* Posts by T. F. M. Reader

675 posts • joined 19 Dec 2012

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£10k offer to leave firm ASAP is not blackmail, Capita told by judge

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Re: Not Blackmail?

The whole "blackmail" thing seems to me somehow related to a unionized environment with tribunals, etc. I have no union experience at all, so I can't judge how "cruel and unusual" it may seem.

In the union-free "at will" employment contracts I see (including my own) the normal stipulations include a "termination notice" followed by a "notice period" during which the employee is required to work as usual, including possibly transferring knowledge and/or training a replacement, while getting the salary and all the benefits. In addition, at the sole discretion of the employer, the employee may get everything he/she is owed for the "notice period" and be asked to never come to the office again. I don't think anyone sees this as "blackmail" or "discrimination" or "offense". In general, it is understood by everyone that an employee who has just been made redundant will have no motivation for working hard through the notice period, and this will not be good for staff who have kept their jobs, either.

Surface Book 2 afflicted by mystery Blue Screen Of Death errors

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Re: *FACEPALM*

Microsoft is really starting to look ridiculous.

Has never prevented anyone from becoming the world's most valuable company, has it?

(MSFT topped AAPL by market cap as of Friday Nov 30 close. I don't even know how to react to that.)

STIBP, collaborate and listen: Linus floats Linux kernel that 'fixes' Intel CPUs' Spectre slowdown

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Business-appropriate vocabulary

I distinctly remember an earlier attempt to make the kernel comments business-appropriate, some 18-20 years ago maybe, but I can't be... eh... hugged... to look up a reference.

What the hug, I just grepped the kernel code. That earlier attempt was probably just a proposal.

Millennials 'horrify' their neighbours with knob-shaped lights display

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Re: Is it a penis or....

@Voina i Mor: Pedantry alert - I suspect you are mixing mythologies. One ancient god associated with semen, water, and fertility is the Sumerian Enki. You don't need to be familiar with Sumerian myths if you share reading preferences with other commentards here: I am pretty certain Enki was featured in some book by Neal Stephenson. Could it be a subliminal inspiration for your post? ;-)

I can speculate how the connection with the Old Testament God may have come about. It seems that Enki had an alternative moniker of Elil, which sounds Hebrew enough. However, it's a red herring: the word El means "god", while Elil stands for "idol" (including physical artifacts), has pejorative connotations appropriate for pagan deities (no intent here to offend anyone!), and cannot possibly be used in connection to the One True Old Testament G-d whose name cannot be written in full.

Not mentioning G-d and not using any images are manifestations of the same idea that has no anatomical roots but signifies the utmost respect and adoration. So euphemisms are used throughout. The word typically represented as Yahweh is an abbreviation (think G-d - I used it intentionally here to make the connection), Adonai means "My Lord", Elohim is a generic word for G-d (and Adonai Eloheinu, used in prayers, stands for "Lord Our G-d"). These are not "three ancient gods of the Bible" but different ways to refer to the same supernatural entity.

By the way, grammatically the Elohim of the Bible can hardly have a penis - the word itself (as well as Adonai) is not masculine but plural. Grammatically, plural is sometimes used for amorphous, uncountable, omnipresent, all-permeating substances or notions. Water (maim) and life (chaim) are other examples, allowing me to close the circuit... ;-)

Facebook spooked after MPs seize documents for privacy breach probe

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Contempt?

So is this Ted Kramer guy now in contempt of the US court that sealed the documents? I seriously doubt the fact that he had to comply with the UK laws is a valid defence. After all, he didn't have to take the docs on an overseas trip with him. If he needed to work on them he could have accessed them remotely.

Which begs the question: would the UK authorities apply the law that mandates disclosure of (VPN) credentials to him?

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Re: Why?

@Captain Scarlet: You disable all javascripts so they can't spy on you from their Facebook Like buttons plastered on other sites?

Yes... And you don't?

Office 365 Exchange enjoys a less than manic Monday. Users? Not so much

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Monday really isn't their thing.

Tell me about it. We work with every kind of private, public, and hybrid "clouds" because our customers do. We have a rule: never schedule any demos related to Azure, not even internal ones or training, on Mondays.

