* Posts by jrd

56 posts • joined 6 Dec 2010


Only plebs use Office 2019 over Office 365, says Microsoft's weird new ad campaign


I'm still using Office 2003. It still does everything I need.

It may be poor man's Photoshop, but GIMP casts a Long Shadow with latest update


Picked up a cheap second-hand copy of Photoshop CS2 some years back after failing to get to grips with GIMP. CS2 does everything. Not at all easy to learn, but there's such an established user base that I can type "cs2 how to ..." for just about anything and find an an article or video to help me out. It's also been rock solid (probably the most reliable non-trivial application I've ever used).

UK.gov online dating tips: Do get consent, don't make false claims or fake profiles


Gender balance

I have a male friend who has used dating sites on and off for 20 years. He says that the message/response ratio has completely reversed as he has got older - he's in his early 50s and he gets women contacting him first now and finds it easy to get dates (which wasn't the case 20 years ago). Maybe he's writing better profiles now but his appearance hasn't changed much and he's not rich.

Hold on. Here's an idea. Let's force AI bots to identify themselves as automatons, says Cali


The last thing we want is bots being programmed to sound and act more like humans. If I'm calling Tech Support I do not want to have to interact with a chatty "human like" bot programmed by someone whose life ambition is to make something that can pass the Turing Test.

"Please let me speak to a human"

"What makes you think I am not a human, Sir? Sorry, I think I'm going to sneeze. My hay-fever's really been playing up this year"

Date engraved onto net neutrality tombstone: June 11, 2018


Well, at least we'd never elect a government which would do something so stupid here in the UK.


For some reason, you lot love 'em. So here are the many ThinkPads of 2018


Re: Something to look forward to

You too, huh? Currently using a second-hand T420 which replaced a second-hand X60 which replaced a second-hand X30... And they're all still working machines :-)

10 PRINT "ZX81 at 37" 20 GOTO 10


Re: Nostalgia

Correct. You'd then write a small loader program which would allow you to enter hex machine code into the REM statement. You couldn't safely load machine code directly into memory as this would be cleared automatically when you typed RUN so hiding it in a REM statement was a common trick.



First, type in 1 REM followed by 620 zeroes...

--- on a keyboard with no repeat where the screen redraw takes a measurable amount of time and happens after each keypress...

No Windows 10, no Office 2019, says Microsoft


Windows 7. Office 2003. Photoshop CS2. All stable, reliable, and functional.

And when I can no longer get updates for Windows 7, I'm off to Linux.

Meet R2-DILDO: 'Star Wars' sex toys? This is where the fun begins


> Daily Mail ran this story on 6th December. Only 3 weeks late. Keep up.

I'm sure this story was unearthed by El Reg's team of hard-working and dedicated researchers, I refuse to believe they're just copying old articles from the Daily Mail (the shame of it!)

Report: Women make up just 17% of IT workforce, paid 15% less than men


Re: A good point - complaints are directed at 'good jobs'

> I can't off the top of my head think of a well-paid role that women are over-represented in, though.

Veterinarians in the US are 81% female and have a Median pay of $87,590/year.

Lenovo spits out retro ThinkPads for iconic laptop's 25th birthday


Re: I dont see the appeal...

Here's what I like about the business-class Thinkpads:

Keyboards are generally very good

Machines are usually easy to service, and upgrade

Good documentation available and easy to get parts for

Usually, Trackpoint and trackpad and decent buttons

Big user base means pretty likely to find a solution to any problem you encounter

Robust, reliable, well built and last a long time

Usually reasonable selection of ports

No one thing makes me think I must buy a Thinkpad but whenever I look at the alternatives, they always seem to be missing features I want, even if they have better screens, higher performance and less weight.


Another fan

Now on my third Thinkpad - a T420 I bought second-hand four years ago for £329. All three machines still work (the X30 runs XP and the X60 runs Linux). Solid, dependable workhorses and I love the nipple mouse. They have their flaws but I wish everything in my life was as reliable as my Thinkpads.

