* Posts by T. F. M. Reader

568 posts • joined 19 Dec 2012

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Today in bullsh*t AI PR: Computers learn to read as well as humans (no)

T. F. M. Reader

Did that without computers once

Many years ago I had to sit for an examination in a language that I did not know, using a different alphabet (so no common erudition based on, say, Latin roots was aplicable). At that time I knew the alphabet and maybe 20-30 words (unsure of spelling in some cases). The exam was supposed to determine my level for further studies.

The written exam consisted of a text one was supposed to read and some questions one was suposed to answer (just like SQuAD, judging by the description in the article). I could not read the text (I managed to read the title, and I recognized a few simple words). I could not understand the question, either. However, for each question I was perfectly capable of finding the corresponding sentence in the text and copying it for the answer.

Result: perfect score. Without any reading comprehension at all.

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Causes of software development woes

T. F. M. Reader

@fandom: "What makes you think that architects aren't treated like that?"

Most peoplemanagers have an intuitive idea of the difficulties and limitation inherent in building houses, bridges, railroads, etc., even though they have never worked in the construction industry. They realize that a) laws of Nature pose some limitations on what is feasible, and b) once something has been built changing it will be very difficult and costly and disruptive. They may not have a detailed understanding of the issues inherent in building a 100-storey skyscraper, but they intuitively feel that a 2000-storey building may not be a feasible task for a 10-man crew. It is probably the same kind of intuition that made them decent football players in the 6th grade despite lousy marks in Newtonian mechanics.

Thus, your typical laypersonmanager will not tell an architect "I said I needed a house for a family of four, but actually the house may or may not be converted to a major hotel 6 months or less after construction is completed" or "the bridge must be 10 miles long, it should only have support on the right bank, none in the middle, and the left bank end must not touch the ground at all" or "don't worry about water and sewage pipes at this time, we can add them after the building is built and populated, let's see first if more than a few tenants ask for them".

However, if anyone tells me he has never encountered very similar statements relating to software requirements I will assume that he is very new to the business.

0
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That was fast... unlike old iPhones: Apple sued for slowing down mobes

T. F. M. Reader

Re: That probably explains..

removable back, which as I recall would regularly break on most phone models leading to your battery ending up on the floor.

Yes, until about 10 months ago I had a phone with a replaceable battery under a flimsy-looking thin plastic back. The phone fell quite a few times, the plastic, and sometimes the battery, separated from the rest of the phone and ended up on the floor, but never broke. Putting the battery and the plastic back into their proper places resulted in perfectly working phone in 100% of the cases.

replacement service (which only takes an hour in store)

You don't value an hour of your time very highly, do you? The advantage of that flimsy easily separable plastic back was that walking into any odd mobile phone shop wherever you happen to be in the street, swapping the battery, paying (only for the battery, no labour) by cash or card, and walking out of the shop with a perfectly working phone took all of a couple of minutes. That's as opposed to a special trip to a lab or service center + "1 hour" + paying for the technician doing his job.

1
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No hack needed: Anonymisation beaten with a dash of SQL

T. F. M. Reader

@AC: Here's a better idea, before you release it pass it through trusted university researchers so they can show you it can't be truly anonymous then don't release it.

This may be a better idea, but it is still not good enough: "trusted university researchers" can only show they cannot re-identify the data, not that it can't be done.

And that's before we ask, "trusted" by whom?

14
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Facebook confesses: Facebook is bad for you

T. F. M. Reader

If you want to feel better...

... share more information with us, post more, etc.

It is not an admission of guilt, it is a not so subtle nudge in the direction of more profit.

Or at least that's what I concluded after reading the original post by FB researchers. Cynical, moi?

3
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Oi, force Microsoft to cough up emails on Irish servers to the Feds, US states urge Supremes

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Yeah, but common sense, too...

@veti: "The trouble is that the data in question is protected by Irish and EU law."

Not only that, but, as far as I understand, MSFT specifically and intentionally segregate data storage by geography, at least partly to comply with the various data protection laws, and that is written into the TOS. It is not, "Oh, yes, we could download the stuff from our Redmond office... Oh, sh!te, we didn't think of the legal aspects..." It was made legally inaccessible from other jurisdictions by design and with a lot of forethought.

