* Posts by Primus Secundus Tertius

919 posts • joined 31 Oct 2010

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Estonia cuffs suspect, claims he's a Russian 'hacker spy'

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: Round up the usual suspects

When the British Empire came to an end in Africa in the 1960s, most of the British settlers returned to Britain. A few, however, came to terms with the locals and stayed on as citizens of the new states.

There is an analogous problem with Russian people still living in Estonia and the other Baltic states. To which state are they loyal? They should follow the British example.

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Seldom used 'i' mangled by baffling autocorrect bug in Apple's iOS 11

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: Trademarking the "i"

Years ago, America's Finest News Source, aka The Onion, reported that Microsoft had patented the numerals 0 and 1.

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Boffins: Sun's red dwarf neighbour is looking a little thick around the middle

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@unwarranted t

The biggest disease is that which makes people blind to the value of pure science. Yes, let us cure that one!

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Distance units

"Earth-Sun distance"

Surely Reg readers know that 1 Astronomical Unit (AU) is the recognised term for Earth-Sun distance?

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Apache OpenOffice: We're OK with not being super cool... PS: Watch out for that Mac bug

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Cheap and cheerful

There is also Abiword, there for free.

You can prepare a Word document if you are not too fussed about themes and styles. Then the real weirdos can export it to Latex or Docbook. Its Docbook output is much more reliable that that of OO/LO.

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Oh, Google. You really are spoiling us: Docs block cockup chalks up yet another apology

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@Captain

I have always assumed that letting Google see anything is equivalent to handing it to US Intelligence.

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USB stick found in West London contained Heathrow security data

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@ "Somethings not quite right"

I would not plug it into my "main computer". But I have others, and can wipe them clean again.

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NHS could have 'fended off' WannaCry by taking 'simple steps' – report

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@Elmer

The money won't come from anywhere until the beancounters' own machines are hacked. Why should they listen to what they regard as unfounded claims designed to grab more of the budget?

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BOFH: Do I smell burning toes, I mean burning toast?

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Re: Good on ya, PFY

Cats are always plotting. If not to kill you, then to do something else.

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Panic of Panama Papers-style revelations follows Bermuda law firm hack

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Appleby advice

It looks as though Appleby need some advice from Sir Humphrey.

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Wanna exorcise Intel's secretive hidden CPU from your hardware? Meet Purism's laptops

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Re: We need companies like Purism

@Milton

"Social media, by grown-ups"

All computer freaks are nerds. Even me, a little bit.

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ARM chip OG Steve Furber: Turing missed the mark on human intelligence

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"the customer wants to add 3-d shadows to the text on the on screen menus"

I guess that's the time to hand it over to the B team.

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Re: So ...

@DropBear

I doubt that a neuron is 'just a simple logic gate'. Even a bacterial cell, without a nucleus, embodies feedback mechanisms without which it would not survive. Cells with a nucleus, including neurons, are much more complicated than bacteria.

I therefore believe that until we understand the whole evolutionary history of cells and brains we will not properly understand how the brain works. Current AI will, I expect, produce useful machines and some lessons, but not that full understanding.

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So the 'Year of Linux' never happened. When is it Chrome OS's turn?

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Re: No ...

@Lysenko

I use both MS Office and Libre Office -- the latter on numerous "other computers" that I own. I use MS Office only on my "main" machine.

The problems arise, as Lysenko notes, when documents have to be exchanged between different "Offices" on a regular basis. A one-off exercise in dealing with minor niggles is bearable, but not time and again, every day.

One other frustration is that OCR packages can pass their results directly into MS Word but not, as far as I know, into Libre Word.

I do wonder how they manage in Germany, where some government entities use Linux while most remain with Microsoft. Perhaps a Reg reader could let us know.

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Europol cops lean on phone networks, ISPs to dump CGNAT walls that 'hide' cyber-crooks

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v7 needed

We need an IP v7, bigger than 32-bit but compatible with v4.

