* Posts by Paul 195

149 posts • joined 20 Jan 2011


Tech giant to spend $500m dealing with housing crisis caused by tech giants

Paul 195

Re: Clever idea to retain employees

@Trainee grumpy old ****

Yes, that was the way I read the article too. But since it is Microsoft, no amount of logic or facts will prevent those who think Microsoft is the embodiment of wickedness from dumping all over it.

Army had 'naive' approach to Capita's £1.3bn recruiting IT contract, MPs told

Paul 195

Re: Actually...

@Tom 7 has the right of it; the idea that public/government entities are woefully inefficient compared to private companies has been tested to destruction by almost four decades of privatisation. Time and time again, basic maths shows that there are no magic efficiencies available from the private sector, but the need to pay shareholders a profit means costs are only cut by employing the same staff under worse conditions to do the job they were doing before, only with more shortcuts taken and worse outcomes.

In the case of civil service outsourcing of IT, any expertise inside the civil service to either carry out large projects themselves, or even be in a position to judge how well they are being managed by outsourcers is now long gone.

Begone, Demon Internet: Vodafone to shutter old-school pioneer ISP

Paul 195

Re: tenner-a-month?

Yep, that was Demon. They were great once, but after they changed hands the service gradually got worst. I finally binned them sometime round the early noughties as their ability to provide a reliable ADSL service got worse every time they "upgraded". And of course, they had long since outsourced their help lines from people who understood the system and cared, to some remote call centre on the other side of the world staffed by people following a script.

This is the final straw, evil Microsoft. Making private GitHub repos free? You've gone too far

Paul 195

If Microsoft cured cancer and ended poverty, there would be hordes of people ready to explain how it was another evil scheme. They are no worse than most other large capitalist enterprises, and better than some.

A few reasons why cops haven't immediately shot down London Gatwick airport drone menace

Paul 195

Re: Won't someone think of the great, great, great grandchildren.


Only someone with a poor grip on reality thinks our problems are caused by the third world. Because poor people don't consume many resources or contribute much to global warming. Bravely pointing out an irrelevance makes you look silly. I can't comment on whether you are racist as well or not.

Blighty: We spent £1bn on Galileo and all we got was this lousy T-shirt

Paul 195

Don't worry

Brexit looks increasingly unlikely as there is no deal imaginable that will get through the house of commons, and none of the politicians saying that "no deal is better than a bad deal" actually have the balls to do it. They are quite keen on someone else doing it, but Boris and Gove would never do it. JRM might just, but he's a few nannies short of the full Norland's College to be honest.

Shortages, price rises, recession: Tech industry preps for hard Brexit

Paul 195

Re: And all we can do...

I don't want a second referendum. I want the grownups to put a stop to this Brexit nonsense. The people who want Brexit need to go away and only comeback when they have a properly costed plan.

No, that Sunspot Solar Observatory didn't see aliens. It's far more grim

Paul 195

Re: Jackanory

>> Where's Bombastic Bob when we really need him?

He's run out of capital letters and is waiting for a fresh delivery.

Solid password practice on Capital One's site? Don't bank on it

Paul 195

Re: Single figure entry

> Re: Single figure entry

> Surprised that password managers don't have a "three named chars" function yet, since it does come up > a lot.

Password Safe does (https://pwsafe.org)

You want to know which is the best smartphone this season? Tbh, it's tricky to tell 'em apart

Paul 195

Re: My wishlist

And wireless charging !

Often derided by those who haven't actually used it.

Another German state plans switch back from Linux to Windows

Paul 195

Re: Lots of companies run Linux including Google

> So in years time, the landscape might shift a lot more than we currently expect.

Yes! It will be the Year Of Linux On The Desktop. (again).

BBC websites down tools and head outside into the sun for a while

Paul 195

Sounds like a shoo-in for "Who, me?"

Unbreakable smart lock devastated to discover screwdrivers exist

Paul 195

Still giggling

"We designed this fingerprint lock of againsting [sic] theft," it begins. "However the lock is invincible to the people who do not have a screwdriver."