There was another case involving Google that was covered by El Reg, and there the judge decided that it was different from the MSFT case because there was no geographical separation by design. It made sense to me at the time.

5
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Auto auto fleets to dodge British potholes in future

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Why?

@Mark 85: Usually around the driving routes of those who have power and influence.

And herein lies an important enhancement of the product: It should be installed only on the vehicles of those who have power and influence. This is essential to reach the goal that a large percentage of reported potholes should be fixed within a specified period of time. Without this enhancement the proposed feature will not be effective.

0
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Kaspersky dragged into US govt's trashcan as weaponized blockchain agile devops mulled

T. F. M. Reader

@AC: I didn't think you needed anti-virus on Linux?

As one fairly common use case, assume you run a Linux mail server - wouldn't you want to scan mail for viruses that may reach Windows client machines in your organization?

5
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Mailsploit: It's 2017, and you can spoof the 'from' in email to fool filters

T. F. M. Reader

Re: I dunno

@Alister: "...third party companies handling mail on someone else's behalf; a very common thing in business nowadays."

It's been a very common thing in business since forever. The original use case was not about companies though - it was about a secretary or PA handling mail on behalf of her (ues, normally her) boss. That's also why there is a From and a Sender and a Reply-To.

4
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Russia threatens to set up its 'own internet' with China, India and pals – let's take a closer look

T. F. M. Reader

Gedankenexperiment

The article is correct in its analysis, but I'd like to offer couple of additional thoughts (that may or may not be right):

1. A mirror (i.e., the current system described in the article) is not a backup. The point of a backup may be in not syncing blindly. I can imagine a system under Russia/BRIC control that mirrors everything but those countries' TLDs and "augments" the zone file used, thus making sure that the .ru, .cn, etc. parts are under control for the users that use nameservers that sync with such a root server. The "augmentation" ("restore from backup") may be performed after a comparison.

2. The "live experiment" that Russia ostensibly did could, in principle, be conducted under complete Russian control. E.g., make sure that some (Russian, regional) subtree of nameservers pull updates not from the global root servers but from a controlled experimental system such as outlined in item 1 above. Then one could screw up the .ru part of the controlled zone file in various ways and study the consequences. The world "zone experts" interviewed by El Reg would be none the wiser, and if something went wrong the observable effects would be some disruption of service to some Russian users at worst, barring leaks from thoroughly vetter Russian personnel involved or covert James Bond activity.

The recent Putin's decree may be about moving from experimental setup of #2 to production system of #1.

Any possibility to mess with the Russians' (Chinese, etc.) internet user experience would be completely coincidental. Of course.

9
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10 years of the Kindle and the curious incident of a dog in the day-time

T. F. M. Reader

Reading taste fit for Kindle

By now I have done a bit of backtesting at least twice in order to decide whether a Kindle would be a worthwhile purchase: went over my dead tree Amazon purchases over a year or two back and checked whether there were Kindle versions that I could have bought instead. Only about 25% of the books I paid Amazon for were offered on Kindle, and for those the prices were invariably the same or just a penny or a cent (I use both amazon.com and amazon.co.uk) less than the cheapest printed edition (always new). Conclusion: I'll live without Kindle for now. Though maybe it's time to repeat the experiment again...

Yes, this probably means that my reading taste is not completely aligned with bestsellers.

5
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Sorry 'strange physics' fans, IceCube finds the Standard Model stands

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Ugh, the standard model is so boring

@Joe Werner: we _know_ it is wrong (in the long run...)

I rather suspect that what you mean is , "we will reach its applicability limits some day". I wouldn't disagree, but I wouldn't call the Standard Model "wrong" on this basis any more than I'd call Newtonian mechanics wrong because of relativity or quants.

6
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Arm Inside: Is Apple ready for the next big switch?

T. F. M. Reader

Re: bootcamp?

It's called Virtual Box.

Does it run on ARM? Even if it does, I don't see how one could run an x64 guest on an arm host with anything approaching native performance. When your host and guest architecture are the same most instructions (except privileged ones) are executed directly on HW. WIth different architectures you would have to translate. Slowly. Until MSFT port Windows to ARM, and El Reg reported in the past that they were on their way to that noble goal (though probably not because of Apple). Linux would be simpler, by the way.

