* Posts by Kubla Cant

2007 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

Why do GUIs jump around like a demented terrier while starting up? Am I on my own?

Kubla Cant
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Re: Read more

Progress bars that are just an illusion are my pet hate.

You'll love this then. I worked on an application that did lots of long-running database operations. The thing about those is that there's no real way to monitor progress, so I had to resort to Zeno's progress bar. In the first minute* it gradually increases to 50% done. In the second it goes to 75%. And so on, never actually reaching 100% until the result comes back from the database.

* The actual time for each increment is based on an estimate of the likely total time. It's also a bit more convincing if the initial increment and the progression aren't 50%.

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Squirrel sinks teeth into SAN cabling, drives Netadmin nuts

Kubla Cant
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Re: Best traps

The edible doormouse is the European vermin from hell

It's actually illegal to trap your own glis glis (edible dormice) as they're protected. Doesn't make them less of a pest.

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Welcome to my world of The Unexplained – yes, you're welcome to it

Kubla Cant
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I once read a book called The Naked Island by Russell Braddon. The latter part was a harrowing first-person description of the torture, deprivation, disease and death suffered by Allied servicemen interned in Changi prison by the glorious forces of Nippon during the war.

Perhaps "a visually arresting Japanese drama" is their way of saying sorry.

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Windows 10: What is it good for? Microsoft pitches to devs ahead of Creators Update

Kubla Cant
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Mushroom

Windows 10: What is it good for?

Pulling pictures off a Windows phone? Apparently not.

Yesterday a friend who uses a Lumia phone asked me to back up her photos to her PC, running Windows 10. Windows talks to Windows via USB - should be a no-brainer. After all, I've often copied stuff from Android to Windows and Android to Linux with no problem.

But Windows 10 refuses to acknowledge that the phone is connected. The phone sits there making a bleeping noise every five seconds, so it knows there's some kind of connection.

When I research the problem on the internet, it seems it's not uncommon. The forums are full of "try this" posts, but no definite solution. Microsoft don't seem too interested - Windows can't connect to Windows, so what?

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Free smart fridges! App stores in fountains! Plus more from Canonical man

Kubla Cant
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Re: I dunno...

@Neil Barnes: In general, I agree with you. But:

- Fridge: requires a thermostat and a little switch to turn the light on. Many fridges now have a frost-free feature that presumably relies on some kind of timer. I don't suppose anyone is perverse enough to be nostalgic about freezer defrosting.

- Heating: requires a thermostat to turn the heating on and off. And a timer.

- Lifts: requires a little control logic and a set of buttons to select a target floor. True only for small buildings. Moving large numbers of people around tall buildings requires logic that controls all the lifts, and sometimes the slightly annoying feature where you select a floor when you arrive in the lobby, so the system can optimise each lift's stops.

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Could a robot vacuum cleaner monitor your data centre?

Kubla Cant
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It never quite produces the crisp appearance that comes from a really good human-powered Hoover session, but will save you a daily sweep.

Do I understand from this that you, or somebody in your house, vacuums the floor daily? I'm impressed.

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Poor software design led to second £1m Army spy drone crash

Kubla Cant
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Re: When R/C hobby models now come with autoland, these folks are simply pathetic.

You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away, provided that the ground is fairly soft. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes. -- JBS Haldane

How about a whale? (With or without a bowl of petunias)..

The whale would get stuck. For it is written: "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a whale to fit down a mine shaft."

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If only our British 4G were as good as, um, Albania's... UK.gov's telco tech report

Kubla Cant
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(I haven't heard that one for a while - there can't really be any factories still using pre-war machinery).

Want to bet? I know of at least one place where they are still using a punch press that has the manufacturers metal label on the front, stating it was produced in 1931.

Actually, while writing the above, I kept thinking of Whitechapel Bell Foundry, established in 1570 and manufacturing on the same site since 1738 (and now, sadly, facing an uncertain future). They must have some pretty old machinery.