It looks like MSFT roll out patches/features over weekend, and if they don't screw something up royally then you can count on them changing interfaces, controls, APIs, what not.

Hence the rule: schedule Azure demos for Wednesdays. Test on Monday, fix or work around whatever they broke over the weekend, test again on Tuesday.

Big data at sea: How the Royal Navy charts the world's oceans

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Joke

"254 separate sonar beams"

I bet there were two more they couldn't tell you about, eh?

Behold, the world's most popular programming language – and it is...wait, er, YAML?!?

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No and yes [Was: HTML-only calculator?]

@Glen 1: YAML is just a way of representing markup in a way that you don't have to worry about matching closing brackets/braces.

But you do have to worry about whitespace, right? That's progress all right.

[Aside: before anyone says editors support proper indentation so whitespace is easy - editors also highlight unmatched brackets/braces/parentheses.]

NB: this is not to knock YAML at all (see below). But relying on whitespace instead of visible grouping symbols is not a core advantage.

And now to the positive part. To this old-timer programs and data are one and the same, configuration is data and thus an integral part of the program, and just about any project will use a number of languages and tools, each used where it's best fit for the purpose. With this mindset I am perfectly willing to consider YAML and JSON and their ilk "programming languages" that are used for describing data in arguably better ways (for readability, serialization, portability, etc.) than what is available in "real" programming languages that are in turn much better suited for describing procedures and algorithms. It looks perfectly natural to me to describe data in JSON and algorithms in python. Or whatever.

YAML, JSON, python, C, bash, and F# are all tools of the trade, and if a SW engineer writes N lines of python and M>>N lines of YAML (feel free to count files rather than lines, or whatever measure you deem most appropriate) as a part of his project then he does more YAML than python, and that's perfectly fine with me.

A possibly enlightening example is Google's protobuf that is also a portable serializaton format, can easily be used for configuration, looks a bit similar to JSON (at a stretch), and is compiled into "real" data structures - classes with methods and everything else - in a multitude of programming languages that you can look at as (quite human-readable, albeit less so than the original protobuf) code in your favourite programming language. Once you look at how it works you may be more open to the idea that writing such stuff is programming.

Microsoft confirms: We fixed Azure by turning it off and on again. PS: Office 362 is still borked

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"Passwords also cannot be reset by users."

I imagine there is a fair number of people who's reaction to this was "Oooh, time to hack!"

Linux kernel Spectre V2 defense fingered for massively slowing down unlucky apps on Intel Hyper-Thread CPUs

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Hyper-threading itself may be bad for performance.

Ever since hyper-threading was introduced it's been pointed out that it may be bad for performance for many (most?) workloads because the two hardware threads would be fighting each other for the (single) cache. The usual advice (and not from OpenBSD) was: switch it off unless you really know what you are doing and you've benchmarked your particular workload.

Now, if you want additional protection from the Spectre haunting your CPU, you will make you computer slower still.

Just switch hyper-threading off. Make all the SW patches useful only when it's on optional.

Sorry, Mr Zuckerberg isn't in London that day. Or that one. Nope. I'd give up if I were you

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"Zuck had ordered his team to use Android phones"

Hey, Mark, how about banning iThingies from Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, seeing who blinks first?

[Disclaimer: no iStuff, no FB account, no popcorn, will follow on El Reg, otherwise don't care.]

Hands up who isn't p!*$ed off about Amazon's new HQ in New York and Virginia?

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A billion here, a billion there...

"Amazon is a billion-dollar company," [Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-14th district)] tweeted...

Our American friends could be more careful with whom they elect to various posts.

I understand Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is of Puerto-Rican descent, and in Puerto Rico they may use the "long scale" (10^9 = millardo or mil millones, 10^12 = billón) on occasion, but not, AFAIK, for economics or finance. However, she was born in the US, and her audience is American, and AMZN is a trillion-dollar company (well, it briefly was just a short while ago and is not far away now) on the American "short scale" (10^9 = billion, 10^12 = trillion).

So, either the newly elected Representative doesn't know how big AMZN really is or she is at risk of being confused by budget numbers. Either option would look worrisome to me if I were American.

Dutch cops hope to cuff 'hundreds' of suspects after snatching server, snooping on 250,000+ encrypted chat texts

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"End-to-end encryption" isn't?

