* Posts by Primus Secundus Tertius

831 posts • joined 31 Oct 2010

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8 out of 10 cats fear statistics – AI doesn't have this problem

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Stats is hard

Many of the techniques used in statistics can be mastered with practice, even by a social sciences graduate if they are willing. But the proof of these things is often extremely difficult: for example, that a binomial distribution with large numbers tends asymptotically to a Gaussian distribution.

Stats therefore becomes a memory test, since it is difficult to re-prove a theorem that has slipped one's mind.

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Re: Oh the irony

But the numbers calculatated in this case for a chi-squared test probably are more or less chi-square distributed.

If one assumes a binomial distribution of the raw figures. they deviate by two standard deviations from a 50-50 result. The probability of a deviation that size or more is roughly five percent.

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In fairness to politicians at least in the Western world: they are generally representative of ordinary people. It is other people that people don't trust.

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Emissions cheating detection shines light on black box code

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As I understand it, the pollutants are oxides of nitrogen. These are produced when things are burned in air at high temperatures. This is a problem for diesel engines because of their high compression, hence high adiabatic temperature rise. This makes them thermodynamically more efficient than petrol or butane engines, so they use less fuel. So they produce less CO2, but more NO/NO2.

We have catalytic converters to turn CO to CO2; higher combustion temperatures yield more CO. But it seems there is nothing to remove the NO/NO2.

But you are right that CO2 is not a pollutant: it is plant food; and the regulations are designed by green freaks, not scientists and engineers.

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Horse named 'Cloud Computing' finds burst of speed to beat 'Classic Empire' in actual race

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Cheap food sells

Sometime in the 1970s thare was the Great Cereals Strike. Everyday ones like Corn Flakes rapidly sold out, but the fancy expensive cereals were still there after a fortnight.

It was also the time of the Great Bog Paper Strike.

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Make it up

Maybe el Reg can't make it up, but America's Finest News Source, aka The Onion, most certainly can.

See http://www.theonion.com/infographic/greatest-thoroughbred-horses-all-time-55937.

E.g. the horse that revolutionised racing by using four legs rather than two.

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Wannacry: Everything you still need to know because there were so many unanswered Qs

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Re: SMB shares

Why? I guess they use TCP/IP protocols. MSFT have made obsolete the old Netbui protocol.

Windows NT in its day used to mention that Netbui could be used for machines you did not want to be visible on the Internet.

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Have a go with this WW2 German Lorenz cipher machine – in your browser

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Re: Enigma, the cipher famously cracked by Tutte's colleague Alan Turing

@Tom 7

It was Colossus that emulated the Lorenz machine; the Bombe emulated the Enigma machine. If I have correctly understood the tour guides at Bletchley and TNMOC, the aim of both machines was to find the rotor settings, i.e. the crypto key.

This was done by testing "cribs": guesses at typical message headings, date and time, etc. Colossus/Bombe used two paper tapes, one with the encrypted message and the other with the crib. C/B tested many, many key settings and displacements of the crib from the start of the message.

The original Enigma message was then transcribed on a Typex machine, a British "Enigma" modified to mimic the original Enigma. As pointed out above, there were numerous variations of the Enigma.

Equally, there was a pseudo-Lorenz machhine. The Lorenz machine was a weighty beast, fit only for a headquarters role. The Enigma was portable.

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Re: Enigma, the cipher famously cracked by Tutte's colleague Alan Turing

But Turing wanted Colossus built to crack the Lorenz machine traffic on a large scale in a timely way.

The Enigma traffic was handled by one or more of The Bombe, an electromechanical beast.

Both machines used continuous loops of paper tape in the absence of computer memories.

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Crooks can nick Brits' identities just by picking up the phone and lying

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Re: 'Security' questions?

Banks use the phrase, "Know your customer". Not for real, of course; merely to fob off stroppy articles in el Reg.

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UK General Election 2017: How EU law will hit British politicians' Facebook fight

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Politicians do listen

In my experience as a political activist in the UK, the political parties are the only organisations that take the Telephone Preference List seriously. That is the list of people who do not want unsolicited telesales calls.

The parties know that an unwanted telephone canvassing call will lose them that vote.