However, given Apple's history, I would not put it past them to switch to ARM (partly) to prevent virtualization. Years ago, when Apple kit was still PowerPC and Intel and AMD did not have virtualization support in HW (this makes it pre-2006), I grabbed an Apple computer with an idea to install Linux and play with LPARs, etc. I discovered, to my surprise then (the surprise dissolved very quickly), that the otherwise perfectly normal PPC 970 (I think) had virtualization support disabled on Apple's demand. Once they switched to Intel whose arm [sic!] they could not twist too painfully to disable the VT-x/VT-d/friends they had just introduced, virtualization became possible. Maybe now it's time for ARM-twisting of a new kind?

0
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US authorities swallow security-free script for pill that knows when you're off your meds

T. F. M. Reader

Re: The lifecycle could get interesting..

Internet-connected loos have been the darlings of the IoT crowd for a long, long time...

1
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Munich council: To hell with Linux, we're going full Windows in 2020

T. F. M. Reader

Keep LibreOffice even if you move to MSFT [Was: MS Office? Faster?]

I used to write complex documents (detailed specifications, tables, figures, lots of cross-referencing, etc.). For the purpose of "interoperability with others" it was in Word. Change tracking, rejecting/accepting modifications, comments by others, etc.

Documents became fatter and fatter every day. Many, many megabytes. I learnt a little trick. From time to time I opened the current fatty in LibreOffice, made a tiny change (e.g., added a space somewhere or corrected a typo), and saved...

SHHHHRRRRRRIIIINNNKKK! All the extra fat is instantly gone.

I suspected at the time (but never really checked) that all the multiple changes, whether accepted or rejected, all the deleted comments, etc., etc., were made invisible but still kept by Word in the file, while LibreOffice figured out that invisible stuff was no longer needed and silently dropped it on the first save.

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Boffins: We can identify you by your typing, and we're gonna sell the tech to biz, govt – yay!

T. F. M. Reader

Did they disclose what "deep service" they really work for?

"DeepService implements a gated recurrent unit (GRU)" - oh...

Bootnote 1: "identifying individuals remains an unsolved problem in mobile computing" - that's a relief...

Bootnote 2: Swype left...

1
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Car insurers recoil in horror from paying auto autos' speeding fines

T. F. M. Reader

Critical updates

Suppose a safety-related update becomes available while my autonomous car is on level -4 in an underground parking under a high-rise building. The car will not know there is an update until it actually sees the light of day. At what point is it supposed to become immobile to apply the patch? When it is blocking the exit from the parking? When it is out in a busy city street with no empty parking space in sight? When it is doing 70mph on a carriageway?

A critical mechanical failure would immobilize a non-autonomous car, but that's a failure, not a software update, importance as the latter may be.

I'd think of warning the owner/custodian/occupant (and maybe insurer) that there is an essential update and give the responsible party a reasonable grace period to install it. Beyond that grace period, however, rules change.

It is essential that the grace period should start after the car becomes aware of the update, i.e., the car is started and there is an indicator of the dashboard, etc. Otherwise, the car may be out of range - e.g., in an underground parking garage - while the owner is on a month-long vacation abroad.

4
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Open source sets sights on killing WhatsApp and Slack

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Searching for old messages in different apps = nightmare

Ironically, my solution to this was not adding the address to the friend's entry in the contact list on my phone the first time they sent it to me. Care to elaborate why?

11
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Dumb bug of the week: Outlook staples your encrypted emails to, er, plaintext copies when sending messages

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Unlikely

I suppose mostly because there is no need to "exploit" if the plain text is helpfully sent along, eh?

Wait, this makes MSFT's statement technically correct, doesn't it?

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T. F. M. Reader

Remind me...

...why do NSA and GCHQ have such big budgets?

3
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Ex-sperm-inate! Sam the sex-droid 'heavily soiled' in randy nerd rampage

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Scott Adams is ahead of us again...

Or Isaac Asimov's 1951 "Satisfaction Guaranteed" story...

10
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Sysadmin tells user CSI-style password guessing never w– wait WTF?! It's 'PASSWORD1'!

