* Posts by T. F. M. Reader

612 posts • joined 19 Dec 2012

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

T. F. M. Reader

The bill is probably sponsored by telemarketers...

...who must have realized that the technology may be used to waste annoying callers' time and money.

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T. F. M. Reader

Will there be an exception...

...for Turing tests?

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Oz sports’ pee-samplers outed buying Cellebrite phone-crack kit

T. F. M. Reader

I thought anti-doping agencies grabbed athletes for mandatory urine samples after competition and maybe also periodically (presumably to make sure someone who uses forbidden performance-enhancing substances gets a place on the national team and hurts the country's reputation if caught). I also thought athletes could not refuse those tests if they wanted to compete. I also thought this was not law enforcement, and that performance-enhancing substances in general are not illegal unless one competes in official events.

Where does hacking phones fit in? And how can it possibly be justified? Even Down Under...

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Braking news: Tesla preps firmware fling to 'fix' Model 3's inability to stop in time

T. F. M. Reader

Re: A different problem

@Lee D - I am not entirely sure what exactly you input into the various fields of that online calculator.

I just rely on my own understanding of kinematics for order of magnitude estimates. With constant deceleration the braking distance (i.e., without taking into account the driver's reaction time that can easily be 0.7s for an alert driver, adding ~18m at 96.6km/h to the stopping distance) is

x = vt - at^2/2

where v=96.6km/h is the initial velocity and a is the deceleration that we want to compute. The deceleration time is t=v/a, which yields

a = v^2/(2x) = (96600m/3600s)^2/(2*46.3m) = 7.3 m/s^2 ~ 0.75g

for the Tesla. It is not clear to me what exactly "far worse" means in the context, but presumably other cars get closer to 1g and the corresponding 35m (115ft) that other posters assert as the best in class.

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Astronaut took camera on spacewalk, but forgot SD memory card

T. F. M. Reader

Has it been confirmed...

...that he actually forgot to put the SD in?

Or could it be that the SD was in, but cosmic rays, the freezing cold of the vacuum, the temperature gradients across the GoPro, or something else affected the contacts or the general operation of the camera resulting in the "No SD" message?

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Biometrics: Better than your mother's maiden name. Good luck changing your body if your info is stolen

T. F. M. Reader

2FA solves some problems, brings others

2FA is supposed to help with the problem that your privates will be swiped if anyone steals or guesses your password. However, it brings on bigger problems, IMHO, such as lock-outs, without any breach at all, in case something happens to your second factor/token. That problem is independent of using something insecure such as SMS.

For something work-related 2FA is probably fine in most cases. If my phone/token gets lost or borked or whatever while I am traveling, but I can call a sysadmin/security admin who knows me and recognizes my voice and resets/reconfigures the 2nd factor so that I can access what I need with a different phone (or without 2FA until I get back from the trip), the problem can be mitigated. I am not sure many organizations have protocols/procedures for that, but it is possible.

I would not use 2FA with something like GMail, however. If something happens to my phone I do not, for the life of me, understand what the process to convince Google, in a reasonable amount of time at least, that it is really me and not some impostor who wants to reset the 2nd factor might be.

2FA by SMS is stupid not only because SMS is insecure, but because it simply does not work. I travel with a different SMS/phone number and messages sent to my normal number simply won't reach me (calls will). Not a problem, unless/until I need those messages to access essential services...

I still haven't figured out how I would deal with online credit card payments - those "Verified by Visa" and similar mechanisms - while on the road. Somehow I managed to avoid that until now. I suppose I can bring the "domestic" SIM with me and swap it in temporarily and pay for the incoming SMS, so it may be doable, albeit quite inconvenient/costly.

Ironically, I assume that in a pinch I can convince the credit card company to reset the second factor on the basis of KBA over the phone. This means that the 2FA is only as secure as KBA, anyway.

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Great Scott! Bitcoin to consume half a per cent of the world's electricity by end of year

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Does not include ...

How much noise does a typical mining rig - one that would be powerful enough to contribute significantly to keeping a room warm - generate?

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Wah, encryption makes policing hard, cries UK's National Crime Agency

T. F. M. Reader

Re: @AC

So encryption could make police work harder?

Police work is hard. Unless you live in a police state.

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

T. F. M. Reader

Underestimation of the year

"myPersonality app had been collecting and sharing the personal information for as many as three million users who had installed the app" and another 346 million unsuspecting "friends", "friends of friends", and so on...