Everyone loves programming in Python! You disagree? But it's the fastest growing, says Stack Overflow


Re: Perl or bust!

Perl - a solution to every problem.

Unfortunately, never the best solution to any problem...

Terry Pratchett's unfinished works flattened by steamroller


Re: I'm touched by the weirdness of this request...

+1 for the Tiffany Aching series. I think they're among Pratchett's most enjoyable books. Don't be put off by the 'Young Adult' label.

Foxit PDF Reader is well and truly foxed up, but vendor won't patch


Re: Alternatives/ Replacement

FWIW, I have used PDF-XChange Viewer for over a a year without problems. Seems at least "good enough" for casual use.

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


"A 10 page manifesto about his workplace? Seriously, who has the time? If I was that upset about my work I'd find a new job. Although if it afforded me the time time to write 10 pages of drivel I'd probably just keep quiet and take the money..."

Well, he did it in his own time. So far as I can tell, he really loved working at Google and was trying to do his bit to fix what he thought was wrong with the company (though, obviously, we can only speculate about his true motives). Many hi-tech companies encourage their staff to come up with ideas to improve the ways in which their company works. Was James naive and over-confident? Yes. Was he an idiot? Possibly. Did he expect to get fired? No.


Re: "why Blacks are such fast runners?"

"Especially since there is nearly a 50/50 mix in other countries like India and China. The difference in the US is obviously not genetic, unless someone wants to make a case that the difference between men and women in suitability for tech jobs exists only in Caucasians."

James' argument is that distribution of personality traits differs by sex (this is well supported by science) which leads to different preferences in career. However, women are not equally free in all countries to follow their preferences in career. Women in affluent, egalitarian societies are more free to choose the careers which match their personality traits, which leads to the large gender differences we see in some professions in the West. There is a lot of literature on this subject (also known as the Nordic Gender Equality Paradox).

There is a good discussion about some of James' points at http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exaggerated-differences/

Google diversity memo: Web giant repudiates staffer's screed for 'incorrect assumptions about gender'


Re: Article by a former "Google Distinguished Engineer"

> In truth, I'm not sure about his title - someone else mentioned it. In any case, this is actually a considered response, in my opinion: "So, about this Googler’s manifesto"

Well, if by "considered response" you mean "I would have him fired immediately and escorted from the building"... I think this response well illustrates the sort of problem the original manifesto was attempting to spotlight.

Snopes.com asks for bailout amid dispute over who runs the site and collects ad dollars


Re: Rubbish notion

> So, people must learn not to just trust one source, but to seek out many sources and make their own minds up.

Which leads to precisely the same problem faced by students of ancient history - many of the historical accounts are derivative and they rarely identify their sources (let alone their biases or the biases of their target audience).

Brits must now register virtually all new drones and undergo safety tests


This is nothing new. Plenty of hobbyists have found their hobby suddenly becomes regulated when it attracts government attention, often because of an upswell of interest or serious incident. It's frustrating but I can't see a way around it, other than regulate/restrict the drones themselves. Which would upset the enthusiasts even more...

CoinDash crowdfunding hack further dents trust in crypto-trading world


Like all Ponzi schemes, the digital currencies all suffer from the same problem - early adaptors are the ones who make all the money if it's successful. So why not just start your own digital currency, rather than paying to join someone else's? According to Wikipedia: "There were more than 900 cryptocurrencies available over the internet as of 11 July 2017 and growing".

UK regulator set to ban ads depicting bumbling manchildren


Re: This is a good thing

"Women are under-represented in STEM careers. Showing girls playing with stereotypically boys toys (Lego and Meccano for example) can encourage them to work in fields that aren't traditionally seen as feminine. Same goes for boys who may want to work in traditionally female dominated fields."

I understand the theory but this just isn't supported by evidence. The Scandinavian countries have been implementing equality legislation based on this theory for decades and the result is they have fewer women entering STEM careers than countries with far less equality. It seems that the more "equal" peoples' opportunities are, the more they gravitate towards the fields they are interested in - so women go into nursing and teaching and men go into engineering and construction. There is plenty of academic literature on the subject.

