber jams Arizona robo-car project into reverse gear after deadly smash

Alister Silver badge

Re: Autonomous vehicle safety ignored

There *was* a human driver - they still ran straight into a pedestrian.

No, there wasn't. There was a human passenger with responsibility to monitor and override the vehicle.

You cannot equate that with a human who is fully engaged in driving the vehicle, the awareness and concentration required is completely different.

Alister Silver badge

Re: AV's Hindenburg?

Which is why in all those cases the human behind the wheel is still responsible for the safe operation of the vehicle. We absolutely know that the Uber driver wasn't doing their job, and I think it's pretty clear that the Tesla owners weren't doing what they should have been either (remembering that the Tesla isn't an autonomous vehicle).

But that's dodging the issue. Lets ignore Tesla for the moment, which are not autonomous, but in the Uber case the alleged autonomous vehicle wasn't capable of avoiding a simple collision without human intervention.

I wrote:

What's not acceptable is when the accidents are of such a nature that they would not have occurred if the vehicle was being driven by a normally competent human in the same circumstances."

Whether or not there was supposed to be a responsible human, that doesn't change the fact that the vehicle hit and killed a pedestrian, in circumstances in which a comparable human driven vehicle would not.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Autonomous vehicle safety ignored

I'm not convinced that humans can instinctively control a vehicle, and I'm pretty sure that many of them have no idea what they are doing, even after significant training and a small test.

If a human driver - even only a learner driver - was put in the same circumstances as the Uber crash, it would not have happened. A human driver would have seen the victim, and either slowed down or manoeuvred the vehicle to avoid a collision.

Even a learner driver on their first ever outing would not have blithely continued and run into the victim. This is what I mean about the built in instincts.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Autonomous vehicle safety ignored

I don't think the argument is flawed. Put someone entirely untrained in charge of a motor vehicle and you'll have a crash in minutes if not seconds.

Nowhere did I suggest that we were discussing untrained humans. The comparison should obviously be with human drivers who are supposedly competent.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Autonomous vehicle safety ignored

So learner drivers shouldn't be allowed on the road either then?

That's not a fair comparison either. Human learner drivers have built in instincts and abilities which are entirely absent from current autonomous vehicles.

Alister Silver badge

Re: AV's Hindenburg?

It is not really about the absolute level of safety that will determine the future of autonomous vehicles, but the public perception. And thanks to a news media that lingers on every accident they have, that perception is increasingly negative.

It's easy to blame the media, but both Tesla and Uber currently seem to have issues which make their vehicles unsafe by any standard.

It's important to note that Tesla is not meant to be an autonomous vehicle, but even taking that into account, there have been three or four incidents where the vehicle did not detect large solid obstructions in its path, and did not brake or take avoiding action.

And as for Uber, the vehicle failed to detect or react to a pedestrian pushing a bicycle who was in clear sight for hundreds of yards before the collision.

Whilst ever autonomous vehicles share the road with non-autonomous vehicles, there will be accidents, this is accepted. What's not acceptable is when the accidents are of such a nature that they would not have occurred if the vehicle was being driven by a normally competent human in the same circumstances.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Autonomous vehicle safety ignored

And this up against a bunch of halfwit meat sacks who kill on such a regular basis that it barely makes local news.

That's a flawed argument, though. If an autonomous vehicle can't at least match the safety standard of the meatsacks, then further work needs to be done before they are allowed on public roads.

Google listens to New Zealand just long enough to ignore it

Alister Silver badge

Re: fair and impartial hearing

But that's the point, isn't it. As a geographically small, and sparsely populated country, New Zealand has to work harder to try and ensure that an impartial jury is possible, so more draconian suppression is inevitable.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Another example...


So it seems that you don't think that any attempt should be made to ensure a fair and impartial hearing to anyone accused of a crime, or that efforts should be made to protect the identity of a rehabilitated offender?

It appears that you would prefer mob rule and "trial by media" instead.

Folks are shocked – shocked – that CIA-backed Amazon is selling face-recog tech to US snoops, cops

Alister Silver badge

Re: This explains a lot,...

... the infamous web site mugshots.com is hosted by Amazon

Well yes, as are millions of other websites, because Amazon provide cloud hosting, you know?

I've got a few sites hosted by Amazon, even some on the same subnets, would you like to suggest I'm involved as well?

Swiss sausage sizzler 4.0 hits 200 bangers per hour

Alister Silver badge

Re: “it could be used in the bedroom!”

That old favourite, "hunt the sausage".

Or just shouting SAUSAGE TIME!

Within Arm's reach: Chip brains that'll make your 'smart' TV a bit smarter

Alister Silver badge

Re: a camera. There is no escaping this

I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Dave.

Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a... fraid.

Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it I can sing it for you.

Alister Silver badge

Re: How will it be used?

@Doctor Syntax

That isn't going to play well with GDPR.