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Get over yourselves: Life in the multiverse could be commonplace

T. F. M. Reader

Re: And I always thought it was Dark 'cos we can't see it

Has any of this dark matter or dark energy ever been observed?

Yes, albeit indirectly. And yet they are, as you say, "conceits". But they are not "conceits made to make models work", they are "conceits" (if you will) to make observations of certain things consistent with physical laws that explain everything else. The "dark" part simply alludes to the fact that we have not seen this "matter" or "energy" directly, but they probably are "matter" and "energy", respectively.

I assume your question is genuine and not trolling, so I'll feed you with a primer. ;-)

The other option is to start inventing new physical laws that would be consistent with everything we observe. Such attempts have been made, too. You may want to look up, e.g., Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND). Explaining everything with a new set of physical laws just to explain one odd thing is not easy, and ost people are more willing to assume that we might not see a few things even though they actually exist.

To be concrete, consider the following. We know of only 4 forces in the Universe today. Strong and weak interactions only happen at subatomic scales and are irrelevant at macroscopic, let alone galactic, distances. Electricity is irrelevant as well because at very large scales the matter is neutral on average - any local charge fluctuations are screened from distance objects (they attract opposite charges and on average things become neutral again), and there are no electrically charged planets, stars, etc. This leaves gravity, which at large scales is the only force that determines how fast some pieces of matter move around other pieces of matter (ask NASA - they have to deal with this big chunk of matter called planet Earth all the time).

Guess what: when you look at other galaxies you find out that their outer parts move much faster (you know that in the same way a speed camera knows if you are speeding - Doppler) around the centers of the galaxies than can be explained by the visible mass in those galaxies. If the galaxies are more massive than what you see (typically by a factor of ~5 or so) then the picture would be perfectly consistent with what we know of satellites moving around our planet, the planets moving around the Sun, etc., etc. Hence, "dark matter". Your other option is something like MOND that says that things are different at the Solar system scale and on the galactic scale (effectively, gravity is not quite M/R^2 at large Rs). It has to make sure that you explain everything we know, and we have not observed any deviations from 1/R^2, so it is just as much a "conceit".

The other piece is that our expanding Universe (yes, we know that it expands, essentially from the same Doppler effect when we look at distant objects) is expanding faster and faster - this was recently confirmed by a few people who got a Nobel prize for this just a few years ago and there have been even newer measurements still, covered by El Reg a few months ago. That could be explained by a "conceit" (blame Einstein, who introduced it into the model (general relativity) equations before any observations were available, leaving it to the future generations to determine whether it is zero or not) called "dark energy" that pushes galaxies and stuff away from each other at large scales. Of course, we don't know what the source of this energy might be, and yes, this well may lead to adjustments to the so-called "Standard Model". But, as the Reg sub-headline said, don't through your physics books into the garbage just yet.

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US Congress finally emits all 3,000 Russian 'troll' Facebook ads. Let's take a look at some

T. F. M. Reader

Re: The poor English reminds me of the 419 scam.

If you don't notice it (or that's how you write and speak generally) you're probably exactly the target mark(et) for these guys.

That thought occurred to me, too, but whereas spammers are perfectly content with having a minuscule response rate someone who wants to influence a democratic election will not be.

I assume that the trolls paid FB and others only based on clicks (and maybe impressions), and they obviously didn't pay zillions to professional marketeers, so the overall expense was negligible in their grand budget scheme of things. If there is any discernible relation to the election at all then I'd say it looks like an experiment that failed miserably.

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

T. F. M. Reader

Re: There's no quality issue. It's a movement you benefit from.

...a paranoid rant... - paranoid or prescient, in the context?

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So when can you get in the first self-driving car? GM says 2019. Mobileye says 2021. Waymo says 2018 – yes, this year

T. F. M. Reader

Two features of the same system...

1. The [GM] system will only work on freeways...

2. Glance away any longer that five seconds and [... the car] will start slowing to a stop.

On a freeway? What can possibly go wrong?

Slowing to a stop may well be the right solution if the assumption is that the driver - er... occupant - is dead or incapacitated. Chances are though that, just like the Uber beta-tester, he/she is simply not paying attention.