NHS WannaCrypt postmortem: Outbreak blamed on lack of accountability


Re: But they had Sophos

If an infected file couldn't be cleaned, it would be quarantined (made inaccessible) instead, wouldn't it? Then the sysadmin can sort it out. That's how Sophos Anti Virus works on my PC, anyway...

NHS Digital stopped short of advising against paying off WannaCrypt


Re: Survival of the fittest

It seems plenty of Windows 7 machines were affected because they hadn't been patched. This suggests that having the XP patches available would not necessarily have helped much.

If an organization has poor security practices and unreliable backups, it's going to be vulnerable no matter what.

Head of US military kit-testing slams F-35, says it's scarcely fit to fly


Re: There have been planes like this before. -De Havilland Mosquito

Well, that's sort-of true, but it's like saying the sniper rifle is a very cost effective weapon so all our soldiers should carry them. The Mosquito was a precision weapon and the Lancaster wasn't. If we had sent Mosquitos on thousand-bomber raids over Germany, they would have been shot to pieces by the German air defences.

Infosec white-coats: Robots are riddled with software security bugs


Legal liability?

If an autonomous domestic robot injures someone, is the manufacturer legally liable?

Does this change if the robot's software has been hacked?

Trump's 140 characters on F-35 wipes $2bn off Lockheed Martin


Re: "Grounded by bad weather? A fighter jet? You have GOT to be kidding me"

> Military aircraft are always being grounded by bad weather.

Well, yes - but you'd hope avionics had moved on in the last 70 years. Civilian airliners manage to fly in (nearly) all weathers, after all, and most of them are not state-of-the-art aircraft.

Is your Windows 10, 8 PC falling off the 'net? Microsoft doesn't care


Re: Reboot pray repeat

It's stuff like this that makes linux users smile with perhaps a hint of insufferable smugness and condescension

Fixed that you you...

UK warships to have less firepower than 19th century equivalents as missiles withdrawn


I have no problem with us deciding we don't need a modern, combat-capable army, navy and air force, but I do have a problem with us having the fourth largest military expenditure in the world and negligible capability in all areas except massive nuclear destruction.

And, if we're only planning on taking on pirates and third-world militias, what's the problem with our equipment being "obsolete" anyway?

Surface Book nightmare: Microsoft won't fix 'Sleep of Death' bug


Windows sleep

I've run two Lenovo laptops running XP and Windows 7 for the last 5 years - both sleep reliably (very occasional problems with applications which stop the machine sleeping but they are easy to spot).

Must say I'd find an the inability to sleep/resume reliably as a dealbreaker for a laptop!

Streetmap's lawyer: Google High Court win will have 'chilling effect’ on UK digital biz


streetmap.co.uk is still the best site (by far) I've found for tracing footpaths or planning walks in the UK.

I would be sad if it were to disappear, despite its limitations.

After Death Star II blew: Dissecting the tech of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens


Military rate of change

HMS Dreadnought was launched in 1906. She was the most advanced (and most expensive) battleship in the world at that time. She was obsolete by 1920 and sold for scrap.

The lifespan of weapons and rate of advance of technology is highly unpredictable...

Facepalm time: MS Office update wipes custom Word autotext


Ah, good old ed - once learned, never forgotten. I still use it occasionally (in scripts).

Painfully insecure GDS spaffs £21,000 on online narcissism tool


A government should seek feedback on its' performance. This may not be the best way to do it but it's also not the worst and £21k isn't much by the standards of government waste.

Of course, as others have already said, the difficult part is getting the government to actually *listen* to what people are saying - especially if it is not what they wish to hear (same problem with senior management in the private sector, in my experience).

Windows XP's market share grows AGAIN!


Two home PCs running XP and one Win 7. I only went to 7 because I bought a PC with more RAM than XP to handle.

Of the two versions, I prefer XP.