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Kubla Cant
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The problem with the UK is that because we were early users of 2G, the majority of cell sites were put in place to suit GSM coverage

This is the invariable excuse. We have a crappy, badly-planned rail network because ours was the first. I imagine the same excuse is applied to the road network. It used to be claimed that German factories were much more efficient than British ones because theirs were all destroyed during the war, so they started again with new machinery (I haven't heard that one for a while - there can't really be any factories still using pre-war machinery).

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Rogue One: This is the Star Wars back story you've been looking for

Kubla Cant
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Re: Tape?

"Then, to our dismay, we were confronted by another crisis. Nearly five thousand highly skilled men had been selected to serve the Analyzers and had been given an intensive course at the Technical Training Schools. At the end of seven months, 10 percent of them had had nervous breakdowns and only 40 per cent had qualified the course, 90 percent of them left to become freelance contractors."

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Kubla Cant
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Tape?

the colossal tape library on which the Death Star plans reside

I know it's a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but tape hasn't been seen in SF films for 40 years. Do they have the old banks of big IBM tape drives twitching their reels?

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WINNER! Crush your loved ones at Connect Four this Christmas

Kubla Cant
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What's the formula for gaining an advantage when playing Diplomacy then?

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'Emoji translator' sought by translations firm

Kubla Cant
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No discussion of tube stations is complete without this:

[emoji of sunrise][emoji of huge weight][emoji of new moon]

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Kubla Cant
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Saving space

The name "Seven Sisters" uses 13 bytes. As far as I know, emojis are implemented as Unicode multi-byte characters, so the rebus of seven pictures of a woman probably consumes between 14 and 28 bytes.

What's more, it doesn't specify that they're sisters. They're all identical, so it should be the little-known station Monozygotic Female Septuplets.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Competitive Salary

Any job advertisement that relies on expressions like "competitive salary" or "market rate" instead of specifying an actual figure is effectively admitting that they hope to get away with under-paying.

That's my experience, anyway. When you ask "How much is your competitive salary?", the answer is always a disappointment.

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ESA to try tank-to-tank fuel switch on sat that wasn't designed to do it

Kubla Cant
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Re: Er, there's a better way...

Not, I suspect "better" in the sense of cheaper, easier, simpler or quicker.

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HBO slaps takedown demand on 13-year-old girl's painting because it used 'Winter is coming'

Kubla Cant
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Re: overhaul?

If you make a chocolate bar that looks too much like a Cadbury's one, you'll be in trouble.

I think this shows where the problem lies. The Cadbury's trademark applies to a fairly narrow set of products, whereas the HBO one covers "clothing, mugs, drinking glasses, hats, bags, mouse pads and similar tat" *. The HBO trademark applies to a commonly-used sentence on a wide group of products that often carry messages.

If I sell a chocolate bar in purple foil, then it's reasonable to claim that it's counterfeit Cadbury's. If I sell a hat with "Winter is coming" on it, but no knights in armour and women with their tits out **, then it's absurd to suggest I'm passing it off as an HBO hat.

* I suppose it's too much to hope that the registration actually uses the phrase "similar tat".

** I'm afraid my knowledge of Game of Thrones is entirely second-hand.

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Common sense required

What's next..."this is the winter of our discontent".?

I think you mean "Now is the winter of our discontent". Or have you changed the wording to avoid a take-down notice from the Royal Shakespeare Company?

I wonder who's bagged "Sumer is icumen in"?

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90 per cent of the UK's NHS is STILL relying on Windows XP

Kubla Cant
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Re: Maybe they should consider going over to Linux?

If the NHS had sat down, formed an OS development team, taken a base Linux distro, and gone on to build their own bespoke system on top of it they could by now be sitting on a highly developed, relatively very secure and stable OS that they would be in control of and that would offer a common platform for the whole NHS to work with.

Sounds good.

But back in the real world, they'd outsource the development to Monster IT Inc, extend the scope to refactoring the world, and end up with a bill of £100bn for a "free" operating system. By the time it was delivered (if it ever was), everyone would have installed XP.

