* Posts by AdamWill

1038 posts • joined 4 Nov 2010

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'I feel violated': Engineer who pointed out traffic signals flaw fined for 'unlicensed engineering'

AdamWill

Re: Would I be wrong..

Actually, yeah, you would. Oregon is in the Pacific Northwest (just south of Washington state), typically one of the most 'liberal' (in US parlance) parts of the country. Its major city is Portland - the one that Portlandia is about.

It's not *quite* so simple because if you get out east into inland areas of any PNW region, things can get a bit bible-bash-y. But I doubt those folks have a lot do with the state's board of engineers or whatever they call themselves.

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AdamWill

Optional

So I read the legal decision, not just the article.

There's a reasonable argument, at least, for regulating some specific status like "chartered engineer", as several other commenters have claimed. But indeed Oregon doesn't seem to do that - the bits of the code cited can be read as covering just the word "engineer", and the judgment actually seems to do so (by finding that he was in violation of it by calling himself a "Swedish engineer" and an "excellent engineer"). Which is pretty ballsy and difficult to defend in a world where most places don't do that.

But that's not even the worst part. The worst part (to me) is the definition of engineering itself:

"( 1) "Practice of engineering" or "practice of professional engineering" means

doing any of the following:

(a) Performing any professional service or creative work requiring

engineering education, training and experience.

(b) Applying special knowledge of the mathematical, physical and

engineering sciences to such professional services or creative work as

consultation, investigation, testimony, evaluation, planning, design and

services during construction, manufacture or fabrication for the purpose of

ensuring compliance with specifications and design, in connection with any

public or private utilities, structures, buildings, machines, equipment,

processes, works or projects * * * *."

That seems to be stating - and the board certainly seems to be interpreting it as stating - that you don't actually have to be performing any practical *work* to be 'practicing engineering'. You just have to be involved in some sort of "creative work", i.e., thinking about stuff and writing it down.

There's an exemption mentioned later on which exempts you if you don't offer your work to the public, but that's still patently absurd. It seems like basically anyone who thinks about traffic light timings and writes their thoughts on a comment thread, or forum, or Facebook post or something, would be in violation of this ridiculous rule. And it's pretty hard to see how *that's* not a clear violation of the First Amendment.

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Flatpak and Snaps aren't destined for graveyard of failed Linux tech yet

AdamWill

False opposition

I think the opposition quite a lot of the comments here are assuming is a false one. This isn't a case of 'app developers are pushing Flatpak / Snappy to cut out those distribution packagers'.

Snappy is made by a distribution vendor (Canonical). Flatpak is supported by several distributions, notably Fedora (note: I work on Fedora). Distributions are actually quite interested in shipping stuff using these 'sandboxed blob' systems.

Fedora Workstation folks, for instance, are currently working on building an OStree-based version of the product, for which you'd install additional applications as Flatpaks. They envision shipping at least some first-party Flatpaks as part of this effort.

I believe Canonical is similarly interested in Snap as a distribution vector for software on Ubuntu IoT and cloud products.

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O (n^2) Canada! Code bugs knacker buses, TV, broadband, phone lines

AdamWill

Optional

What a weird story - would you report on, oh, a major TalkTalk outage and something going wrong with London buses in the same story? Cos that's basically what you're doing here. There's absolutely no link whatsoever between Shaw and the TTC besides "they're both in Canada" (the world's second-largest country by area, fact fans!) and "they both have computers". I dunno, just seems weird.

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Super-secure Pi-stuffed nomx email server box given a good probing

AdamWill

Optional

According to his write-up, they sent him an email 'challenging' him to demonstrate his claims...from one of their crappy devices, so it went to his spam folder. They didn't bother to verify receipt. Then twelve hours later they posted the claim that he hadn't been able to demonstrate.

https://twitter.com/Scott_Helme/status/857617936902754304

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SourceForge: Let's hold hands in a post-CodePlex world

AdamWill

Re: Sourceforge...