It was a huge mistake by the people who imposed v6 to ignore compatibility issues, i.e. to ignore real users.

V4 was a work of genius. Everything since then has been B-team at best, student project at worst. How many people have heard of v5?

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Grant Shapps of coup shame fame stands by 'broadbad' research

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Re: My up is down :(

The Internet is to tell the plebs what is what, not to enable them to have a voice.

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Re: Coup shame fame?

@Naselus

1. Thank you for a useful run-down, so to speak, of the Tories.

2. "Nicky Morgan. Please"? I think/hope you mean "Nicky Morgan. Gulp!"

3. Johnson is the one with brain power. But look at British history: it took the pressure of a war that we had been losing to get Lloyd George and Winston Churchill as prime minister, because many people opposed them. If Johnson is a successful foreign minister the situation that would get him into no. 10 will not arise.

Politics is the art of the possible, except when it is impossible, which takes a little longer.

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Do you Word2Vec? Google's neural-network bookworm

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Vector spaces

These 'vectors' remind me of Hilbert space: infinite-dimensioned, with many imaginary components.

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Outlook, Office 2007 slowly taken behind the shed, shots heard

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@AC

My record for downvotes is about 40, on a totally different topic.

I, too, quite like the ribbon. Have an upvote.

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Footie ballsup: Petition kicks off to fix 'geometrically impossible' street signs

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Re: Metric please

@Flatpackhamster

The mile is an excellent base unit. In this modern world, it should be divided into 65536 new inches, as opposed to 63,360 old inches. Then a new foot is 16 new inches, and a new rod/pole/perch is 16 new feet. A furlong is one eighth of a mile (512 new feet), and a cricket pitch is one tenth of a furlong at 51.2 new feet.

What could be simpler?

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Fending off cyber attacks as important as combatting terrorism, says new GCHQ chief

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Legal doctrines

In England there used to be a legal doctrine, in Latin, to the effect that the law does not deal with trifles. So if you fiddled the raffle at the tennis club, MI5 are not interested in that particular misdeed, although it would tell them something about you. Nor can they conceivably be directly interested in the average nutjob opinions that infest the wibbly wobbly web. That is why they never get further than the surveillance computer systems. But in this wicked world, the authorities have to keep watch, even if the moaners keep moaning.

Unfortunately the litigious attitudes of the USA have spread to England (the case of Scotland must be discussed separately) and so many legal cases today would have been regarded as trifling in times past.

Bring back the concept of trifle, it is so good for all of us. And let the USA take note.

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White House plan to nuke social security numbers is backed by Equifax's ex-top boss

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Obscure number

WTF is 8008135? It is meaningless to the average Brit.

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Linux kernel long term support extended from two to six years

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Get it right

It is a pity that programmers can't just get it right. You would think that with all the fancy tools they now have, which us oldies did not, it would be easier to get it right. Back in the days of VMS or George 3 we did not need updates every month.

Heaven help us when our cars will have to get monthly software updates. Perhaps that is a cunning plan by the public transport freaks to push us out of our cars.

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Life began after meteorites splashed into warm ponds of water, say astronomers

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Well said, Dr Syntax.

For over 60 years, since the famous experiment by Miller, people have been trying to "put it together".

Frankly, they have got nowhere. In the book "Genetic Takeover" (Cairns-Smith, 1982) he, as an experienced chemist, points out that an uncontrolled reaction between organic chemicals just yields a filthy tarry mess. None of the experimental work has shown how precisely constructed long molecular chains can be assembled, or how to produce the pure stereochemical L or D isomers needed as a starting point.

Cairns-Smith proposed that things began with clay, which would answer the L/D question and others, and then organic molecules became associated and eventually took over. This suggestion is not accepted these days - I assume there are good reasons but I am not familiar with them.

There are other suggestions that life began as sea water, with organic contaminants, penetrated cracks in the earth's crust and interacted with hot silicate minerals.