T. F. M. Reader

Movie stuff

The story seems unfinished. Did the hero get the girl in the end?

27
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London Tube tracking trial may make commuting less miserable

T. F. M. Reader

So the study tracks...

...people who leave WiFi on while on the tube and not all the commuters. How representative is this sample? How clueful in general are those people? How attentive are they to the signage/patterns/whatever might help them shave a couple of minutes from their daily commute? Would disabling WiFi be more beneficial than investing in better signage?

NB: tracking Oyster cards means tracking regular commuters, not occasional visitors, tourists, and such, so that is also biased.

Actually, I wonder if the "WiFi-on" populations has a disproportionally large fraction of foreigners who do not have mobile data plans and are happy for any free WiFi between sights? [Not a Londoner and my WiFi is usually off, so I don't even know if you can register on the TfL WiFi with a foreign mobile number.]

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T. F. M. Reader

Re: One thing I always failed to understand....

I believe iOS does a pretty good job of MAC address randomisation when not associated, Android is generally very poor.

According to this, MAC address randomisation on iOS is "useless" while there is no such thing as "Android". Depends on the vendor, but "generally very poor" is correct, where it exists at all.

6
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NYPD head of IT doubles down on Windows smartphone idiocy

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Hold on, if I read this right

read Brook's "Mythical man-month" and see what he says about the "second-system effect"

Let's not cherry-pick famous quotes.

Among the things Brooks actually says about "second systems" is

"The management question, therefore, is not whether to build a pilot system and throw it away. You will do that. […] Hence plan to throw one away; you will, anyhow.

[Brooks's italics.]

I am fairly sure this is what was alluded to by "develop it twice".

What you have in mind is, I guess,

"The general tendency is to over-design the second system, using all the ideas and frills that were cautiously sidetracked on the first one. The result, as Ovid says, is a 'big pile.'"

This is also famous, but hardly applies to the topic at hand (it may apply to specialized NYPD app development - I don't know).

The quote that comes to my mind, however, is

"[An architect] knows he doesn’t know what he’s doing, so he does it carefully and with great restraint."

This applies, according to Brooks, to the first system. In the case of NYPD's "first system" knowledge of what one does not know was conspicuously absent while all care and restraint was, apparently, thrown to the wind because the phones were FREE.

11
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US government: We can jail you indefinitely for not decrypting your data

T. F. M. Reader

How can they know the hash value of a file unless they have access to it's decrypted content?

Maybe they did decrypt the drives and do have the unencrypted files, but

a) do not want to admit it (because top secret);

b) are afraid that without disclosure of the exact (top secret) procedure defence will accuse them of fabricating the data ("Your Honor, the prosecution claim these are the drives' contents, but they have not shown how exactly they arrived at this conclusion...");

c) think 'the old razzle dazzle' should be enough (because think of the children) to avoid disclosure of capabilities;

d) hope that 'the hashes match' will become a useful precedent on record - better than 'here are the decrypted files - look at this filth'.

49
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'Open and accessible' spambot server leaks 711 million records

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Horse bolting....

You can use bob+anythingyouwant@bob.com

Unfortunately, in my experience the vast majority of sites I needed something from badly enough to even consider registering did not allow '+' in email addresses. Who cares if it's technically legal - the sites have their own regular expressions to check against.

Yes, it may be a selection bias. Maybe the vast majority of website do allow '+', but I wouldn't consider registering with them in the first place... Point is, '+' does not really help me...

0
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NSA ramps up PR campaign to keep its mass spying powers

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Denounce them all

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

Isn't it the whole point of this "denunciation" - preventing the NSA/FBI/etc. from becoming too similar to their Russian, Chinese, Iranian counterparts and, even more importantly, preventing our societies, on both sides of the Atlantic and elsewhere, from becoming equally totalitarian?

10
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Firmware update blunder bricks hundreds of home 'smart' locks

T. F. M. Reader

Re: IoT - where the S really is for Security

@2+2=5: It can't be on the inside because the problem is the keypad doesn't work and the Airbnb tenant doesn't have a physical key.

I assume the tenants would call the owner who does have a physical key to get inside. Or even to partially dismantle the lock with a set of physical tools to get to the reset switch.