"Still wonder, anyway, how many people who loather - rightly - MS monopoly, are fully ready to accept other monopolies like Google or GitHub."

GitHub is a particularly delicious irony, given where git came from in the first place.

I'm always saddened and amazed to find out how many people don't know this, though.

(If you're one of them: look up "Bitkeeper".)

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Come celebrate World Hypocrisy Day

AdamWill

Sigh, so Andrew wrote his article again, for, what is this, the two hundredth time now?

Let's try a different response to it, this time.

Honestly, Andrew, I think you have quite a lot of a good point in general. Google, Facebook etc. certainly are doing a lot of benefiting from other people's work, and of course a lot of the reason they push for various legal changes is to let them keep doing this.

But you never seem to look at the *other* side of the question. You like to talk about copyright in very idealistic terms, about how it protects the rights of individual creators. And it *does* do this, and I agree that broadly speaking this is a social good, and we should frankly disregard the people whose argument is basically "I want to be able to take other people's stuff without paying for it". There's no need to accommodate those folks in a reasonable debate.

But there *is* a reasonable middle ground to this debate. You never seem to engage with the problem of cynical self-interest on the *other* end of the copyright debate spectrum. In just the same way as Google and Facebook aren't *really* going to bat for ordinary people in most of their IP lobbying, large media conglomerates aren't *really* going to bat for ordinary creators in most of *their* IP lobbying. When large media companies push for yet another extension of copyright terms - what are they up to, now, the life of the creator plus the heat death of the universe? - they're clearly not bothered about making sure creators get recompensed. They want to make sure that large media companies can continue to make money off the creator's work a century after all the creator's descendants have perished.

When large media companies push for laws that effectively ban format shifting, they're not concerned about individual creator's rights. They just want to try and make more money by compelling us to buy the same thing from them five times.

It'd be really nice if, in future, you could look at the topic in a more balanced way, and recognize that there are large, rich, cynical, self-interested lobbyists at *both* ends of most copyright debates, not just one end. And that those of us who object to some elements of maximalist copyright laws aren't all just a bunch of pirates or a bunch of saps who've been duped by Google. Some of us are just regular people who are perfectly happy to respect creator's rights but, at the same time, would like to be able to make our own choices about where and in what format we store and consume the content we're paying for.

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Ewe, get a womb! Docs grow baby lambs in shrink-wrap plastic bags

AdamWill

Excellent.

"Ewe, get a womb!"

Headline of the month, right there. Proceed directly to the pub and collect many, many pints, that writer.

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Would you believe it? The Museum of Failure contains quite a few pieces of technology

AdamWill

Re: "Let's start with a classic: the Apple Newton"

It didn't work very well, didn't sell very well, lost money, and was quickly abandoned. This is clearly a failure. Companies don't make products in the hopes that they'll lose a ton of money but "inspire" a bunch of stuff to happen a decade later. They make products in the hopes they can sell a ton of them and make lots of money.

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AdamWill

Re: FFS...

Kicking off the world's 16,789,345th pointless Linux vs. Windows thread in the comments of an article that really has nothing to do with it is certainly trolling.

This is about a museum of *failure*. You can dislike Windows, you can dislike Linux, but it's clearly absurd to call either of them failures.

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AdamWill

Optional

The board.

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systemd-free Devuan Linux hits version 1.0.0

AdamWill

Optional

"From the point of view of an end user does systemd or sys V init make any difference or is it just something for those totally unhelpful twits on the forums to argue about."

About 5% of #1, 95% #2.

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Wait – we can explain, says Moby, er, Docker amid rebrand meltdown

AdamWill

Re: Name Change, what for?

A cynical person might suggest that this is in fact the effect they *want* this name change to have: they want the name 'Docker' to be associated with the for-profit products they sell, not the open source project. So they renamed the open source project to something else...

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AdamWill

Optional

Not to mention that git was designed to be distributed, not really for an 'upstream / downstream' model. The standard git term for a repository somewhere else is a 'remote', an intentionally more generic term.