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Information on smart meters? Yep. They're great. That works, right? – UK.gov

Kubla Cant
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Re: estimated net "benefit" of £5.7bn by 2020

like utilita witch...

What kind of witch is Utilita? A Wicked Witch or a Good Witch?

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Qualcomm, Microsoft plot ARM Snapdragon-powered Windows 10 PCs, tablets, phones

Kubla Cant
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Re: "How do you license something.............."

AFAIK Microsoft do not charge a license fee for devices with screens under seven inches.

Sounds like a good way to acquire cheap Windows server licenses, for those that want them. After all, it's a server, so a titchy screen should do.

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Can ISPs step up and solve the DDoS problem?

Kubla Cant
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Re: Actually curious...

I suppose an ISP's business model is selling connectivity to punters at a lower price than the next ISP. Service enhancements that don't directly improve the offer to consumers are just a cost. It seems to be a very competitive business, so there probably isn't much margin available for this kind of thing.

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Going underground: The Royal Mail's great London train squeeze

Kubla Cant
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If a brand new train, running a fixed route on a dead end line with no other trains, needs a driver in order to carry passengers, how on earth are driverless cars even a thing?

Costs and benefits. The Mail Rail tourist route can only derive a small benefit from driverless operation, so the cost of implementing it isn't justified.

Driverless trains are not uncommon. The DLR has been one since 1987. The Victoria Line, constructed in the 1960s, has drivers, but the trains are automatic.

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'Toyota dealer stole my wife's saucy snaps from phone, emailed them to a swingers website'

Kubla Cant
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Re: More I think about this..

How about this for a plausible explanation:

Salesman looks at picture of document, then swipes to see if there's another page. Instead of more loan document pages, he gets Mrs Gautreaux in the bath. He decides to tease the Pastor by handing the phone back with the nudie shot on show. Gautreaux doesn't see the joke. Either through vindictiveness or to deflect his wife's wrath, he sends the pictures to the swinger site and lays the blame on Thomas. Mrs Pastor is now even madder. Escalation via lawyer ensues. Million-dollar law suit results.

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BAE Systems' autonomous research aircraft flies itself to Scotland

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

BAE described this process as follows: "The testbed contains an aircraft identification antennae..."

Let's hope their avionics are better than their grammar: "an antennae" is "an aerials" in English.

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Local TV presenter shouted 'f*cking hell' to open news bulletin

Kubla Cant
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Re: Who cares?

@gazthejourno Best post of the day! I wish I could upvote it more.

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Guessing valid credit card numbers in six seconds? Priceless

Kubla Cant
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Re: Online => shipping...

In other words, they'll only ship to the card holder.

In my experience, this is rare and becoming rarer. Most deliveries are made during working hours, so buyers tend to have deliveries sent to their work address or to the home of a friend or relative who's in all day.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Simple answer?

Most of them don't do the processing perhaps? How often have you been redirect to Worldpay for example?

Exactly. In general, only large merchants do their own card processing. There are at least three ways in which a merchant can use a payment processor:

* overt redirection (which you will be aware of, because the payment page carries the processor's brand)

* redirection to a merchant-branded payment page hosted by the payment processor

* merchant-hosted page interacting with payment processor's web service.

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Sysadmin figures out dating agency worker lied in his profile

Kubla Cant
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Re: Enter == submit

web coders today don't think about things like that so they default the selected button to the [SUBMIT] button

Probably the result of oversight or ignorance. I'm fairly sure that both <input type="submit"> and <input type="button"> result in a default button. The more recent <button /> tag doesn't.

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Kubla Cant
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IIRC some typewriter keyboards used to have CAPS and SHIFT lock keys.