Have you ever watched a hotel employee opening a room safe left locked by a previous guest?

21
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Cardiff did Nazi that coming: Hackers slap Trump, swastikas, Sharia law on e-sign

T. F. M. Reader

A part of the UK?

I thought Wales was a big part of Wikipedia?

10
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If you love your email standards, SMTP your feet: 35 years later

T. F. M. Reader

Another RFC worth mentioning,

still surprisingly relevant but almost completely unknown by today's youth, is RFC1855.

From 1995. Ah, memories...

7
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Intel, Amazon, Twitter: Your 60-second guide to today's financial-gasm

T. F. M. Reader

Dial SEC for clarification

"Chipzilla turned in another strong second quarter FY2017"

How many second quarters are there in Intel's FY2017?

4
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Zero accidents, all of your data – what The Reg learnt at Bosch's autonomous car bash

T. F. M. Reader

Laws of automotive robotics

Anything safety-related or traffic-congestion-related or road-condition-related does not require vehicle identification beyond the vehicle type (I am a motorcycle, a family sedan, a van, an ambulance, a lorry, a double-decker bus, or an 18-wheeler). Anything that requires identification of the vehicle and/or driver and/or passenger is about surveillance, for some purpose. The purpose may be "national security", "war on terror", "law enforcement", "adjusting insurance premia", "targeted advertising", or anything in between, but whatever it is it will not benefit the driver/road user.

Obviously, different vehicles in the same area may need to be distinguished, lest someone or something mixes up 2 different lorries. This, however, can be achieved with temporary IDs that can be generated on the fly and cannot be tied to license plates, ownership, mobile phone numbers, etc.

Now, can we make "A robotic car shall not divulge its identity" one of the basic "laws of automotive robotics"?

6
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Fancy buying our aircraft carrier satnav, Raytheon asks UK

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Himself? Herself?

I may be old-fashioned, but isn't the convention to call the ships of one's nation (UK in this case) "she" and the ships of other nations "it"? "She is a beauty" about "Prince of Wales", but "It is a big and ugly chunk of metal" when talking of "Gerald Ford"? On this side of the pond, that is...

3
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Telegram chat app founder claims Feds offered backdoor bribe

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Secure Chats

What you can't hide - and what spooky agencies should be using - is the metadata. What account you spoke to. When. For how long. How large a message.

I suppose you can do something about that, too, with a provider's assistance. What if the recipient of the message you sent id encrypted between the sender and the provider with a session key, the sender of the message is encrypted between the provider and the sender with another session key, a random delay is introduced between storing and forwarding to thwart correlation analysis, messages are padded to hide the real size, and messages and keys are deleted by the provider upon delivery, with no logs kept?

That will leave MITM in real time (fake certs, etc.) as the only feasible - metadata only if the sender and the recipient exchange keys and encrypt the contents themselves - attack vector, and mass slurping of stored comms (data or metadata) will become impossible.

What also will become impossible is for the provider to monetize their customers' data and metadata, so such a service will have to be paid for. Ah...

I do not know if there is a provider that offers such a service.

1
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AWS launches celebrity-spotting-as-a-service: What a time to be alive

T. F. M. Reader

Pre-Awards???

dangerously disruptive to pre-awards-ceremony red carpet interviewers

That's nothing! How about the actual awards ceremonies? Just imagine Warren Beatty getting a sponsored-AI-assisted second chance at the next Oscars! Just to eliminate a repeat of a human error, you see...

1
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Move over, Stuxnet: Industroyer malware linked to Kiev blackouts

T. F. M. Reader

Writing comprehension or clickbait?

"Move over, Stuxnet" implies that this Industroyer is more awesome. However, "the most sophisticated [malware - TFMR] to hit industrial control systems since Stuxnet" actually means that Stuxnet is still the king. Please decide?

2
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Watch out Facebook, Google – the EU wants easy access to your data

T. F. M. Reader

Poor choice of words

"...to prohibit us from becoming the next NSA regime...

I suspect this may not be scary enough for many. I think "to prohibit us from becoming the next KGB regime" is way more appropriate. There is still a difference between the two TLAs, and not just in technological prowess, but it's a slippery slope and I think everybody should have a clear vision of the ultimate goal.