'upstream' has slipped into git docs here and there over time, I note, but 'remote' is definitely the original term.

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Hard-pressed Juicero boss defends $400 IoT juicer after squeezing $120m from investors

AdamWill

Re: All the cost of a juicer at considerably more of the price (HP printer business model)

Why do you think this thing requires a wifi connection?

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'We should have done better' – the feeble words of a CEO caught using real hospital IT in infosec product demos

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

AWS v Oracle: Mark Hurd schooled on how to run a public cloud that people actually use

AdamWill

Re: Over-reliance on single nodes ...

No-one uses Powerpoint any more, granddad. Don't you know everyone builds their slide decks devops style then stores them in Cloud 2.0? Jeez.

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Silicon Valley tech CEO admits beating software engineer wife, offered just 13 days in the clink

AdamWill

Re: Jail time should be 5 years

"Immigrant, no idea whether a legalized US citizen or resident alien"

You could try reading the story. It says she's a citizen.

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Why Firefox? Because not everybody is a web designer, silly

AdamWill

Re: History repeating

FWIW, I'd recommend replacing ABP with ublock and noscript with umatrix. They're substantially more capable replacements. umatrix especially is a lot more powerful and flexible than noscript, and - the most practical benefit - lets you change the settings for multiple domains without reloading the goddamn page between *every single change*...

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AdamWill

Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

"So does ALSA, in theory. That was the whole USP for it to replace OSS back in the day."

No, it wasn't. ALSA replaced OSS in most distributions a long time before dmix (the ALSA feature that allows for software stream mixing) was introduced; this is why we used to have various other things that sat on top of ALSA and did stream mixing which no-one remembers terribly fondly (principally esd and arts).

The reason ALSA replaced OSS was that OSS went to a partially proprietary model (the kernel included a subset of it referred to as OSS/Free - obviously, it wasn't going to include the non-free bits) and development especially of the free software part of OSS stalled heavily.

PA does software stream mixing, but that's not the only reason for it to be used. It's a 'sound server', like arts or esound were (or like JACK, which is also a sound server, just one tailored specifically to pro audio usage), which provides a convenient interface you can write apps for and easily get the capabilities that most normal applications need, without having to deal with ALSA's much lower level and more awkward interfaces directly (and reinvent stuff like source / output selection).

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AdamWill

Optional

"Pulse was originally intended to be a replacement for ALSA, but development stalled"

Um. No it wasn't. PA was never designed to replace ALSA. It was always designed as a higher level, more pleasant interface for apps to use, since writing to ALSA is kind of a nightmare. Here is an article from 2007 that explains this perfectly well:

https://www.linux.com/news/why-you-should-care-about-pulseaudio-and-how-start-doing-it

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NASA agent faces heat for 'degrading' moon rock sting during which grandmother wet herself

AdamWill

Re: Pay to live and live to pay

...sure, they have to see you. Then send you an extremely large bill you have no prospect of paying.

This absurd system is also why large chunks of your population go to the emergency room for care that could be provided much better and for much less money elsewhere, without tying up the resources intended for dealing with, you know, *emergencies*; it's a major reason why you spend far more money for far worse outcomes than just about every other developed nation.

But by all means, stick with it! Jeez.

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AdamWill

"All moon rock ever is owned by the US government and no-one can possibly sell it!" is NASA's preferred line, but is not universally accepted by people who know stuff about the law, FWIW.

http://loweringthebar.net/2017/04/ninth-circuit-moon-rock-sting-case.html

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Canonical sharpens post-Unity axe for 80-plus Ubuntu spinners

AdamWill

Optional

Yeah, TBH as a remote employee (not of Canonical...) myself I can't really get angry about that. If I was gonna get laid off I wouldn't expect - or, really, want - the trouble of being flown to an office somewhere just to be told I was getting canned. (Or having someone flown out to me, or whatever).

If they're doing it to people who actually work in Canonical offices with managers that's one thing, but if you're a remote employee, it seems kinda par for the course.