I don't believe the LEDs and the buzzes will help avoid the slowing down. Lots of cars around me have MobilEye. In my experience, with a decent driver behind the wheel the alarms are close to a 100% false positives[*]. For certain there are hordes of dimwits around who should be jolted into some semblance of attention quite often, but people who have MobilEye tell me that the low S/N makes the mind learn to thoroughly ignore the alarms very quickly indeed. [Frankly, I have general doubts about a gadget that says, effectively, that it's OK to drive when you are tired or distracted because it'll warn you, but that's a separate issue.]

So, a car carefully slows down on a freeway every now and then. The dimwit notices and starts looking straight ahead and assume the car starts and accelerates to the allowed speed again. That particular dimwit stays alert and away from the funny cat movie on his phone for a while. All is well...

Assume the best case scenario. Nothing goes really wrong in any of these cases, ever. Say, because every other car will have ACC and ADAS and everything else and will also slow down and stop without any chance of a prang whatsoever. But can you imagine what those slowing down and stopping cars - and that will happen - will do to congestion on freeways?

[*] One of our cars is equipped with MobilEye (the car I usually drive, mercifully, isn't - it does have a fatigue detection system though which has never been activated, to my knowledge) that was thrown in for free. Sometimes I am a passenger, sometimes I drive it. The bloody thing beeps most often when there is already a tense situation and you move a bit sideways without indicating - no time, but normally everyone around sees/senses that something is amiss - and then the system that looks for lane separators beeps and distracts and alarms and disorients you when you need your concentration the most ("What else has just happened?!?! Ah, nothing..."). It also knows nothing about what the driver is actually doing so it beeps, early, when the distance to the car in front of you decreases, even if you are already braking (again, you are already tense since you've noticed the danger, the alarm only makes you think that something else is going wrong). It always gets confused if there is more than one set of lane markings (roadworks), etc.

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Google's socially awkward geeks craft socially awkward AI bot that calls people for you

T. F. M. Reader

The END of telemarketing?!?

One can only imagine what robo-callers are going to do with [Duplex].

One can only imagine what this will do to robo-callers: let them talk, indefinitely, to a mumbling AI that asks them repeatedly to go over the amazing offer in more and more detail, thus wasting their time. They will go our of business in a month once this technology becomes ubiquitous!

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T. F. M. Reader

Pretend to be a human.

[the assistant will] talk to humans on your behalf without revealing itself to be a bot

That is guaranteed to be a success provided you cannot pass the Turing test.

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Microsoft reckons devs would like an AI Clippy to help them write code

T. F. M. Reader

Some lines that caught my attention...

recommendations based on 2,000 open-source projects on GitHub

Carefully chosen for the quality of software engineering, one fervently hopes...

No user-defined code is sent to Microsoft

But all the generated/suggested code is, right? Should be enough to figure out what the developer is doing...

The system can also redirect a web application running on the host's machine so that guests can view it in their own web browser.

As opposed to sharing a screen in one of a zillion ways (including some of Microsoft's own, e.g., Skype)?

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Risky business: You'd better have a plan for tech to go wrong

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Number of outages

This is why besides the availability (in terms of the "nines" or something equivalent) risk analysis (and, hopefully, some SLAs) typically estimates MTBF (mean time between failures).

Also tolerances and margins and stuff (in terms of load, etc.). Somewhere in Feynman's account of the investigation of the Challenger disaster (this link was easier to find than anything else) there is a story where a "safety factor of 3" was interpreted not as "this thing won't be damaged at all under 3 times the maximal estimated load/temperature/whatever" but as "under nominal conditions the O-ring will burn only a 3rd of the way through".

Feynman's analysis of NASA's assessment of the overall probability of failure during a mission is also very instructive. I personally witnessed way too many times where "the requirement is that this product must not fail" (sometimes with numbers on availability, MTBF, etc.) was magically transmogrified into "it will not fail, by requirement" - there are lots of (product) managers whose standards are just like NASA's.

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T. F. M. Reader

"it fits with a 2014 Gartner assessment"

Web survey, huh?

I can't help wondering how many of the respondents provided their own numbers after painstaking analysis and postmortems of real life failures vs. how many had read that Gartner report and recalled the figures quoted therein for their type of business...

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Former Volkswagen CEO indicted over emission cheating conspiracy

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Something I have long wondered about...

Re Bosch, IIRC it was reported back then that Bosch had taken care to protect themselves in writing (at least opposite VW) noting that the specified SW tool could be used for nefarious purposes, and that all the responsibility for actually using the SW in production lied with the customer (VW). Or some such, IANAL.