1
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8 out of 10 cats fear statistics – AI doesn't have this problem

T. F. M. Reader

2 sigma

The author states that statistics are simple and are misunderstood by many. And the same article, subtitled "Use and abuse of figures", states that a probability of 4.3% is "small" and thus the hypothetical enterprise can confidently conclude that its new product appeals to women more than to men. How unfortunate...

This is quite typical, actually: anything that can be stated with a confidence level of more than 95% - "2 sigma" in statistical parlance, meaning more than two standard deviations (of a normal distribution) from the mean - is deemed "significant".

Well, here is some really simple intuition. Let's say the hypothetical company from the article intends to make the same observation daily. How often can it expect to see a difference between men and women of more than 2 standard deviations under the "null hypothesis" that the product is equally attractive to both sexes? What do those 4.3% really mean? Well, if the stores are closed on Sundays then you would expect to see such an outcome (or an even larger difference) about once in 4 weeks (a bit more frequently, statistically speaking). If the product sells 7 days a week then it's closer to once in 3 weeks (4.3% = 1/23.26). The probability that it happened on the first day they made the count does not look so small when you phrase it like that. If you make not daily but hourly observations you will see deviations larger than 2 sigma every day.

No one in sciences regards a 2 sigma result as significant. For a confident statement one needs 5-6 sigma. If our hypothetical company make daily observations they will see a 3 sigma outlier about once a year, a 4 sigma outlier twice in a lifetime. Such outliers simply do happen by chance.

And all that depends on the unmentioned assumption that your deviations from expectation are normally distributed, which is often a good assumption for systems in equilibrium in natural sciences but not where human activity is concerned. A normal distribution falls off very sharply indeed (exponentially) so outliers are rare. Random variables related to human activity, including economics, often have wider, sometimes power-law distributions, and the chi2 p-values will significantly overestimate the confidence.

Funnily, it is in the natural sciences like physics where 2 sigma results are not considered significant. In non-scientific fields (including medicine, in my experience) 95% confidence is deemed significant almost universally and experiments and surveys are often specifically designed with 95% in mind.

Sigh...

3
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Horse named 'Cloud Computing' finds burst of speed to beat 'Classic Empire' in actual race

T. F. M. Reader

Re: pet food

The area around Solingen is still pretty big on all kinds of horse-based foodstuff

Or visit Parma. The variety of horse meat products and the number of stores selling it is quite impressive.

3
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No laptop ban on Euro flights to US... yet

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Why Israel didn't ban electronic devices on flights to Tel Aviv?

if the check-in desk person has taken dislike to you and have marked you for extra screening?

That would cause you grievance in any airport and with any airline today.

We neither have the financial resources, nor the people to crew the level of security they deploy.

I actually think that most (Western?) countries have the people who could be trained and deployed for the purpose, with adequate pay so the "right" people will apply and stay. And financial resources can be made available. This would, however, be in the way of the drive to lower the costs. There are no meals on flights nowadays, and even soft drinks are not free (hopefully water still is, most of the time), all in the name of the "bottom line". Paying for real security seems a non-starter under the circumstances.

The Israelis take security seriously, and bear the costs. I don't see why others can't, but for the lack of will.

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T. F. M. Reader

Re: "simply because El Al"

Does El Al have specific detection equipment in any airport from which planes flies to Israel, and vet anybody in those airports?

As far as I understand, they do. Everybody vets - passenger information is vetted through multiple agencies by all airlines, that's how those no-flight lists also work. But I've flown El Al and they have their own security personnel in every airport in which they operate and they start screening you before checkin (i.e., way before general airport security). They also never let your luggage out of sight between checkin and the hold. I suppose all that puts a brake on cutting costs...

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T. F. M. Reader

Re: Why Israel didn't ban electronic devices on flights to Tel Aviv?

If Israeli agencies are so worried about the risk of an exploding laptop, why didn't they ban them on flights to Israel?

Israeli security rather famously look for a bomber first, for a bomb second. Makes things scalable. Everybody else does the scalability (a.k.a. "profiling") bit, too, event as they try to pretend they don't (hint: "you have been randomly selected for additional screening" is anything but random), but there is a difference between highly educated and trained personnel with security background following well thought through procedures and techniques and minimum wage TSA drones following a "security for dummies" instruction book.