Google Now now SLURPS data from third party apps so YOU don't have to


Re: But trusting any corporation is risky.

Not predators, parasites - they don't want to kill you (or your wallet), they want you happy and healthy and continuing to use their services (or at least not actively trying to stop or get rid of them).


Re: Trust is gone

Welcome back - we've missed you! Nice to see you are already working hard to improve the quality of discussion here... :-)

Joking aside, we live in interesting times - I would not like to predict where the privacy debate will be in 10 or 20 years but the chances are we'll look back at this time and say this was when it all started to change...

(Re)touching on a quarter-century of Adobe Photoshop


The best reason to use Photoshop is that everyone else uses it - if you want to do some image manipulation in Photoshop, no matter how obscure, you can always find a solution with a quick web search or two. Often with a how-to video. Photoshop is the ultimate "industrial quality" application.

Scary code of the week: Valve Steam CLEANS Linux PCs (if you're not careful)


I once wrote a shellscript which, during testing, removed *itself* due to a malformed 'rm' command. I had to rewrite the script from scratch but at least I learned a valuable lesson!

Config management: Enemy of agile approach or the reason it WORKS?


Excellent article. As a former software configuration manager, I have seen what happens if a company doesn't treat CM seriously, and it isn't pretty!

'First' 3D-printed rifle's barrel splits after single shot


Oh for goodness' sake! How many of these "3D printing a gun" stories are you going to run?

It's a non-issue to anyone except the press or politicians looking for cheap PR.

Euro PC shipments plummet into bottomless pit of DOOOOM


Old PCs

My 7 year old laptop still does what I need. I don't have a compelling reason to replace the hardware - Windows XP, Office 2003 and Adobe Photoshop CS2 are all "good enough". PCs have become household appliances for most people - you keep the one you have until it breaks or won't get the job done. Or (maybe) Miscrosoft stops supporting the OS.

'Liberator': Proof that you can't make a working gun in a 3D printer


Re: Way to miss the point...

[Quote] This is a gamechanger for two reasons. Should I want to put a bullet in David Cameron, dont tempt me, with this I can make it myself, disguise it if I want to, and all I need to do is find the guy (probably when he's daughter hunting again), walk past, jam in in his gut and pull the trigger. [End]

Bullets are not freely available in the UK. And, if you're sourcing the bullets illegally, why not buy a gun the same way? Or, why not just stab him with a knife? It will be just as lethal as a small, low-velocity bullet.

Doesn't seem like a game-changer to me.

Lenovo proclaims PC victory, re-orgs to take on Apple

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Re: Lenovo Thinkpads are not IBM Thinkpads

Typing this on a Lenovo Thinkpad X60 Tablet, my main computer. Bought it second hand 4 years ago and still going strong! Excellent bit of kit - vendors who offer 3 year warranties build their kit to last.

Ever had to register to buy online - and been PELTED with SPAM?

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gmail works

I've had 1 email address for 10 years which I use for everything, and I do a lot of shopping online, I'm on mailing lists etc and I must say almost no spam gets past gmail's excellent filters. Those that do always seem to respond to unsubscribe requests, so I would recommend this extremely simple and low-overhead combination if you have spam problems.

Chinese court orders Apple to cough £100k to writers for violating copyright


Hmm, government puts the interests of its' own citizens ahead of those of foreign multinational companies, who would have expected that? I wonder if that'll catch on in the West too...

Bankrupt Kodak misses $2bn target, flogs imaging patents for $525m


Re: Even with $2.6B

No, this isn't price fixing. It's companies learning that the strategy of bidding up the value of patent portfolios on the basis they can screw their competitors later isn't a great way to run a business. Which is a step in the right direction in my book.

Gaping hole in Google service exposes thousands to ID theft


Re: Blimey...

Jeremy Clarkson was apparently quoted over £20,000 to insure a Ford Escort (a fast one), and that was over 20 years ago. Expensive car insurance isn't only a modern phenomenon!

(And I think that was before he was famous, so I don't think they pushed the quote up because it was him...)


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