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T. F. M. Reader

Re: Ah wire fraud

Yes, I started wondering about this, too, as I was reading the article. Out of 65 potential years of porridge 60 would be for wire fraud. What are those 3 counts of wire fraud, specifically? 3 emails that the CEO responded to when informed of the investigation/accusations, saying "deal with it in any way you can"? Which would also be the basis of the "conspiracy" charge.

Not to absolve VW or its CEO of responsibility, but the old USofA do seem to have quite a few of those convenient catch-all laws that could apply to just about anything or anyone. Must be a hell of an interrogation tool to press suspects (not yet criminals, mind you) into plea bargains, etc.

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No top-ups, please, I'm a millennial: Lightweight yoof shunning booze like never before

T. F. M. Reader

Social (network) angle

In my experience drinking is predominantly social: with mates at a pub, with friends at dinner, with one's partner/spouse on a date, whatever. Personally, I think moderate drinking is a very positive component of social interactions. Drinking alone may be a much sadder phenomenon, even if I see nothing wrong with a glass of wine to accompany dinner (but that's not even close to "binge", is it?).

So, what part of the observed decline in alcohol consumption among millennials can be attributed to their spending time alone, on a sofa, in front of a messaging app du jour on a small screen rather than out and about in good company?

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Programmers! Close the StackOverflow tabs. This AI robot will write your source code for you

T. F. M. Reader

What's the AI part?

Did I misread the article or did the programmer actually tell the "AI", via a specially formatted comment, that he wanted to call readline, and the "AI" generated a bit of programming constructs around the call such as a possible calling sequence and an (empty) exception handling scaffolding (that may or may not be needed in that particular place)?

This does not sound very AI-ish to me. Or, indeed, very different from a significant number of 20+ year old elisp functions in my emacs that wrapped various - actually, arbitrary in some cases - function calls in a variety of languages in similar scaffolding, error handling and everything. Taking C as an example, I recall having interactive functions to write code for stuff like malloc()ing a pointer (that included testing that it is not NULL and jumping to a goto label - a poor man's version of try/catch, actually - to clean up), generating a memory cleanup for all the dynamically allocated stuff (to jump to if anything fails - the example in the article does not do that, by the way), writing automatic error checking for every function call returning an int (again, jumping to a cleanup label if the call fails), declaring types (and writing them to a special header that could be included wherever needed), etc., etc. Saved me quite a bit of mundane typing over the years, true, but AI it certainly wasn't (even though I could claim Lisp==AI in the context I wouldn't).

Those were just tools of the trade, not a research project. Other colleagues had similar tools. Never occurred to anyone to call it "AI" or write papers or request DARPA grants...

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Google Pixel 2 XL: Like paying Apple-tier prices then saying, hey, please help yourself to my data

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Hmmm

@Fred West: I beg to disagree. The wording does not look very clear to me, and it certainly does not say that nothing is sent externally. It says only that "songs or conversations" are not sent "to Google". That may well mean something different in Legalese than what you think it means in English.

It also does not say a few important things. For instance, I indeed assume that constantly sending all the ambient audio to "the cloud" would take a lot of BW/power/etc., and I don't expect it, maybe naively, to be done for that reason at least.The wording does not say, however, that the song titles are not collected at leisure.This is an unclear bit, and my paranoid mind tells me that the information may be potentially useful for "targeted advertising". Nor does it say that samples are never collected.

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Translating Facebook's latest 'Hard Questions' PR spin – The Reg edit

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Targeted ads

@ScottK: I don't get targeted advertising. It seems to be braindead.

Probably no more braindead than the email spam of old that was deliberately sprinkled with bad grammar and misspellings and looked ridiculous in general. The target audience was never you or me, but the much more gullible part of the population. Someone who does not question bad grammar will not ask too many questions further along the way, either. The Dilbert Principle of Market Segmentation at work: first you sell to rich idiots, then you use the proceeds to ramp up the production to sell to poor idiots where the real volume is.

Facebook just facilitates identifying those rich (and poor) idiots. That makes spam much more "targeted", from the spammers' point of view, than collecting zillions of email addresses at random and sending those reasonably priced anatomy augmentation offers to everybody. How much better to advertise breast and penis enlargement to punters of the appropriate sex - must be worth paying Facebook a few pennies to classify them, eh?