4
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Trump signs executive order on cybersecurity, White House now runs the show

T. F. M. Reader

Re: seriously? -- !

@Palpy: The US military uses hardened Red Hat ... precisely because it neither wants nor needs the systems used by a receptionist in the Dept. of Flog and Scrum running on a warship.

Uhm... Not so sure about that... Checked both links - this one is from the same source but dated later than the one you posted...

To be fair, the article mentions that 'Part of the Navy's strategy was forming a group designated the "Microsoft Eradication Team."' Chuckle... Nuke them from orbit...

4
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America 'will ban carry-on laptops on flights from UK, Europe to US'

T. F. M. Reader

I despise the security theatre...

...as much as anyone (possibly more), and I am definitely not looking for any excuses for it, but I can't help at least trying to figure out what genuine logic could possibly lead someone to introduce this rule, especially given the arguments (some stated in the article) that a bomb/fire in the luggage hold may actually be more dangerous, etc.

The only hypothesis I can come up with is as follows. Under the assumption that a laptop bomb must be small and not very powerful, and maybe with some extra esoteric knowledge of what such a bomb can and cannot do, is it possible that someone has estimated that the risk of a small explosion / potential fire in the hold is lower than the risk of structural damage caused by a similar explosion in a window seat?

Maybe someone here who knows more about it than I do can comment? If that hypothesis can be refuted then my suspicion that it is just a ploy similar to $5 bottles of water past security checks will be 100% confirmed. What ploy? I don't know. Aren't insurance companies salivating over all the premium payments they'll get when they offer coverage for checked-in electronics? Just a thought in my nasty suspicious mind...

5
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FBI boss James Comey was probing Trump's team for Russia links. You're fired, says Donald

T. F. M. Reader

Can it trigger some kind of Streisand effect?

If indeed Comey was fired to derail the Russia/election probe, is there a possibility that the investigation may actually intensify as a result? Reactance triggered, etc.?

If it happens then there may still be hope for the US of A - just as a side effect.

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Rich professionals could be replaced by AI, shrieks Gartner

T. F. M. Reader

Gartner are behind the times...

...at least where IT is concerned. Each time I call the ISP's tech support line I am pretty sure there is ELIZA on the other end, even though the stated names differ.

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A sensible Internet of Things investment house? Breed Reply looks like it

T. F. M. Reader

"wearable device to be fitted to cattle"

The only use case that fits?

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Having a monopoly on x86 chips and charging eyewatering prices really does pay off – Intel CEO

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Everything wrong with capitalism in one article

INTC issued a forecast. The market expected them to beat the forecast, and that expectation was reflected in the stock price. INTC has been rising for the past couple of weeks for sure. When the actual results were announced and the market expectations were not realized the stock price dropped.

Some people made a bet too many and lost - bought a bit too high, no one is willing to buy INTC at those prices once new information became available. Not absurd at all.

[Disclaimer: the following is from memory, from the times when I had a markets-related job. I have not tried to find historical data on the 'net today.]

As a more extreme example, back in the late 90ies INTC announced a rather significant increase in sales, etc. However, the market had expected even better performance and INTC prices had been pumped up before the announcement. As a result, something like $91B was wiped off INTC price in a day. To put the matter in perspective, at the time that number was higher than all the market capitalization of all listed American companies except 29 biggest ones[*].

[*] Anyone who finds this absurd should look at the current list of companies by market cap. The first 5 are Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, with ~$8.2T between them. Only one of those existed in any significant bulk back in the 90ies. Times change - sigh...

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UK.gov throws hissy fit after Twitter chokes off snoop firm's access

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Not to put too fine a point on it...

"Our counting systems were invented in Bablyon..."

Really? We switched to base-60 and I haven't noticed till now?

Our counting system was actually invented by Indians, i.e., in the Commonwealth for all practical purposes... A few centuries before Islam came about, actually. So perfectly consistent with values, way of life, etc.

"They can quite agree whether they should be made illegal or simply removed from the mathematics curriculum. Or whether they exist. Except 2. That one exists."

All this can be easily solved with binary numbers, actually. Just outlaw the least significant bit.

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