So, not only were the comms not encrypted end-to-end, as is often claimed, but, if I understand correctly, there was no way to securely exchange encryption keys, e.g., at a personal meeting between Alice and Bob, to prevent MITM.

I have a distinct impression that the vaunted "end-to-end encryption" of WhatsApp, Telegram, etc., suffers from the same kind of flaw.

Macs to Linux fans: Stop right there, Penguinista scum, that's not macOS. Go on, git outta here

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Re: Why Linux on Apple Hardware?

@AC: you may be able to get other laptops witout Windows pre-installed, but they are not common.

Seems common enough to me... My personal laptop is a high end Lenovo Thinkpad that came with FreeDOS. At work everybody who writes code gets Dells with Ubuntu (official option from Dell). I just got a Dell OptiPlex (desktop) that was listed as "without OS" but came with Ubuntu. I figured "without OS" meant "without OS to pay for".

This has been normal for many years now. I don't think I ever bought a computer with Windows preinstalled since about 1996, but I agree it was not common 20 years ago.

[I am weird. I wipe Ubuntu and install Red Hat or Fedora KDE spins - need to do weird tweaks in the BIOS setup to boot from DVD/USB (Dell don't make that easy), but otherwise no problem with EFI.]

Shift-work: Keyboards heaped in a field push North Yorks council's fly-tipping buttons

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Pint

"I’m sure there’s a Fn + key combination that will help"

Well, the Council is asking the public for F1...

The Vulture hacks had to Pause and Home in on it to Insert this into the article, but they didn't...

A pint for the fun story, in any case.

SQLite creator crucified after code of conduct warns devs to love God, and not kill, commit adultery, steal, curse...

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Joke

Re: I have a code of conduct

@Chris King: I think along the lines of "Use common sense and don't be a dick towards other people", but these days Equality & Diversity seems to need a manual and a mandatory training course before it is taken seriously.

And you'd fail the training course for you've used the word "dick" which is both offensive and sexist. Where is your common sense?

Stealthy UK startup drops veil on next frontier of speech wizardry

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Re: The Cloud?

@DCFusor: It's long been known in the speech recog biz that working for one person (or a few known ones) is a metric ton easier than "all ya'll out there".

But then, as a consumer, that's all I am interested in - recognize what one person (me) or a few (members of the household) are saying, after a bit of training. Give speech-to-text to me on a pocket-size device in flight mode (to ensure nothing I say goes to "the cloud"), and I may consider spending some pounds on the app if I find a compelling enough use case. I'd consider "no cloud" an essential requirement.

F***=off, Google tells its staff: Any mention of nookie now banned from internal files, URLs

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Just curious...

Do they pipe all those short URLs through a CLI version of Google Translate before grepping?

Just in case?

Come to think of it, I'd also collect (anonymized) statistics of deletions and put them in the Diversity Report.

Facebook mass hack last month was so totally overblown – only 30 million people affected

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Appropriate choice of words

"People's privacy and security is incredibly important..."

Right. I don't believe it.

US may have by far the world's biggest military budget but it's not showing in security

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oftenness... regularity...

The hanging sentence in the article itself contains the word "frequency". I am guessing the original context was exactly what the OP meant.

Chinese Super Micro 'spy chip' story gets even more strange as everyone doubles down

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Semiconductors, doping, electrons, and holes

While one may argue that adding a small chip to a motherboard is feasible, that it will only need to inject some extra/modified code into the loaded kernel at boot, will need only a small amount of power at that point, will be passive/dormant the rest of the time, and the actual spying will be done by the injected code in main memory, etc., what I could not understand from the start is how the gathered information (that may be very damaging indeed) will be sent stealthily to the mothership. Even less so, how it will be done from a data centre server that isn't even supposed to ever make outbound connections to the rest of the world.

Outbound traffic is routinely monitored, and a server trying to reach a machine outside of the organization will be detected fairly quickly by a serious player such as AMZN or AAPL. AAPL say as much in their letter to Congress.

I didn't see any statements anywhere that said, e.g., that any of the affected servers were involved in serving external requests. Even if they did, it would, IMHO, take too many miracles to arrange for useful and undetectable "steganography" in the responses. Besides, a machine service external requests is not likely to have the information that would justify such a complex hack.