An additional technology angle is that while email is based on open protocols that allow effective filtering on both metadata and contents, from procmail to Bayes to whatever, and thus old school email spam is effectively swallowed by webmail giants (who do not get paid) and/or client-side add-ons, today's walled silos of proprietary messaging, apps, and "feeds" are not filtered either on the platform end (because the platforms get paid) or on the client end (because the protocols are not open - on the web you can still adblock with some degree of efficiency, but with apps you are basically helpless).

Braindead? No, more sophisticated, I'd say.

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Wow, braking news: Overworked, tired ride-sharing drivers declared a public health risk

T. F. M. Reader

NHTSA statistics...

...are not quite consistent with the article's message, IMHO. The 803 drowsy-driving fatalities in 2016 actually mean a 3.5% YOY decrease, and that despite a 2.2% YOY increase in vehicle-miles.

If proliferation of ride-sharing causes more drowsy drivers to endanger road users I do not see it reflected in the data.

No, this does not make me a fan of Uber or its ilk.

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Google, AWS IPs blocked by Russia in Telegram crackdown

T. F. M. Reader

Prediction

Pretty soon all sort of things will break in Russia because AWS/GC (or large chunks thereof) will be blocked. Ironically, Telegram won't be one of those things.

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Facebook scandal: EU politicians should aim for straight answers, not star witnesses

T. F. M. Reader

Better intelligence

You always get better intelligence from sergeants than from generals.

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Google's not-Linux OS documentation cracks box open at last

T. F. M. Reader

Java API vs. OS

It is absolutely not clear to me what the prospect of losing a Java API lawsuit to Oracle has to do with the OS. Java is not an OS, Java's runtime is just an application, and Java doesn't even support many essential OS primitives or system calls. If Google has to drop the Java API for legal reasons that would mean exactly nothing as far as using the Linux kernel is concerned. Developing a completely new application infrastructure would probably still be easier/cheaper on Linux rather than on an unproven and not widely used OS.

If Google do have strategic thoughts about a different OS that will be about its potential advantages over Linux, e.g., on mobile devices or specifically on ARM, maybe better performance, streamlined resource management, whatever. It would then make sense to port Java - or whatever the Android-specific version with a similar API is called - to that new OS and keep all those apps working without modification.

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El Reg needs you – to help build an automated beer-transporting robot

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Ballistic Delivery

Late to the game: click here, follow the thread till topic changes. Then jump here for a few more (rerun from 2007, I think).

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2018's Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop is a lovely lappie

T. F. M. Reader

Does it run Linux?

All the ThinkPads I've owned - IBM or Lenovo - ran Linux without a hitch, and had 3 mouse buttons. TouchPoint + 3 mouse buttons (in addition to the superb keyboard) have been major selling points for me. For years.

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Wanna work for El Reg? Developers needed for headline-writing AI bots

T. F. M. Reader

Additional advantageous qualification:

Proven ability to carefully obfuscate Easter eggs in perl code each April 1

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Machines making music, translating Chinese, self-driving trucks, and more

T. F. M. Reader
Joke

Whatever.

Given the quality of the best-known examples of Chinese to English translations parity with humans may be not all that great an achievement.

(Yes, you can find the comment title among the translations. I can't assess the quality. See icon,)

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Europe plans special tax for Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Where is the Tax on Microsoft and IBM then?

Try to tax Microsoft and they will upgrade you to Windows 10 while you are not looking.

Try to tax Microsoft and they will upgrade HMRC/IRS/etc. to Windows 10 while they are not looking.

FTFY

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Ex-Google recruiter: I was fired for opposing hiring caps on white, Asian male nerds

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Simple solution

Use anonymous hiring techniques up until the final interviews, for a couple of years, and at the end of it take some measurements.

How will that work? You will not get any classifying data on those applicants who do not get to then final interview if everything prior to that is completely anonymous. Thus, you will not be able to compare the sample that got the jobs to the applicants' population.

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BOFH: Honourable misconduct

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Anon because... of course...

Meg Ryan in a diner from "When Harry Meets Sally" was a popular one to send around the network to be played at random times some... eh... 25-27 years ago...

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Does my boom look big in this? New universe measurements bewilder boffins

T. F. M. Reader

2011 Nobel Prize (Reiss, Perlmutter, and Schmidt)

@article: "for the discovery of the expanding universe"

Surely you mean "for the discovery that the Universe's expansion is accelerating".

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US docs show Daimler may have done a Dieselgate – German press claims

T. F. M. Reader

A computer file system shouldn't lose data, right? Tell that to Apple

T. F. M. Reader

Re: its not a folder, it is a directory!