Yes, there are experiments that should be done; but I suggest they need to be looking for the kind of two-stage origins of life mentioned above.

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Chairman Zuck ends would-be president Zuck's political career

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Re: Hmmmm.

The 1789 constitutional convention was the scene of many very experienced politicians. Sometimes I, as a Brit, suspect they gave the US a democratic constitution because they distrusted the voters less than they distrusted each other.

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WTF - President Zuck?

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Driverless cars will make more traffic, say transport boffins

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Challenge to democracy

“the real challenge is getting society to become more sharing either by allowing others to use their cars or through a third party mobility plan”.

No! The real challenge is to get those busybodies to respect democracy when it comes from ordinary more or less selfish people.

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Black screen of death after Win10 update? Microsoft blames HP

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Re: The registry that should never have happened

My understanding is that it is an offspring of the Common Data Dictionary used by certain programs under VMS on DEC VAX computers, and came to Microsoft when they hired Mr VMS to develop Windows NT.

The CDD was an enormous file, frequently changed by almost anything and then clogging up the next backup operation.

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NSA ramps up PR campaign to keep its mass spying powers

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Denounce them all

Strong stuff, this denunciation of the NSA.

Let's hear the same for the activities of the Russian FSB, the Chinese agencies, the Iranians, ...

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Forget trigonometry, 'cos Babylonians did it better 3,700 years ago – by counting in base 60!

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Re: Special cases

Well said, Wiggers.

The original academic article makes clear that the tablet was effectively equivalent to the ready reckoners and log tables familiar to the oldies among readers of El Reg.

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Re: So much for digital

Binary arithmetic is a myth.

The commercial world, which calls itself the real world, runs on binary coded decimal. That means it can handle billions of (dollars/pounds/euros/yen) to the nearest (cent/penny/hundredth).

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Virgin Media customers complain of outages across UK

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Re: Maybe I've just been really lucky, but...

Not my experience. They struggle to hit two-nines reliability.

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Re: Not a Virgin Company

As far as I know it is owned by megamogul Malone and his company, Liberty Global.

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Voyager antenna operator: 'I was the first human to see images from Neptune'

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Re: To see what no man has seen before

Many jobs have their rewarding moments, e.g. -

- When a teacher sees the penny drop in one of their pupils.

- When a salesman sees the customer sign on the dotted line.

- When a manager sees the work completed on time and budget, and signed off.

- When a politician wins an election.

I think of James Clerk Maxwell, who predicted electromagnetic waves. He also calculated their speed, based on measured constants in the lab, and it was as near as dammit the speed of light. That was the first clue to what light really is.

But the Voyager man has every right to be happy in his job.

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Are Asimov's laws enough to stop AI stomping humanity?

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Re: Not meant to be taken seriously

Asimov's laws are just wishful thinking, with no solid foundation in the laws of mathematics or of physics.

It will need a few more layers of logic before we reach a level that can entertain Asimov's laws.

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Re: Drafting laws

As a Brit, I have often looked at the constitution of the USA in that way.

It is a product of the Age of Reason, aimed at charting the way forward for a new nation. It has lasted a remarkably long time, and deserves more respect in Britain and Europe than it normally gets.

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Re: 0th

@John70

Sometimes it is just easier to pick a random number. When you look not at one road crash but 10,000, it does look random.

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Antarctica declared world's most volcanic region as 91 new cones found beneath ice

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Re: Ocean ridges

@Comedy..

An active volcano can emit 1000 tons of lava per second. If 1% of that is CO2, that is 10 tons per second. Lets estimate there are 1000 volcanoes, if the ocean ridges are included. So 1E4 tons per second, or 3E11 tons per year.

Kind of dwarfs the human output.

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Ocean ridges

I suspect most of the world's volcanoes lie along the ocean ridges; pumping out carbon dioxide into the oceans on a greater scale than men burning coal and oil.

I therefore predict that all those climate change policies imposed on us by campaigners will make s*d all difference to the earth's climate.