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Ubuntu UNITY is GNOME-MORE: 'One Linux' dream of phone, slab, desktop UI axed

AdamWill

Re: Horses and stable doors

Eh? That's one of the key principles of GNOME Shell, and one of the things people keep complaining about (all the 'but where's the dock?!' people).

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AdamWill

Re: Mir -> Wayland then?

Can't see it happening any other way. There is absolutely no reason for them to spend money building Mir any more.

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NY court slaps down Facebook's attempt to keep accounts secret from search warrants

AdamWill

Re: Does not compute...

Oh, no-one's confused. That's exactly how it's supposed to work.

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Red Hat: OpenStack big, getting bigger, OpenShift fatter than Linux

AdamWill

Re: What do you expect?

Uh. Yes. Sure. So? I don't see how describing customers considering not renewing support as a 'threat' to revenues is somehow incompatible with that. Note the *vector* of the 'threat' in question: *FROM* the customer *TO* RH. RH isn't threatening customers.

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AdamWill

What do you expect?

Disclosure: I work for Red Hat, but not in a customer-facing role (I work on Fedora, which has no customers).

I really dunno why you'd find that a problem. Jim's talking about *existing customers* who, when their support contracts expire, invoke the possibility of cancelling their support contracts and going self-supported instead (either as a negotiation tactic, or as a genuine option).

Remember the context of the call: it's an *investor* call. It's Jim, speaking on behalf of the company, talking to people with a very strong interest in the company making money. In that context, I don't see how you possibly *can* describe that from the perspective of the company other than as a 'threat'. We're a for-profit company, we need paying customers to survive. Our shareholders need us to have paying customers in order for their shares to have any value. So of course, from our perspective, the possibility of losing a paying customer is a 'threat'.

Of course no sane salesperson (I've heard they exist! Honest!) would describe it as a 'threat' when actually dealing with a customer. Nor would Jim phrase it that way when talking to customers rather than talking to shareholders, or talking to our sales teams. But really, it seems silly to take umbrage at the use of the term in this context.

Say you currently have a contract with Microsoft, but you're considering buying from Red Hat or Google instead when the contract comes to an end. Surely it's reasonable for Microsoft to consider that a 'threat' to their sales? Would you really get snarky about it if they described it that way, in an earnings call? There's really no difference to this case. A customer going to 'self-support' - which, to be clear, means using our software without paying us any money, an option you have with very few software providers! - is clearly a 'threat' to our revenue.

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US Senate votes to let broadband ISPs sell your browser histories

AdamWill

Optional

Don't worry! Competition will fix it!

You know, all that competition that exists in the highly competitive US ISP marketplace.

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Hutch's Three UK users ripping through over 6GB a month

AdamWill

Re: Pah!

I agree with you in general, but it is worth noting that UK LTE networks are...not the best. I consistently get well north of 30Mb/sec here in Vancouver, and that's on a three year old phone which doesn't even have the latest LTE version (it's cat4).

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What should password managers not do? Leak your passwords? What a great idea, LastPass

AdamWill

Re: Untrue statements?

"From what I can see, the extensions are still vulnerable?"

No, they're not. If you install a 4.x extension from https://lastpass.com/misc_download2.php currently you get 4.1.36a , which has the most recently reported vuln fixed:

https://bugs.chromium.org/p/project-zero/issues/detail?id=1217#c1

If you get a 3.x extension from the Firefox addon store, you get 3.3.4 , which has the earlier-disclosed vuln fixed. It's not explicitly stated in any of the discussion I could find, but if I'm reading between the lines correctly, the 1217 vuln would not exist in the 3.x addon.

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AdamWill

I'm sticking with Lastpass

Given that all the security issues mentioned in the article were fixed within 24 hours, I'm sticking with Lastpass.

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Spammy Google Home spouts audio ads without warning – now throw yours in the trash

AdamWill

Re: The Update is definitely a piece of wonderment....