Mechanical typewriters normally had [Shift] and [Shift Lock]. The both did the same thing, but [Shift Lock] locked in the down position. It was called "shift" because it shifted the platen up and down so that the upper or lower character on the type head was printed. I've never seen a typewriter where the top row of keys shifted independently of the rest, and I imagine it would be hard to arrange.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Enter == submit

It really isn't "legacy guidelines of systems past". For an inexperienced user, the Carriage Return key is the natural one to use to move between fields (and if there isn't a submit button, that's usually what it does). It's the key you use to finish a line on a typewriter. The use of Tab to move to the next field is very unintuitive, as the typewriter tab key was almost exclusively used to indent text or type stuff in columns.

Most login forms consist of two text boxes, a submit button, and possibly a cancel button. By default, the submit button usually responds to the CR key wherever in the form it's pressed. So the CR in the username field would submit the form, then the CR in the password field would acknowledge the error message resulting from the blank password.

When you've created one or two login forms that keep catching people out, you add code to check if both fields have been filled before submitting the form. Clearly the login form in this story didn't have that.

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Plastic fiver: 28 years' work, saves acres of cotton... may have killed less than ONE cow*

Kubla Cant
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Re: Silly people

Veganism is about all animals, not just the cute ones.

Cockroaches? Mosquitoes? Krill? Protozoa? Obviously you wouldn't want to eat them, but what would be your response to banknotes lubricated with protozoa?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: And yet...

I wonder how many of them were wearing leather shoes as they clicked the "sign petition" button.

And I wonder if any of the virtue-signalers who were wearing plastic shoes had taken the trouble to find out if tallow was used in the manufacture of their footwear.

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Vegans furious as Bank of England admits ‘trace’ of animal fat in £5 notes

Kubla Cant
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Re: No big deal

Given that people eat bread coated with re-cycled piss (Urea)

Piss may contain urea, but I don't think it's an economical source. I believe urea was one of the first organic compounds to be synthesised. Perhaps they should have chosen a name that doesn't advertise the urinary connection.

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Kubla Cant
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I bet most of you vegans out there still wear leather shoes

No, the ones I know wear "crocs"

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the plastic in crocs comes from fossil hydrocarbons, so that's (long) dead animals. Same story with petrol.

And I can't help wondering about more obscure animal products. The only one that springs to mind is good-quality shirt buttons. Oh, and the wax on citrus fruit.

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Three certainties in life: Death, taxes and the speed of light – wait no, maybe not that last one

Kubla Cant
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Re: Yep

The distance from the North Pole to the Equator via Paris was originally defined as 10,000 km. Then it [the metre] was based on a standard pole, then on the wavelength of a particular type of light.

Those who are old enough to have learned Imperial units at school will be delighted to discover that the metre was at one time defined in terms of the rod, pole or perch.

The rod or perch or pole is a surveyors tool and unit of length equal to 5 1⁄2 yards, 16 1⁄2 feet, 1⁄320 of a statute mile or one-fourth of a surveyor's chain. The rod is useful as a unit of length because whole number multiples of it can equal one acre of square measure.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Creates more problems than it solves?

The metre was invented on 17 March 1791. Ole Roemer estimated the speed of light at 200,000 km/s in 1675 and James Bradley gave the number 301,000 km/s in 1728.

So the kilometre was used for measurements 84 years before the metre was invented? This relativity business truly is weird.

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Blu Vivo 6: Top value trendsetter marred by Chino-English mangle

Kubla Cant
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Re: Moto G4 plus

I bought a Moto G4 Plus 16GB from Amazon for £199 from Amazon in August. It looks like it's still available at that price. It's a decent phone, from a brand I've heard of, with a full English version of Android. When I plug in the charger at the end of the day it's usually showing more than 50% battery charge left.

In what way is the Blu Vivo better value at £229?

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How to confuse a Euro-cop: Survey reveals the crypto they love to hate

Kubla Cant
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Re: I wonder what would happen if...

What would happen if people stopped voting for the same old same old parties and stared thinking about what these people are doing with the power they are given and vote for someone else.