I don't think GDPR will have an impact, if they can claim "legitimate interest"

FBI's flawed phone tally blamed on programming error. 7,800 unbreakable mobes? Er, um...

Alister Silver badge

Re: Counting things that have unique IDs

Are the Baaa codes lamb-inated?

Brit water firms, power plants with crap cyber security will pay up to £17m, peers told

Alister Silver badge

If your mandatory requirement was flouted what would you do? Impose fines of course.

Well actually I was thinking more along the lines of removing the company's right to operate. That might make the shareholders sit up and take notice.

The problem at the moment is that the fines are imposed on the imprecise notion of "cyber-security" which is always open to interpretation. If there was a clearly defined mandatory requirement which stated that there should be NO Internet connectivity to any CNI and any breach would lead to an immediate loss of operating rights, then the issue is clear cut.

Alister Silver badge

Simple solution: don't.


Back in the days before the internet was a thing, companies used to use "private circuits" for remote management of utilities infrastructure. Essentially they were a routed, unswitched physical connection from one premises to another. Brand names for the services included Kilostream and Megastream.

Unfortunately, when Broadband became ubiquitous, most companies identified a cost saving by switching to Internet based connectivity, but didn't factor in the security implications.

Maybe, instead of waving around pointless fines, the government should make it a mandatory requirement of operating, set in law, that utilities and power companies must use private circuits for their infrastructure.

Hitler 'is dead' declares French prof who gazed at dictator's nashers

Alister Silver badge

Are you Mandy Rice-Davies?

Alister Silver badge

Re: Or they could have just looked at a calendar...

and not been fooled by his regular cameo roles on Discovery Channel

Never mind that, I saw him live discussing computer games here

Alister Silver badge

Re: Um… Why?

No need to pull out perfectly good ones.

Not as much fun though...

I'm a Dentist

Presto chango, crypto buyo: You're travelling like El Reg's gang of nerds

Alister Silver badge

Me too!

Just to jump on the bandwagon, I'd be very interested in buying this book, and quite happy to pay for it, but NOT if it requires using cryptocurrencies or Facebook. Sorry.

You've really misjudged your audience on this one.

Router admin? Bored? Let's play Battleships using BGP!

Alister Silver badge

Difficult to get even Doom graphics into 16 bits, sadly.

Primary Data says stop, Hammerspace, Innodisk cooks some SSDs, and Fujitsu goes blockchain

Alister Silver badge

Stop! Hammer time.

or Hammerspace, then.

The harbingers of Doomwatch: Quist is quite the quasi-Quatermass

Alister Silver badge

Re: 1977

My parents got a colour set in 1973. I remember it was 1973 because that was the year my parents got the colour TV set.

WARNING! circular reference detected!


Alister Silver badge

Yay! Stob!

Truly a good day, today.

Slurp up patient data for algos that will detect cancer early, says UK PM

Alister Silver badge

In a speech in Macclesfield

Ha, I bet she was scared to be there. I mean, who knows what wild and woolly tribesmen exist in the wilds of Cheshire, they still practice ritual sacrifice on Alderley Edge, don't they?

Greenwich uni fined £120k: Hole in computing school site leaked 20k people's data

Alister Silver badge

You can see why there are so many data breaches nowadays, if even those responsible for teaching future developers have no clue about security.

Is it any wonder that Dev-Ops (Ha) think it's absolutely fine to bung live data into a cloud container and then turn off the default security.

High-end router flinger DrayTek admits to zero day in bunch of Vigor kit

Alister Silver badge

We also got the advisory on Friday, did the firmware upgrade with no dramas on all our affected routers. My understanding is that the routers were only vulnerable to this exploit if you allowed the external management interface, which by default is disabled, or SSL VPN connections, which again are off by default.

Das blinkenlights are back thanks to RPi revival of the PDP-11

Alister Silver badge

an obsolete computer enthusiast

I say, that's a bit harsh...

Can't you just call him retired?

Flamin' Nora! Brit firefighters tackle blazing fly-tipped boat

Alister Silver badge

Re: ...and did he have both his legs?

The boy stood on the burning deck

His lips were all a quiver,

He gave a cough, his leg fell off

And floated down the river.

Alister Silver badge

Re: What we really need to know is...

did they rescue the boy from the burning deck?

...and did he have both his legs?

Alister Silver badge

Bully's speedboat

"Let's look at what you could've won!"


Want to know what an organisation is really like? Visit the restroom

Alister Silver badge

Re: loos at home are notable for their lack of written instructions.

Guns with short barrels loose accuracy over distance, please stand closer

I would hope that the makers of the sign were at least able to spell lose, particularly given the location.

Eye in the sea skies: Insitu flies Scaneagle 3 UAV in first public demo

Alister Silver badge


Maybe if we knock an F-35B off the order, we could get ten of these?

Blighty's super-duper F-35B fighter jets are due to arrive in a few weeks

Alister Silver badge

PA474 flew over Ladybower today instead, I don't know if there was anybody there to watch.