Politics is not a glamorous business and it has many critics who would not "dirty" their own hands. You look at some UK politicians and think, yes, they do reflect the less appealing elements in our voter database.

But the alternatives are a lot worse. Dealing with people, and all the faults that people have, is not an easy task. It could be argued that President Trump is an example of what happens when a businessman rather than a politican is elected.

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Agile consultant behind UK's disastrous Common Platform Programme steps down

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Re: Same old con game

Almost any kind of management can work if the programmers can actually design and write software, and are allowed or encouraged to do that.

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Re: Agile doesn't work

I spent my career wondering how to turn science and engineering graduates (whom one would expect to think logically) into competent programmers. That is, produce programs which handle correct cases correctly, and error cases with error handling that does not crash. Programs which were tested to see whether they fail, not whether they barely scrape through a cursory test or merely compile.

Those skills cannot be imparted by management.

I never did find the answer.

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Fortran greybeards: Get your walking frames and shuffle over to NASA

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Look at the maths

I was once asked to look at an aircraft simulator that was supposed to run 20 iterations per second, but the first version took 2 seconds per go. By rearranging the maths I got it going at 10 times per second. No need to resort to assembler.

So this kind of work needs numerical analysis skills as well as programming skills.

I am not eligible for this NASA job: (i) I'm a Brit (ii) I'm retired, and would have to be very tempted.

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Just delete the internet – pr0n-blocking legislation receives Royal Assent

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Re: Democracy for the majority

@spacadet66

What kind of democracy is that? Why should techies, rather than (say) religious nutters, be allowed to impose their values and standards?

Nobody should be allowed to impose. Even a democratic majority must accept some limits, but minorities should accept their minority position.

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Democracy for the majority

In this democratic people's monarchy of the UK, the non-techies vastly outnumber the techies.

The non-techies have been demanding for a long time that internet pawn be stopped, and the techies should stop whingeing and stop the pawn. The techies respond that it is like asking Newton's Laws to be repealed, but that is democracy for you.

In real politics, of course, there would be a sensible compromise. E.g. if you really want to watch pawn, smoke cigarettes, or drive a car you pay extra tax and extra extra tax if you pay anonymously.

Everything has its price.

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Regulate This! Time to subject algorithms to our laws

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Regulation versus Appeal

One cannot hope to regulate every detailed thing. The answer must be a right of appeal to legal precedent or common sense, with the latter occasionally allowed to prevail.

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Re: But more importantly...

MPs could be replaced at any time by men with guns.

Most of the time in most parts of the world the MPs are less worse than the men with guns.

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Alert: Using a web ad blocker may identify you – to advertisers

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Clearly unique (?) part 2

Since it recognised my normal setup with all its fonts, I tried two small Linux systems that were a standard CD image, no further installations or changes.

1. System Rescue Disk v4.1 + Midori browser. Could not connect to site, SSH handshake failure.

2. Tiny Core Linux + Firefox v52. I am in 26 out of 10,000+ users.

So to be anonymous, use a small Linux system.

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Clearly unique (?)

I do clear all history, usually between visiting different websites; and I bar third-pary cookies. I declined to turn them on for this test. But I was unique among 6000+.

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'Tech troll' sues EFF to silence 'Stupid Patent of the Month' blog. Now the EFF sues back

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Opinions versus facts

A lawyer in England, where libel laws are strict and therefore disliked by idle journalists, could argue that calling a patent stupid is an opinion rather than a claim of fact. As a mere opinion, it is not defamatory.

Defamation might be, for example, to claim the patent was based on plagiarism or obtained by bribery.

I am surprised the Australian judge did not take such a view.

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Leaked NSA point-and-pwn hack tools menace Win2k to Windows 8

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Re: Damn it NSA,

@Nolveys

Mr Snowden is not due to inherit an English lordship. Therefore he is not entitled to be addressed as "The honourable..."

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Law Commission pulls back on official secrets laws plans after Reg exposes flawed report

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@tiggity

Indeed they were. The hatchet job on Dear Old Boris must rate as one of the most vicious in history.