Supply chain malware is nothing new and has been seen in the wild and it is usually its activity - either lateral movement or "phoning home" or both - that gives the game away.

IMHO, this is the most glaring hole in the Bloomberg story.

LinkedIn has a Glint in its eye and cash burning a hole in its pocket

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Re: You are the product

@AC: "How on earth are they making that sort of money of the sh*t platform that linkedin has become?"

I can only assume that those "premium accounts" that HR droids use are fairly expensive, and that there are enough HR/marketing/sales/whatever users who pay for them.

Disclaimer: no LinkedIn account here, premium or regular, so I woudn't know how sh*t they are.

Which? That smart home camera? The one with the vulns? Really?

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Joke

Which? may still be right

The product may still be the best in category, and the huge security hole(s) may still be "minor" compared to the competition, for all I know.

On the third day of Windows Microsoft gave to me: A file-munching run of DELTREE

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Re: Welcome to....

@JohnFen: These days neither developers nor QA have much say in the release process - it is all decided by Product Management / Sales / Other Management. Who often think in terms of "Will it install without major headaches in a PoC environment by our qualified personnel who know where not to trod? Yes? Good enough..." Subsequent headaches bypass Product/Sales, VP R&D has his anatomy covered in front of CEO/board because Product signed off on the release, and the engineers are left to deal with the fallout...

We seem to be of a reasonably similar age...

New Zealand border cops warn travelers that without handing over electronic passwords 'You shall not pass!'

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The only news here is the 'NZ' part... Maybe...

I was almost ready to be as outraged as the next commentard, but then I recalled that when I worked for a Big Blue multinational ~15 years ago there was already a company policy in place regarding this. I travelled with a company laptop with lots of sensitive material on an encrypted disk. The policy said, "If you are asked to unlock the computer on any border in the world comply without arguing or questioning - even in countries that are more than likely to be interested in our commercial secrets. Any conceivable commercial damage is preferable to the hassle of extricating an employee from a dispute with foreign authorities."

So, it looks like NZ is merely catching up, at worst, and in a mild manner, comparatively speaking. Out of curiousity, how do such laws work in jurisdictions where there is a right to withhold potentially self-incriminating information when questioned by authorities (not sure about NZ, hell, not sure about UK, either - IANAL)? Are such rights suspended on the borders?

Email security crisis... What email security crisis?

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Re: Who the fuck cares about such semantics in this day and age?

@Aladdin Sane : After years of scientific progress, not once has the answer to any mystery been "magic".

But lots and lots of times the answers were indistinguishable from magic.

Don't let Google dox me on Lumen Database, nameless man begs

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Re: Solicitors from London law firm Pinsent Masons

@Just Enough: we are supposed to draw some insight from the fact the guy was wearing "mismatched jacket and trousers"

Maybe just that the guy knows what spezzato means?

Use Debian? Want Intel's latest CPU patch? Small print sparks big problem

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Oracle and Microsoft have been prohibiting benchmarks of their database software for many years...

So did VMware, as I recall - for quite a few years while the overhead of full virtualization led to inferior performance compared to native HW or paravirtualized machines. That was before Intel and AMD added HW support for virtualization (i.e. before, say, 2006). Today (with HW support) the overhead is not significant, and I believe the "no benchmark publishing" clause is no longer there (but I have not checked recently).

The industry is rather used to this. I am not very surprised that the likes of Red Hat and SuSE behave pragmatically and thus don't have a problem, or that Debian have.

Bitcoin backer sues AT&T for $240m over stolen cryptocurrency

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@aks: I am missing something. How exactly will a pay-as-you-go SIM receive an SMS sent to a number assigned to the SIM you lost? What's the point of sending a verification code to a different number?

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@DougS: you should be able to respond immediately while you in the store / on the phone with them.

Not if you've lost the SIM, which I suspect is the most common legitimate cause of a transfer request.

Self-driving cars will be safe, we're testing them in a massive AI Sim

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Re: Evidence?

@Justthefacts: "Google cars have currently driven 120million miles..."