Yeah, to summarize: "This is not an ad...j/k it's totally an ad"

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AdamWill

Re: Howdy-doodly-do...

Oh man - from now on, El Reg should *totally* refer to all these devices as Talkie Toasters. TTs for short.

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Canonical preps security lifeboat, yells: Ubuntu 12.04 hold-outs, get in

AdamWill

Re: Interesting situation

Oh, you'd be surprised. I work for Red Hat. RHEL 4 (released 2005) is still in extended support until the end of this month (and we're likely to still have people using it on 'bespoke' support deals after that).

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Security slip-ups in 1Password and other password managers 'extremely worrying'

AdamWill

Re: Totally Overrated / Fake Sense Of Security

So, what you're saying is, you'll keep re-using the same password for multiple different sites, then? Since no-one can possibly remember several hundred or thousand different strong passwords, many of which you will only use quite infrequently. Of course, sharing passwords across sites is one of the single worst problems with password security in general. But no, by all means, go on doing it.

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AdamWill

Re: Totally Overrated / Fake Sense Of Security

A notebook on a desk isn't much bloody use when I'm not *at* my desk. And no-one enjoys typing in truly strong passwords, so if you don't use software which fills them in for you, you have a strong incentive to make your passwords not really very strong (but more convenient to type).

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'Leaky' LG returns to sanity for 2017 flagship

AdamWill

Re: LG?

I wouldn't trust any kind of 'smart' telly as far as I could throw it, frankly. I've got one of LG's OLED models, but it only gets its network cable plugged in if I want to update the firmware.

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Bruce Schneier: The US government is coming for YOUR code, techies

AdamWill

Re: Compare and contrast

Well, no, it didn't. The whole ball started rolling back in the days when there were virtually no government regulations, and so you had a whole bunch of tiny banks which went broke with depressing regularity and were loath to do business with each other.

https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/economics/essays/us-banking-system-origin-development-and-regulation

"Banking crises occurred in 1837, 1839–1842, and 1857, years when many banks had to suspend convertibility of their bank notes and deposits into coin because their coin reserves were insufficient."

"Banking panics occurred in 1873, 1884, 1893, and 1907. The last was especially embarrassing because by 1907 the US economy was the largest in the world, as was the US banking system."

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AdamWill

Re: Well, maybe we should not put software in everything

Um. Because, what, other governments don't have a track record of regulating things that have an impact on human safety? There's no food standards agencies in other countries? Health and safety agencies? Hazardous chemical regulation?

Schneier is perfectly right, and people just waving stupid ideological flags about 'hur hur the government's always incompetent hur hur' isn't going to achieve anything.

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WTF is up with the W3C, DRM and security bods threatened – we explain

AdamWill

"The truth is that even the fiercest critics of DRM watch Netflix on their computers."

Speak for yourself, mate.

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Seven pet h8s: Verity is sorely vexed

AdamWill

Re: I'm not surprised most commenters against Unicode are anglophones

Um. No. Aside from Latin characters, Greek and 'Asian languages', you've got Cyrillic, Hebrew, Arabic and several different Indic scripts. Pre-Unicode, each of these had its own encoding - or multiple encodings - most of which didn't really take any account of how the others worked.

Unicode is massively, hugely better than the 'everyone gets their own encoding! You get an encoding! You get an encoding!' world we had before. Claiming that it only exists for Chinese (you know, that ridiculous little niche case, it's only *literally the world's most commonly spoken language*) is ridiculous.

(Also, it's rather silly to talk about 'write something in Mandarin'. Mandarin, Cantonese etc. are the *spoken dialect* variants of Chinese. There are two major written variants of Chinese, Traditional and Simplified. There's no 'written Mandarin Chinese', and there's no direct correlation between which spoken and which written variant you use, many combinations are possible).