At last, a solution for those of us who need to repel hordes of screwdriverless rogues.

Sub-Prime: Amazon's big day marred by server crashes, staff strikes

Paul 195

Re: I did write to the Gates Foundation...

To be fair to Mr Gates, although Microsoft in their evil empire heyday of the late 90s were notorious for crushing their competitors to dust, nobody ever suggested that they treated their staff badly to the point where they had to pee in bottles etc... or that they paid them as little as they could get away with.

Euro bank regulator: Don't follow the crowd. Stay off the cloud

Paul 195

Just be sensible

Keep your crown jewels locked up in your own data-centre/private cloud, but take advantage of public cloud for scaling for your public facing web services etc. And be aware that vendor lock in is definitely a thing with public clouds. Your code running on commodity hardware is easily portable, but all the metadata and scripts that keep your service elastic and fault tolerant are not.

Giffgaff admits to billing faff, actually tells folk to turn it off and on again

Paul 195

Re: Sheeple

I suspect the reason it took GiffGaff so long to notice is that in practice it will have affected very few users. Most GiffGaff users who require data will already be using a goodybag for it, and this problem explicitly only affects those users who were using airtime credit to pay for data and switched to a goodybag part way through. if you want to abuse customers perfectly happy with GiffGaff as "fanboys" that's fine, but the fact is most of who use it find a perfectly adequate way to purchase usage of what is these days a commodity service; mobile telephony and data. I wouldn't put my "love" of it any higher than that, and since no GiffGaff user is tied to them with a contract, anyone who doesn't like it can terminate the relationship whenever they want.

Amazon, eBay and pals agree to Europe's other GDPR: Generally Dangerous Products Removed from websites

Paul 195

Re: Ha

Don't you kind of wish for a world where Trading Standards Officers were like Judge Dredd? "Step away from the botulism laced hotdogs, perp!" On reflection though, that might (literally) be overkill.

Paul 195

Re: Ha

I quite agree. The idea that merchants should be forced to only sell items that match the description and meet all relevant safety legislation is clearly bonkers. Would you be interested in signing a petition to scrap the MOT as well, since these killjoys are determined to keep deathtraps off the roads? I'd suggest that legislation on who and who can't service and install equipment connected to the gas main is also outdated red tape which only serves to stifle innovative business models. There's no limit once we free our imaginations.

Paul 195

Hurrah that Brexit will soon free us from nanny-statism getting between consumers and rapacious multinationals! Hurrah! Facebook will be free to slurp as much data from us as it likes! Hurrah! Amazon can resume the profitable business of selling exploding hoverboards, butterfly knives, and god knows what else into the UK in only a year's time.

I can't wait.

Schneier warns of 'perfect storm': Tech is becoming autonomous, and security is garbage

Paul 195

Re: SkyNet is coming!

My phone beeps and tells me when I have an appointment, or have to go and do somethng, and I obey. Are you sure SkyNet isn't already here? It doesn't need to destroy us, it's already in charge.

Paul 195

Re: ahum, dumb fucks ?

@DCFusor - I wish I could upvote your post more than once. Given the number of people on the El Reg forums who are IT professionals in different capacities, we are the people who have collectively built the insecure mess the "dumb fucks" (or otherwise) are stuck with. A little more humility from all of us commentards would be welcome.

You should find out what's going on in that neural network. Y'know they're cheating now?

Paul 195

Re: recursive obscurity

> Neural nets are like people, "I don't know how I came up with it, I just did" is an intrinsic characteristic of both.

Not quite true - if you ask someone how they came up with the idea for a song or a novel, you might get that answer. But if you ask a doctor why they made a particular diagnosis (for example), they will be able to explain their reasoning. For a lot of the classification type tasks AI is being used for, explaining their reasoning is very useful.

A Reg-reading techie, a high street bank, some iffy production code – and a financial crash

Paul 195

Re: Or...