Citation needed. I got interested and checked (took me a few minutes). Waymo (Alphabet's autonomous vehicle arm that grew out of the X Lab project) reported 5M miles driven on public roads by February 2018. This is since October 2015, which on average means 2.5M miles/yr (if we assume that in the first few months there was a ramp-up from zero then we'll just count Feb 2016 through Feb 2018, OK for order of magnitude estimates?).

As a baseline for comparison, there are more than 250M registered car in the US (mostly passenger cars) driving on average 15K miles/yr. This is 1.5 MILLION times more miles per year than the whole of "Google's fleet". There are 6.3M road-accident related claims per year involving something like 12M vehicles (the numbers are from 2015-2016 and seem to be broadly consistent with each other). So, let's take 6.3M as a proxy for the number of accidents per year, including everything from fatalities to fender-benders, regardless of whose fault it is. To claim better safety, Google/Waymo must show less than 4.2 accidents/yr.

I found out that useful stats on Waymo accidents is not easy to unearth. E.g., Waymo's own "safety report" does not have the numbers, just the details on how hard they work on it. However, it is waaay higher than 4.2/yr. The graph here (some aspects look problematic, but it was easy to found) indicates something like 600-700 crashes per 100M miles (~30 over the 5M miles actually driven - seems correct as there certainly have been a few dozen reports) rather than ~168 (per 100M miles) that would put Waymo on a par with humans on average. The graph illustrates that the only two categories of drivers who are worse than Waymo are youngsters and very elderly (something that you point out, too, but then letting youngsters drive is the only way to make them safe drivers).

This, by the way, does not take into account at all how many accidents have been avoided by mandatory humans taking control.

So, for my money any claims that Waymo (in this case - and they seem to be the best in class, far ahead of competition) are already safer than humans are not confirmed at any level beyond handwaving. Statements like "94% of accidents are due to human error" are, by the way, pure handwaving: there is no one else in today's normal car who makes complex decisions, so the number is meaningless, apart from "car components don't break down and cause accidents often".

Google shaves half a gig off Android Poundland Edition

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Count me in!

A <$100 device with a half-decent screen, phone, contacts, calendar, and maps, and maybe even a light-weight browser and an email client, and without all the storage-hogging stupid apps, from FB to Drive to Office to whatever, that I never use but can't remove without rooting / voiding warrantly / etc.?

Hell, I'll pay cash! A camera is nice to have, but not mandatory.

Snap code snatched, Pentagon bans bands, pacemakers cracked, etc

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How many clones?

So have GitHub shared any stats regarding how many times the repo with Snapchat's code had been cloned before it was taken down via DMCA?

Facebook insists it has 'no plans' to exploit your personal banking info for ads – just as we have 'no plans' to trust it

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Re: No wiggleroom to be given

Worse than that. I can easily see a future when it will be (next to[*]) impossible to get any customer service except via Messenger, which will require a FB account, which, even if FB really do not get or store or use any of one's financial data (yeah, right...) will by itself be good for FB's "monthly active users" stats, hence share price, etc., etc.

Even if only a fraction of customer-rep interaction is delegated to chatbots banks are hoping to make a saving by reducing headcount, too.

Result: Zuck and other FB shareholders becomes richer, banks cut costs, service becomes worse...

And all that comes before storing, analyzing, and using the financial data for ads, or at least bragging about your unproven ability to increase efficacy of targeted ads with all that additional info, and before the info is sold to 3rd parties for all sorts of purposes.

Oh, and what about "shadow profiles"? How certain are we that banks will not provide FB access to our financial details and transactions without even checking if we have FB accounts in the first place? Frankly, I am scared.

[*] The "next to" qualification is included only because there may be a regulatory regime that mandates multiple customer service channels. I do not expect such a regime to specify availability, maximal response times, or any QoS/SLA whatsoever.

Bank on it: It's either legal to port-scan someone without consent or it's not, fumes researcher

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Re: "the scanning is done with Javascript running locally"

NoScript to the rescue

Take it half a step further: the login page may not work without JS, but it is probably irrelevant for non-customers.

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Re: iptables -j TARPIT

it would disable the machine doing the port scanning...

...which is your machine, and behind iptables, innit?

Spectre/Meltdown fixes in HPC: Want the bad news or the bad news? It's slower, say boffins

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Massively parallel workloads?