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AdamWill

Re: I'm not surprised most commenters against Unicode are anglophones

As someone who started writing stuff in Python a few years back, and read up on all the unicode stuff as a part of that, I have to say I think the Python developers are broadly correct: Python 2's approach was bad, and Python 3's approach is better. You can see why the Python 2-era designers thought it was a good idea to fudge everything so developers never 'had to worry about' the distinction between strings of bytes and text, and didn't have to care about the various ways of interpreting the former as the latter, In A Time When it was still kind of okay to pretend you only ever had to care about ASCII. But it really *isn't* a good idea, and any time you have to deal with anything but ASCII, it really does tend to lead to difficulties. I think they're right that it's better to explicitly acknowledge the difference in the language. And if you're writing pure Python 3, it's really not that hard to work with - it's not rocket surgery, just encode() and decode() as necessary. (Especially since the default encoding for Python 3 is UTF-8, which is going to be the one you want about 99.99% of the time anyhow).

The reason people hate it so much, I think, is that it becomes unfortunately *much* more of a minefield if you want to write or maintain code that works with both Python 2 and Python 3. Which many many people do. Doing that in itself immediately gives you many, many more edge cases and headaches to deal with. (I've lost count of the number of times I wish I could go back in a time machine and change Python 2's default encoding to be UTF-8, for a start). It gets even worse if you're not starting from scratch - so you can just `from __future__ import unicode_literals` and get rid of quite a few of the issues, making at least *your* code behave quite a lot more similarly under the two interpreters, but are stuck with older code where you can't just do that because of existing assumptions about the way the code will handle strings on Python 2. If you're in that situation, it can be a bleeding nightmare.

It's definitely a shame, and I think some of the Python devs at this point wish they could do the whole thing over and try to somehow reduce the problems. But I don't think it's because the Python 3 design is wrong, or because the Python devs are arrogant, or anything. It's just one of those things that happens because this stuff is hard.

I don't think all the coders who complain are just knuckle-dragging Americans or Brits who refuse to believe that anyone really needs more than the sacred ASCII character set. You *do* get those types, but I think they're a minority. It's just that dealing with this stuff can be a pain even if you honestly do understand and accept the importance of handling ALL THE CHARACTERS.

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Google loses Android friends with Pixel exclusivity

AdamWill

Re: Given most OEMs' approach to Android updates,

Mozilla already gave up on Firefox OS anyway.

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El Reg drills into chatbot hype: The AIs that want to be your web butlers

AdamWill

Why?

This whole thing seems like such a bizarrely flawed idea.

Computers are computers. People are people. Conversation is a communication method for people, it's not a communication method for computers. Does anyone actually *want* to have a 'chat' with a computer? Does anyone actually *want* to 'build a rapport' with one? Am I way off base here and everyone else really is just waiting for the day when they have to keep up a witty and amusing back-and-forth with their house AI every day just to get at the goddamn news? I dunno, I feel like I must be missing something here.

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Put down the org chart, snowflake: Why largile's for management crybabies

AdamWill

Re: The truth.

" In one hilarious case, the end users (help desk staff) persuaded the coders that the requirement (from the help desk management) for a module to gather stats on their performance was not needed! You can probably guess how well that went down when the management sat down to do final acceptance testing."

These people are heroes, and will live forever in the Call Centre Drone Hall of Fame.

They were also correct: all systems for 'gathering stats on their performance' are crap and ultimately counter-productive (as they invariably wind up inducing the drones to care more about getting people off the phone as quickly as possible than about solving their problems).

Good story, though :)

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Well, that sucks: China's Tencent so sorry after vid emerges of faux blowjob office game

AdamWill

yikes

"Your humble Reg hack is old enough to remember when such games – usually involving balloons or bananas being passed intimately between coworkers at staff parties – were commonplace, but time has since moved on, it seems."

Well thank Christ for that, because that sounds awful.

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It's now 2017, and your Windows PC can still be pwned by a Word file

AdamWill

Re: Meanwhile, Adobe is updating blah de fucking blah

TicketMaster's 'choose your own seat' thing still, bizarrely, requires Flash.

But who are we kidding. The real answer is "porn". It's *always* "porn".

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