You aren't wrong that the programmer doesn't necessarily need to code a loop, but I think you might have picked up downvotes because none of the examples provided actually makes the intent nearly as obvious as the original code. And certainly nowhere near as obvious as the COBOL snippets in some of the other comments. All of the "no loop" examples require a certain amount of thinking time to unpick.

Trump’s new ZTE tweet trumps old ZTE tweets that trumped his first ZTE tweet

Paul 195

Re: Toddler

@bombastic bob

Why HAVE you written your COMMENT in SUCH a S H O U T Y way?

Uber robo-ride's deadly crash: Self-driving car had emergency braking switched off by design

Paul 195

Re: Not ready for prime time

Except learner drivers are usually accompanied by an experienced instructor with dual controls, * who is paying attention because he isn't expected to be doing paperwork while instructing *

Paul 195

Re: State of pedestrian irrelevant

I couldn't agree more with you.

This: "Toxicology results showed she [the pedestrian] tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana." seems completely irrelevant in view of the fact that she was run over by a vehicle that had plenty of time to stop. But the cynic in me says Uber will at some point try to spin this information to deflect public approbation away from them.

They have form in this area: https://gizmodo.com/uber-settles-lawsuit-alleging-it-obtained-rape-victim-i-1821156541

Facebook Android app caught seeking 'superuser' clearance

Paul 195

The Facebook app is a resource hogging PITA. I went back to using the mobile version of the website about a year before I finally quit using FB completely. There are very few mobile apps that couldn't be simply replaced by a decent website, and then you don't have to play security bingo while you try to work out whether all the permissions being requested are actually reasonable.

How could the Facebook data slurping scandal get worse? Glad you asked

Paul 195

Re: On curves, and being behind them.

> They've never done fark-awl about securing Zucklandia against exploitation, and now the shoes are well and firmly on the wrong feet. And, to switch back to the original metaphor, the curve is so far ahead of them they can't even see the rise. Couldn't happen to a more deserving enterprise, IMHO.

All of which kind of assumes that Facebook cares in the slightest about 3rd parties exploiting their data. History shows they only ever care rather belatedly, when someone gets caught doing it and there's an uproar. Otherwise, the system appears to be working exactly as intended.

LLVM contributor hits breakpoint, quits citing inclusivity intolerance

Paul 195

Re: White Hysteria?

> Gee, sounds like something straight out of a Goebbels speech about how oppress and ignored Germans > were after WWI.

I invoke Godwin's law. You lose.

Paul 195
Paris Hilton

White Hysteria?

El Reg commentators are generally a pretty reasonable bunch, but there's something about this stuff that sends a lot of them into a frothing rage. My middle-aged whiteness here won't protected me from being punished with downvotes for saying this, but:

1) The point of diversity initiatives is not to "punish you for the sins of your ancestors" as one commentard below has said. It really is an attempt to level the playing field, a playing field that white heterosexual men (like me!) barely ever recognise as actually being tilted. Sometimes these efforts can be pretty ham-fisted, and if it tips into open discrimination against white folks, well, that is also wrong.

2) Somebody below complained that they literally "could not be heard" because they were white and middle aged. Well, that doesn't seem very fair, but welcome to the world as perceived by most women, which is even worse if you are any colour of woman other than white.

3) The term Social Justice Warrior really irritates me. It seems some of the people chucking it around really are "snowflakes" to pick up another pejorative term which started out with the alt-right. They pick up their ball and go off in a huff whenever anyone points out that large parts of the world of work are still overwhelmingly run by and for white men.

4) White privilege is becoming a problematic term. I think MacPherson's formulation of "institutional racism" in his report into the botched Stephen Lawrence enquiry is a much more precise and accurate way of defining the problem. It also allows us to admit that institutional racism is not something only practiced by white people, but can also be found alive and kicking in many Asian countries. It also doesn't imply that all white people are privileged in other ways, which clearly many are not.

Oh, and Paris Hilton because I thought something decorative on this post might lesson the rage of some readers. OK guys, I don't mind your downvotes but at least try to keep your replies civil.