Have they tested massively parallel workloads, such as partial differential equations solving? This is a typical HPC problem, and it seems different from the "computationally intensive code" they analysed. Pure number-crunching does not use much I/O or system calls indeed. For parallelized derivative computation you will need to exchange information between the nodes working in parallel though - this is why low latency networks are so important in HPC systems. And that means I/O.

That does not necessarily mean system calls, especially if the information exchange is facilitated by RDMA-capable HW - the kernel may be bypassed.

Enquiring minds want to know, etc., etc. ...

FBI boss: We went to the Moon, so why can't we have crypto backdoors? – and more this week

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We can put a man on the moon...

...but we can't do it faster than the speed of light, despite all out "innovation".

[Sounds better to me than the "can't put a man on the Sun" retort: we can, in principle, send the FBI Director to the Sun. He won't survive for long, but that's a different matter.]

Clean up this hot sticky facial-recog mess for us, Microsoft begs politicos

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Confused

1. A $BIG_CORP is concerned about potential questionable uses of its face recognition tech. Fine.

2. The $BIG_CORP urges the legislators of its home country to regulate things like whether or not the $BIG_CORP should ask their users for permission to use the tech on the user's devices. Huh? If that's what makes your peace and quite, why don't you just start asking your users before/without any regulation? And as for 3rd party, e.g., government use of your tech they license or buy, first, things that you are concerned about are already illegal, and secondly, feel free to put restrictions into contracts/licenses. Oh, you are concerned that your competitors will not be as scrupulous or conscientious? How much is your conscience worth to you then?

3. Whether or not regulation is passed, the same $BIG_CORP will undoubtedly hide the users' automatic consent somewhere on page 739 of legalese of the T&C that users will be deemed to have agreed to by reading the text clicking on the link or checking a box, and the opt-out process will be phenomenally convoluted and impractical.

Dear MSFT, by now you are a grown-up, you don't need your parents' government's help to do stuff.

Brown pants moment for BlueJeans: Dozens of AV tools scream its vid chat code is malware

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Trust, not security

This only highlights the fact that the whole sham of "signing" has nothing to do with security, but only with an "Ah, don't worry, this rascal of a program comes from a good family (that we don't know at all, they have actually just moved into town)" certificate. Those AV tools look for the cert and that's their only decision point.

Some time ago we got a Windows executable signed to avoid exactly this kind of problem. The only check that was ever done was running the executable with a specific configuration file that we provided, if that. Certainly no one checked whether a different set of configuration parameters launches ICBMs or whatever. Basically, no one except us, the vendor, is any wiser about what it does after signing (it's benign, I assure you, it's actually a part of a security product, and our customers trust us, anyway). But it's signed, so there.

As far as the gender pay gap in Britain goes, IBM could do much worse

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sample size, outliers, biases

Getting that headcount down is sure to shrink the gap, right? Right?

Eh... no. Not the way you phrase it, at least. Not if you just push headcount down at random. If you do it may go either way. The sample gets smaller, and the probability of getting an outlier result, in this case a pay gap much higher or much lower than the average, gets higher. So while after a drastic RIF the chances to get a pay gap very different from the average become better, the outcome will not necessarily be in the desired direction.

If you orchestrate the layoffs with a gap reduction in mind or, for instance, if you tend to fire quite a few senior (overpaid, or experienced, or valuable, or expensive for any other reason) males that contribute significantly to the pre-layoff pay gap then your RIF may well result in a lower gender pay gap.

Specifically, one of the common arguments about the gender pay gap is that women tend to be, on average, less experienced, less senior, less promoted than men because of they time they take off for maternity / child care. If senior / experienced people are laid off with a higher probability - because they are more expensive and firing them will result in bigger savings - then that would tend to reduce pay gap as a side effect.

[Disclaimer: this is quite independent of any discussion of whether not correcting for this natural disadvantage is fair or unfair. That is a different question altogether.]

CIMON says: Say hello to your new AI pal-bot, space station 'nauts

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That one letter shift AGAIN???

AI for spacecraft? Made by IBM? HAL, is that you?

Automated payment machines do NOT work the same all over the world – as I found out

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A leading zero? Wow! Never thought of that.