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Kremlin's hackers 'wield stolen NSA exploit to spy on hotel guests in Europe, Mid East'

Primus Secundus Tertius
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But it is so difficult to find reliable staff these days!

You don't expect a VIP to do these things, do you?

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Opening document files

A .docx file should be less risky, as it does not contain macros; .docm is for modern macro-infested files.

Microsoft do not make it easy to construct "live CDs". But there is Hiren's boot CD, which includes a word processor that will read .doc files. Alternatively, there is the penguin and friends. All these can also run from USB memory sticks.

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Google and its terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week in full

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@jrd

I have read the full text of Damore's document, including the TL;DR at the front.

In my opinion he seems to be saying that you recruit someone on individual ability regardless of sex or race. But when you are judging company policies and their effectiveness you must use the science of statistics. Unfortunately, few politicians, managers, lawyers, journalists, or internet trolls understand the science of statistics. He even includes a graph to show how variability in any attribute between group A and group B will lead to both groups existing within an average sample, because of the overlap of the probability distributions. But extreme samples will be dominated by one group. The example I use with that graph is the average height of men and women.

Damore wrote a sincere, professional, and courteous document. To be fired for writing that is disgraceful, and I hope Google get legally hammered for their misdeed.

At one time el Reg might have understood his statistical arguments, but those days seem to be long gone.

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@Adam52

Half the drivers on the road are below average, and in some places it is worse than that.

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Blocking peeps on social media? That's a paddlin' for governors, senators, house reps

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@IMG

"Democracy" is organised when a group of people organise their supporters to post if favour of some internet petition. OK, I was stretching the meaning of the word democracy.

Especially when these organised efforts actually thwart the unspoken sensitivities of the decent apathetic majority. Yes, this does happen, in GB and US.

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The pols are saying thay do not normally block individuals. They do block organised "campaigners" who clog up their inboxes with identical copies of the same parroted message.

"Organised democracy" is very different from personal liberty.

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London Mayor slams YouTube over failure to remove 'shocking' violent gang vids

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Obviously wrong

Any ordinary person with a grain of common sense can see that these videos are obviously criminally wrong. The Mayor is not trying to impose his personal wishes, he is acting on behalf of millions of ordinary voters.

It is time the myopic "freedom fighters" in the computer industry woke up to their civic responsibilities. If they refuse to do that in the British way they may end up doing it the Peking way.

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UK publishes Laws of Robotics for self-driving cars

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Good software design needed

Underlying all the good intentions listed in the report is a requirement that the software design be first class. This means looking ahead during the design stage at all the things that might go wrong, and dealing with them without letting the system crash.

This is much more effort than designing only for when things go right, and is discouraged by most managers. So external validation will be necessary.

At a minimum, all software should be put through an official driving test.

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Re: What should it do when it is suddenly blind?

@Lysenko

A long time ago, when diesel lorries used to emit thick black exhaust fumes, I was driving one night. I could see a lorry coming the other way, lit up like a Xmas tree. What I did not see, because it was night, was its thick black exhaust.

As we passed, suddenly I could see nothing. I was doing about 50mph, totally blinded. I started braking, and after a second or so emerged from the smoke without incident. Angry, mind you.

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UK waves £45m cheque, charges scientists with battery tech boffinry

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Long timescales

The example I give to non-scientists about long timescales is the transistor.

The first working transistor was built in 1947 or 48. They did not make a big difference to ordinary life until the late 1960s when numerous transistors could be put onto one integrated circuit. But the fundamental physics of the transistor is the quantum mechanics developed in universities in the 1920s.

So in this major example there is a gap of forty years between university research and practical payoff.

I support the earlier comment by Phil O'Sophical that the government should encourage, by paying for it, the study of STEM subjects.

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The Reg chats to Ordnance Survey's chief data wrangler

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@andy28

the best isn't what people want will pay for.

FTFY

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