You have GNU sense of humor! Glibc abortion 'joke' diff tiff leaves Richard Stallman miffed

Paul 195
Big Brother

This is one of those cases where you wish everyone involved could lose. It's a crap joke that does little to help understand abort(), and Stallman makes himself look ridiculous by going to such lengths to defend it. Claiming it's really offensive and will "trigger" people is also ridiculous. Some people might find it mildly offensive, but the average twitter stream will contain far worse.

Cambridge Analytica dismantled for good? Nope: It just changed its name to Emerdata

Paul 195

I can't be the only person who saw the headlines about CA shutting up shop today and thought "They'll be back in a month under a different name". Turns out they haven't even waited a month.

ICANN takes Whois begging bowl to Europe, comes back empty

Paul 195

If foreign businesses want to collect money from customers in the EU, they have to have some sort of presence here to collect said money. For example Facebook could presumably retreat completely from Europe, but then they'd have no way of making money on advertising to EU customers. And that's a lot of money, even for Facebook. So they either behave or do without the business.

Audiophiles have really taken to the warm digital tone of streaming music

Paul 195

> Streaming is a young person's game.

> The over 50s have no interest.

Speak for yourself. I still have a very good quality vinyl system, which is enjoyable to listen to in ways digital isn't, but I wouldn't claim it is more accurate - just that the kind of distortion analogue delivers sounds euphonious and pleasant to the human ear. But most of the time, it's streaming all the way for me.

Paul 195

Re: Streaming? Nah!

> There is an audiophile streaming service that just streams a stream of '0' so they can bask in how low the noise is on their system

Yes, but the only track they offer is 4'33' by John Cage.

Facebook admits: Apps were given users' permission to go into their inboxes

Paul 195

> What baffles me about the current Facebook news stories is the fact that people have been so oblivious to the fact that Facebook has been offering a service but never asked for a penny in return for using it.

I dunno. People probably thought something along the lines of "ITV, ABC, C4 etc have run huge TV organisations for years by selling a few adverts, so Facebook are selling adverts, so what?"

And indeed, most people wouldn't have had a problem with that, or even with some targeting based on their profiles. What people are belatedly angry about is that their data was treated in such cavalier fashion and handed over to more or less anyone who asked for it.

GDPR can't come soon enough; a fine of 4% of global revenue for such wilful GDPR breaches would be enough to make even Facebook reconsider the way it does things. It's a shame that the UK will be leaving such protections behind in a year's time.

Facebook can’t count, says Cambridge Analytica

Paul 195

' “Cambridge Analytica licensed data for no more than 30 million people from GSR, as is clearly stated in our contract with the research company. We did not receive more data than this.”

The statement also says: “We did not use any GSR data in the work we did in the 2016 US presidential election." '

Does anyone believe a word CA says after they explained nicely to the Channel 4 reporter on camera the depths to which they would sink to help a client win an election?

Furious gunwoman opens fire at YouTube HQ, three people shot

Paul 195

Re: Of all places

Carrying a knife in a public place without a lawful reason is already outlawed in the UK. "I'm carrying it to defend myself" is not considered a lawful reason. It is an offence to sell a knife to anyone under 18. There are also plans to restrict the availability of corrosive substances like acids to make it harder to use it for criminal purposes - in much the same way that sale of poisons has been regulated since, I believe, Victorian times.

And before anyone says "Cars kill and injure loads of people....", yes they do, but every vehicle is licensed and registered to its owner. Making motor vehicles more tightly controlled even in the US, than, errr, guns.

UK.gov: We're not regulating driverless vehicles until others do

Paul 195

@Doctor syntax

On that basis, we wouldn't allow anyone to store thousands of gallons of petrol in busy urban centres either.

That's even nastier stuff when it goes up.

Cambridge Analytica 'privatised colonising operation', not a 'legitimate business', says whistleblower

Paul 195

Re: The BBC

> Persuading people of a political view is not "cheating" its "winning."

> Persuading people of a political view does not invalidate an election.