I visit Italy often and I speak the language, but I do not live there. Nor have I got an Italian credit card. As for Italian petrol stations, I can confirm that normally you fill up, go into the store, and pay at the till. Unless...

One very late night some years ago I was driving along a strada statale with an Italian friend of mine as a passenger, and I was low on petrol. The next distributore ("petrol station" in inglese) down the road was dark and deserted, but I figured I would manage to swipe my card and fill up. The machine asked for a PIN which I dutifully punched in only to see that there was a 5th position and a cursor blinking. Pressing "OK" (or "Continue" or whatever the green button said) didn't work, and I could not find any way to make the machine accept my woefully inadequate 4-digit PIN. Exasperated, I turned to my friend and asked, "Do you really have 5-digit PIN codes for you credit cards?" With a confused look on her face, the widely traveled university professor responded, "I wouldn't know. I haven't got a credit card."

The solution was to feed the machine some cash, of course. Trying to prepend the PIN with a zero never occurred to me.

Thank you for the useful tip for my future trips. I won't Forget It.

Potato, potato. Toma6to, I'm going to kill you... How a typo can turn an AI translator against us

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Re: Nothing new here

@Ian Emery: I found that out years and years ago; multiple online translation programs converted English "bread and water" in to Russian "bad food".

Actually, that is likely to be an artefact of an idiom rather than an adversarial typo: for a Russian "to sit/live on bread and water" means to be constantly hungry, either due to extreme poverty or due to some illness or another reason that does not permit one to eat normal food. The translation apparently preferred the idiom (and bungled it a bit) to the literal meaning.

In huge privacy win, US Supreme Court rules warrant needed to slurp folks' location data

T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

"near perfect surveillance"

So why not outlaw keeping the data (and metadata) that provide "near perfect surveillance" capabilities for any length of time beyond providing the requested service? Or even collecting such data except in cases where the service (to the end user!) where the service cannot be provided without it? Motivation: no one in a free, democratic society should have "near perfect surveillance" capabilities, neither corporations nor the police. The potential for abuse outweighs any possible usefulness by orders of magnitude.

Then the question whether such data can be retrieved from a third party without a warrant will not even arise...

Yes, I realize this suggestion is for the legislative branch to consider, not for the courts.

No, I will not regard any "think of the terrorists" arguments as valid. Such arguments are not fundamentally distinct from the case in question where a string of violent crimes (robberies) was committed. A bit of help proving the criminals', even terrorists' (who are not even a very big problem, statistically speaking), whereabouts after they have been caught is not a justification for keeping everyone under "near perfect surveillance". Real time surveillance (while the service is being provided), needed for the "ticking bomb" situation, is covered.

A pretty and helpful user interface? Nahhh. Is that really you, Samsung?

T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

Re: Killer feature maybe

Flipping several settings / Bluetooth on, open maps, turn off Wi-Fi, turn on GPS, turn on selective call blocking every time I get in the car is a pain.

Nokia's old "dumb" phones of 15+ years ago did not have all the goodies that a modern Samsung has, but they had this amazing thing called (IIRC) "profiles". You could change multiple settings on your phone by switching between custom "profiles", which was one operation. I used to have a "meeting" profile (the phone was silent/on vibration, among other things), "car" profile ( screen lock off, voice operation, etc.), and so on. Seems to be a lost art now, just like the integrated calendar and contact list that I miss so much (set a meeting with someone in your contact list by actually accessing the contact list from the calendar, when the reminder beeps and you are still stuck in traffic there is a friendly green button that dials the right number so you can apologize for being late without fiddling with the contact list while driving - worked amazingly well in the previous millennium...)

I would love to see profiles. It would make my phone so much "smarter". The next best thing would be to react to being connected to my car's Bluetooth (as opposed to any other Bluetooth) to reconfigure just about everyhting.

What's all the C Plus Fuss? Bjarne Stroustrup warns of dangerous future plans for his C++

T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

What's with the reference to Denmark (here and in the main article)? Vasa is/was a Swedish shp.

Stroustroup is Danish.

(This is not intended as support for stings against Danes, in either articles or comments.)

Korean cryptocoin exchange $30m lighter after hacking attack

T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

Re: Welcome

>> To the wild west.2.0

> East, technically.

Well, technically also West of the (previous) California Gold Rush...

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