There was then a series of votes, eliminating the candidate with fewest votes until there were two. Even I find it hard to remember the unsuccessful names; but some will have been staking out a claim to a place in a future contest.

May versus Leadsom as the finalists; then Leadsom withdrew.

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@Loyal Commenter

The parliamentary conservative party voted: just over 300 MPs, who are themselves elected by the voting public. Mrs May led the votes; then the number two candidate (Andrea Leadsom) dropped out.

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Astro-boffinry breakthrough: Loads of ingredients for life found on Saturn's Enceladus

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Remember Miller

So the Enceladus probe has discovered the ingredients that went into the famous Miller experiment of 1953: hydrogen, and hydrides of carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen.

The outputs of the Miller experiment were relatively simple organic compounds, but a long way from the highly organised large molecules of protein and DNA.

The news from Enceladus is an encouraging start, but nothing to get excited about. When the metal-digesting microbes there start chewing up Cassini's equipment, that will be news, if the reports get back to us.

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An echo chamber full of fake news? Blame Google and Facebook, says Murdoch chief

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Re: News of the World

How can anyone say the News of the World was fake news? It was based on the best telephone tapping that money could buy.

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It's 30 years ago: IBM's final battle with reality

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Re: IBM what could have been

"...Microsoft wrote a stub to detect whether OS/2 was installed..."

Windows 95 was distributed to end users as an "update CD". It would not run unless it detected an installed Windows 3.x or was presnted with the first W3 floppy disk. It would also accept the first OS/2 Warp 3 floppy disk.

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There are other variations of that quote about five computers: e.g. the UK would only need that kind of number.

For the publicly known computations of that time - gunnery trajectories etc., that number is perhaps right. But I believe over a dozen instances of Colossus were built for code cracking. So even then the estimate of five was way out.

However the real expansion of computing came with data processing, where record keeping outweighed the relatively small amount of computation. IBM should have known that, given their existing business in accounting machines fed with punched cards.

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No Stop button in window

The big defect in OS/2 that I met was the lack of a stop button in any window. Yes, you could close the window but that did not stop the task, just left it sitting in the background.

It was Windows 95 that brought us a proper stop button.

We had an OS/2 system returned to us as not working. The user had been closing the window, and then later starting up another instance. The system was clogged with dormant tasks. Once I removed them, everything worked again; what we had to do then was to update our User Guide.

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Steppe thugs pacified by the love of stone age women

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Re: Dont Tell UKIP or Britain First

There were Stone Age peoples who were wiped out by the invading Celts. Nowadays the Celts complain that their language and culture is being wiped out by the English.

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WikiLeaks exposes CIA anti-forensics tool that makes Uncle Sam seem fluent in enemy tongues

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Obscure comments

In most of the computer programs I ever dealt with, the comments did not need further obfuscation.

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Financial fraud losses in the UK last year topped £20m a day – report

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Re: 768/20 = 38.4

@Borg.King

Well said, sir. The mistaken arithmetic in the article suggests that its author is a likely target for fraud.

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'Windows 10 destroyed our data!' Microsoft hauled into US court

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Re: About time

@Eddy

I have tried various releases of Reactos, up to 4.4. It is still beta software at best, and is unhappy on real hardware rather than a virtual machine.

After my last attempt on real hardware I had to wipe the bios with a specialised program to restore the normal ability to manage bios settings.

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Astroboffins stunned by biggest brown dwarf ever seen – just a hop and a skip away (750 ly)

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Re: "Gigayears"...?

We need a word that means a thousand million. The word milliard never caught on, so we have billion.

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Microsoft delivers secure China-only cut of Windows 10

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Re: Perhaps...

@Mage

Within reason (that typically British phrase) I can live with being spied on by the authorities. What I strongly object to is being spied on by the usual suspects: Google, Microsoft, Amazon, ...

I get the impression that American preferences are the other way: they allow almost anything from corporates but not from government.

So much for the Internet uniting the world. It actually shows how divided we are.

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FBI boss: 'Memories are not absolutely private in America'

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Re: Trust your government?

As a Brit, I like our way of doing things.

THEY make the laws but WE decide whether to obey those laws.