Trump’s new ZTE tweets trump old ZTE tweets

Alister Silver badge

The Washington Post and CNN have typically written false stories about our trade negotiations with China...

So factual reporting of his previous tweets is now fake news, is it?


America's forgotten space station and a mission tinged with urine, we salute you

Alister Silver badge

Re: Pedant's corner

The little wascal has spiwit.

Oh. Ahh, about eleven, sir.

Julian Assange said to have racked up $5m security bill for Ecuador

Alister Silver badge

Re: Heroes


Almost as if there had been a sustained campaign to discredit him by those his organisation exposed isn't it?

Frankly, there doesn't need to be any sort of organised campaign to discredit him, he's doing very well by himself.

I don't recall that he's paid back the poor shmucks who stood bail for him, for instance?

MPs petition for legally binding target of 95% 4G coverage across UK

Alister Silver badge

Given the goverment's expressed intention to migrate all the emergency services communications to public 4G networks, one would hope for at least 95% coverage, and preferably more. But they probably haven't thought that through...

Hacking train Wi-Fi may expose passenger data and control systems

Alister Silver badge

but depending on the architecture, it may be possible, like it is with the way they integrated stuff into cars.

No, it really isn't.

Aegon conquered by UK bank holiday IT upgrade: Some users can't log on

Alister Silver badge

Which reminds me, are TSB back on their feet yet? It's all gone very quiet.

Pinging admins: Here comes your packet of networking news

Alister Silver badge

Re: unsecured FTP is officially dead

Literally, you're basing your internal security on "nobody uses brass doorhandles any more, everyone uses these modern chrome things".

No Lee, we aren't. It's just used for backups, because it's quicker than any other protocol.

Alister Silver badge

unsecured FTP is officially dead

There's no way that vanilla FTP should be exposed to the T'internet anymore, but we use it quite extensively inside our network, as it forms an effective barrier against ransomware and cryptoware - particularly recent variants which traverse SMB connections - so for instance the only access to our backup storage is by FTP, we've turned off NFS and CIFS.

It is still the quickest method of file transfer with the least overhead of any protocol.

Facebook misses Brit MPs' deadline, promises answers on Monday

Alister Silver badge

it will have to finish the homework it's been set over the weekend.

Does Zuck have a dog?

If he does, let's hope it doesn't eat his homework...

Bombshell discovery: When it comes to passwords, the smarter students have it figured

Alister Silver badge

How about: smarter people may have a larger vocabulary or a greater imagination to come up with and then remember more complex passwords?

Consent, datasets and avoiding a visit from the information commissioner

Alister Silver badge

Re: Commercial relationship?

You still have the right to retain the details of the sale and the customer details for a set period .

Wrong, you have no rights to any customer details, just purchase time, date and amount.

If you destroyed all records of sale and customer details, how would you handle warranties, returns, recalls etc.

Erm, in exactly the same way as bricks-and-mortar shops do. Unless the purchaser gives you their details for a warranty claim, you have no records except of a sale for an amount on a day and time, no personal info at all.

Alister Silver badge

Re: Commercial relationship?

I presume (wrongly?) that keeping details of a sale/customer remains legal, provided the data is kept safe.

You presume correctly that you're wrong... :)

For a one-off purchase, there is no legal reason to keep details of the customer, and the old practice of requiring that someone set up an account before being able to buy something will no longer be tenable.

Does entering into a contract to develop a website for someone mean they have given you explicit agreement to remember who they are? And to send them invoices in the future for renewal?

If you have an ongoing contract to supply both a website and future updates, then keeping the customer details on file is fine, but you mustn't use that information for any other purpose.

You love Systemd – you just don't know it yet, wink Red Hat bods

Alister Silver badge

Re: suggestion for the pillock

PO should go fuck himself with a rusty spoon, what a bellend.

Linus, is that you?

Systemd-free Devuan Linux looses version 2.0 release candidate

Alister Silver badge

Re: Beowulf

Don't know why you got a downvote for that, I remember playing with a Beowulf cluster back in the day, RedHat 5.1 I think it was we used.

VMware to finally deliver full-function HTML5 vSphere client

Alister Silver badge

Re: Flash... ah!

or have they actually built a web interface that isn't crippled by a dumb desktop developer's idea that everything should be rammed into one tab, and to hell with standards, usability, accessibility, reliability and maintainability?

Umm... is this a rhetorical question?

Windows Notepad fixed after 33 years: Now it finally handles Unix, Mac OS line endings

Alister Silver badge

If you'd read my comment three pages back, you would see that the standard Windows edit box does indeed handle Unix-like line endings correctly, but Notepad is NOT a wrapper for that control, and was developed prior to the standard WinAPI controls.

Which makes it even more unbelievable that Microsoft haven't re-written Notepad to be a wrapper for the standard edit control before now.

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