Hmm. Substitute "same old same old candidates" in that sentence and we know what happens: Trump.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Encryption will only work as intended until everybody is using it all the time

@Whitter Stenography is your friend.

Shorthand? Do you perhaps mean "steganography"?

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AWS to launch Aurora service for PostgreSQL at re:Invent – report

Kubla Cant
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considering how cheap a PostgreSQL database would be compared to MySQL via the larger vendors

What does this mean? PostgreSQL and MySQL are both open-source databases. Who are these "larger vendors", and why do they charge more for MySQL?

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Surprise, surprise. BT the only Universal Service Obligation provider in town

Kubla Cant
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Re: Calling our bluff, are you?

BT is a government agency

That's funny, I'm sure I recall something about a BT privatisation. Have they re-nationalised it on the quiet?

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Reg man 0: Japanese electronic toilet 1

Kubla Cant
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Re: Izal

Don't knock it. Izal made quite good tracing paper and could also be used for roll-ups.

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Emulating x86: Microsoft builds granny flat into Windows 10

Kubla Cant
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Thumb Down

Re: Baby... Bathwater?

Now ask yourself why no one writes a high-performance program in something like Java....All the performance gets lost in translation.

Now ask yourself why a quick Google for "Java algo trading" returns 173,000 results.

It's a shame you're posting anonymously. There are probably lots of financial institutions that would love to contact you and tap into your extensive knowledge of high-performance software.

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Helping autonomous vehicles and humans share the road

Kubla Cant
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Re: The trolley problem isn't real life

in 40 years of driving I've never had to choose between running over X or Y group of vulnerable people

Nor I, but maybe some drivers have had to make such a decision during that 40 years. If you're designing a self-driving car you have to equip it to do so, at which point you enter a murky world of evaluating human lives an injuries.

The processing power required for this kind of decision will make the self-driving problem look trivial. In the end the only defensible algorithm will have to be based on head count. This implies that you should sometimes destroy the car if there's only one passenger in it, which contrasts with the Mercedes position of "we decided to kill these people to protect our customer".

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Kubla Cant
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Stop

Moral accountability

There's an important difference in moral accountability between the "trolley problem" response of a human driver and those of a self-driving car.

Humans in this situation are usually making a decision very quickly, and probably under stress. This means that unless there is clear evidence to the contrary it will be accepted that their decision was not culpable.

The machine, on the other hand, is following a set of rules that have been designed into it by the manufacturer. If it decides to kill a member of my family because the protocol says it should avoid a pair of schoolchildren, then that is premeditated killing by whoever wrote the rules. They might be guilty of murder or manslaughter; at the very least they would incur massive civil liability.

It's hard to believe that anyone who's thought this through would want to manufacture a self-driving car.

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Three to appear in court over TalkTalk hack

Kubla Cant
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Re: Three to appear in court over TalkTalk hack

To make it even worse, another Reg story today has the headline "Three Mobile, two alleged hackers, one big customer database heist".

My brain hurts. Time for the pub.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Three to appear in court over TalkTalk hack

Me too!

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User needed 40-minute lesson in turning it off and turning it on again

Kubla Cant
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Re: Witless idiots

I've often been bemused by the way people can never remember what the error message said. What is it that turns intelligent people into witless idiots when using a computer? I think the problem is risk avoidance.

Using a computer involves continuous risk. You do something wrong and disaster ensues. This even applies to expert technical users; they're are better at managing the risk and they expect to be able to recover from disasters, but if you crank up the unfamiliarity they'll eventually be paralysed by risk aversion, too.

Remember the old systems that used to beep whenever you made any kind of mistake, however trivial? Anyone who worked with one of those will have been conditioned to avoid the beep at any cost. The error message, however friendly, is a similar mark of failure. Users just want to get it off screen and out of mind as soon as possible.

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Customer data security is our highest priori- ha ha ha whatever, suckers

Kubla Cant
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Re: Company law

making a profit is the highest priority

Reminds me of this old Dilbert strip.

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