Germans have a very different attitude. Germans have said to me, the law is the law and should be obeyed. Somehow the USA has taken up that German position rather than the English one. Revolutionary animus, perhaps.

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Re: A real policeman once said

@man who fell...

Such a witness can then be branded as unreliable by lawyers for the other side, thus weakening somebody's case. Actions or inactions have consequences.

We live in organised societies that are more then just a bunch of selfish individuals. So individuals do not have absolute freedom. In common law states - Britain and USA - there is a common law duty to assist in mantaining law and order.

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Watt the f... Dim smart meters caught simply making up readings

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campaigners pdeudoscience

Too much technical policy in Britain is decided by campaigners with limited scientific knowledge but who have the ear of our arts graduate civil servants.

Not only is the campaigners' knowledge limited but their scientific judgement is zero. They should be called technicians, not scientists.

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Forget quantum and AI security hype, just write bug-free code, dammit

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Re: 1980s computer science

@Mage

Well said!

I partly blame modern education, which tells children to be creative rather than to check their work.

Also, nobody wants to pay for quality, and they expect bug fixes as part of the service.

In my own programming career, I saw many poorly defined interfaces that did not logically separate various aspects of the requirements. It is difficult to get a poor interface working free from bugs.

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University DDoS'd by its own seafood-curious malware-infected vending machines

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My new car

My new car is an IoT on wheels. I am moderately confident, but no more than that, in its integrity as it emerged from the factory.

But there is a USB socket by the gear stick. One clueless service mechanic wanting music with their tea-break....

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All of Blighty's attack submarines are out of action – report

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Re: No EU Discount

@phuzz

If we write that about the progeny of immigrants we can be accused of racism. If we write that about Her Majesy we can be accused of treason.

In these modern times, which is worse?

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Re: Buy the German U-boats

@LDS

One unfortunate secretary at a place I worked was never allowed to forget her diesel-elastic submarine. A typo, of course.

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NASA's Curiosity puts cat among the climate pigeons: Lack of CO2 sinks water theory

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our own correspondent

Where is our own coorespondent, the man for mars?

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Police drones, robo surgeons and chatbot civil servants. What could go wrong?

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Re: "The UK should also take a look at using drones for policing, apparently."

Brexit & Trump sounds like a dodgy lawyers firm to me.

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Turing test

I recently went through the nauseous procedure of reporting a telephone fault to BT, and ended up on a chat line, purportedly to a person "somewhere".

But when you are on the line to someone with limited English working from a script, you wonder if in fact you are talking to a robot - the Turing test.

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GCHQ cyber-chief slams security outfits peddling 'medieval witchcraft'

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Re: Hackers are not the only threat.

@trickster

Sir or Madam,

You vastly overestimate the extent to which They are interested in Us. Believe me, I went to a privileged university with some of Them.

We/Us are merely statistics, 60 million of Us in the UK. Cheap computer hardware is not here to benefit Us but to benefit the Googleocracy that collects statistics about us on a huge scale.

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@Peter 26

"Why ..." may be a rhetorical question, but here is my suugested answer.

By and large, the private sector does not do deep, fundamental innovation. Minor incremental updates, yes, but real new thinking is rare. They employ doers and sellers, not thinkers.

So these things need to be hatched in the universities or other research establishments.

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@AC (1st)

Outside the technical readership of El Reg there are many people who say internet porn is wrong, it should be stopped, and the techies should stop whingeing and just stop the porn.

I once read that automatic telephone exchanges were invented by somebody annoyed beyond endurance after his calls to company A were connected to company B because B had bribed the operators. The telephone industry has matured, and the computer industry will have to do the same.

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David Hockney creates new Sun masthead. Now for The Reg...

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Re: The Sun?

There are people who can't distinguish those colours:

1. The lad I grew up with who in snooker could not distinguish the brown from the reds

2. The colleague on a computerised maps project who could not distinguish the brown and red roads.

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Re: Sun circulation

I object to the way the Telegraph now wants one to pay for access to much of the Internet version. If other publications can give free copies of printed papers, it must be even cheaper to offer Internet versions for free.

I particularly object to being expected to pay to see readers' letters, which come to them for free.

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