There are ways of persuading that are not cheating under our rules, and there are ways of persuading that are. If it turns out that the different Leave campaigns were co-ordinating their activity, and had a joint spend over the limits set by the electoral commission, that is not only cheating, it is also against the law. If this turns out to be the case, there is a very strong argument that the referendum result is not valid and should be set aside. Then whatever the illiberal elite of the Daily Mail, Express and Telegraph claim, the result cannot be said to be the "will of the people", because the people were not involved in a fair contest.

Uber's disturbing fatal self-driving car crash, a new common sense challenge for AI, and Facebook's evil algorithms

Paul 195

> There is no way I'm going to give up the right to drive, even if it means ripping out or disabling any AV tech supplied by our overlords.....

Big talk for someone who posted as "anonymous coward"


Paul 195

> Uber may not have broken the law, but they certainly have not performed due diligence for operating prototype vehicles with prototype control systems in public areas.

It's Uber. If they haven't broken the law, or at least ignored some regulations, it will probably be a first.

Paul 195

Re: Why didn't the woman see an approaching car, which was traveling <40 mph with headlights on

She might have assumed that if she could see the car, the driver could see her, and would slow down while she crossed the road. Or maybe she wasn't attentive and didn't see the car. It's a very reasonable principle of road use that the entity in control of 1.5 tonnes of metal moving at speed has to be more attentive to their surroundings than the 70Kg meat bag moving at walking pace.

Paul 195

Re: You've missed the scariest parts


Human beings are a bit crap as drivers. But the best information I could find suggests that they manage to drive about 10 times as far before having an accident as driverless vehicles. And that's across all weather and traffic condtions. Autonomous vehicles aren't yet (as far as I know) trying to cope with a rain and poorv visibility during the London rush hour. Autonomous vehicles are very safe as long as condtions are like the ones they've trained on. And they don't encounter something different they haven't seen before. Under those circumstances, humans still wipe the floor with them. Even when listening to The Archers.

Paul 195

Re: LiDAR doesn't work in the dark? WTF?

> No way would a human behind the wheel have changed the outcome.

I strongly disagree. Even in the low-res video you can clearly see "something" before the cyclist comes into view, but there's no indication that the vehicle starts to slow even at that point. Here in Berkshire, we have many suicide cyclists who ride around in the dark, dressed in black with no lights. One night driving down an unlit road, I could see ?fireflies? twinkling in the distance. I worked out that they were the reflectors on a pair of pedals going up and down and was able to slow down enough to avoid the cyclist *before* I ran him over.

AI is not intelligent because it still only understands what it's seen before, and doesn't yet appear able to put together a hypothesis like the one that enabled me not to kill a cycilst. Personally, given that self-driving cars still can't cope in the relatively benign environments they are being trained in, I think we are decades away from genuinely autonomous vehicles.

That long-awaited Mark Zuckerberg response: Everything's fine! Mostly fixed! Facebook's great! All good in the hoodie!

Paul 195

Re: I have nothing to hide

I wish I could give you more than one upvote. I'm really tired of the stupidity of people who say "they have nothing to hide". Even if you don't have anything to hide, it's nobody else's business unless you want it to be.

Paul 195

Re: Facebook is Angry

That's not fair, it makes them sound greedy. They knew all about the exfiltration of friends' data for a long time before they decided to close that particular door.

No, they're angry because they've been caught red-handed, and because they couldn't bully the people carrying the story into silence.

Fermi famously asked: 'Where is everybody?' Probably dead, says renewed Drake equation

Paul 195

Re: Not useful

I think it's fair to say that if we lived like the Amish, Reg readers would be employed doing something different to whatever it is they do now. Unemployment is unlikely to be a thing if you have to grow all your food and manufacture all your goods using 17th century technology.

A smartphone recession is coming and animated poo emojis can't stop it

Paul 195

Hey - how about dropping the obsession with ever thinner phones and producing ones that have:

user changeable battery

wireless charging


... and a 3.5 mm headphone socket

I'd buy one of those.


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