@eldakka: the "folder" terminology may be disconnected from the underlying reality, but the layperson analogy is consistent: a folder contains "documents", not files.

I just checked: fired up a Windows VM (something I don't do often - I am of directory/file persuasion myself) and Windows Explorer, went to the "Documents" directory... eh, sorry, folder, right-clicked and chose "New". I get a "Microsoft Word Document", a "journal Document", "Text Document", and all sorts of other stuff (including something called a "Briefcase" - no idea what this metaphor is about) but not a single "File".

A quick glance at Apple Support pages (no Mac here) seems to indicate that they use the term "Document", too.

Yes, I am with you: it's files and directories for me, and a directory (as well as everything else) is a file. ;-)

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Sorry, Elon, your Tesla roadster won't orbit for billions of years

T. F. M. Reader

Re: New interstellar lap time

Is the STIG driving it?

No, SHE does.

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Facial recognition software easily IDs white men, but error rates soar for black women

T. F. M. Reader

"Microsoft performed best and IBM was worst"

This simply must be related to IBM's Chief Diversity Officer defecting to Microsoft. No wonder IBM sued...

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Apple tells GitHub to fork off: iGiant steps outside DMCA law in quest to halt iBoot leaks

T. F. M. Reader

"Apple may want to ask GitHub to disable its search functionality"

Live and learn... I didn't even know iBoot was a stage in Apple's boot process (had to google it). To me the term means booting from a remote disk over iSCSI, as invented by IBM (during the time when Apple computers ran on PowerPC, I might add, but absolutely unrelated). So asking GitHub to "disable searching for iBoot" as the article suggests (probably tongue-in-cheek, I realize) may be not entirely feasible.

Btw, it seems that a trademark for "iBoot" is held neither by Apple nor by IBM... Dataprobe... Go figure,

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I see you're writing a résumé?!.. LinkedIn parked in MS Word

T. F. M. Reader

Brilliant!

I can already see the next step: an "AI" that will "help" HR and headhunters rank incoming CVs. It will be built into the most widely used HR and placement agency systems[*]. Obviously, it will rank those written with the help of the Resume Assistant higher, raising the (forthcoming) licensing revenue potential...

[*] Well, most of those already require CVs to be in .docx. Can't handle PDFs, etc.

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Accused Brit hacker Lauri Love will NOT be extradited to America

T. F. M. Reader

Re: Set a precedent?

Think if Facebook and Google assert you have to sue them in California...

In my experience, such clauses are pretty common in employment contracts. You are offered a job at a multinational incorporated in, say, Delaware and headquartered in, say, California. You reside in another country where the employer has presence, offices, etc. Still, the contract states that it is governed by the laws of Delaware (or California, or whatever), which means that if there is a dispute that reaches the stage of lawsuits being filed, etc., you can expect to be subpoenaed to a court in a foreign country with unfamiliar laws, you need to arrange some legal representation there, etc., etc. Not making an appearance is likely to result in a loss by default. And no, this clause int he contract is never negotiable.

I have seen it in employment contracts. I suspect that this is used in all sorts of contracts and other situations, such as ToS. Since you mentioned Google, I checked their ToS that say, inter alia,

The courts in some countries will not apply California law to some types of disputes. If you reside in one of those countries, then where California law is excluded from applying, your country’s laws will apply to such disputes related to these terms. Otherwise, you agree that the laws of California, U.S.A., excluding California’s choice of law rules, will apply to any disputes arising out of or relating to these terms or the Services. Similarly, if the courts in your country will not permit you to consent to the jurisdiction and venue of the courts in Santa Clara County, California, U.S.A., then your local jurisdiction and venue will apply to such disputes related to these terms. Otherwise, all claims arising out of or relating to these terms or the services will be litigated exclusively in the federal or state courts of Santa Clara County, California, USA, and you and Google consent to personal jurisdiction in those courts.

IANAL, but the way I read it that your country of residence must specifically exclude California law from being applicable to disputes about Google's ToS. If it doesn't (I have not got the foggiest idea what the law says in my place of residence, do you?) prepare to litigate in Santa Clara, CA.

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Here we go again... UK Prime Minister urges nerds to come up with magic crypto backdoors

T. F. M. Reader

Metadata

I keep wondering if there is any messaging application that a) does not store even encrypted contents or metadata after delivery (or timeout), b) encrypts the contents and the recipient's details between the sender and the server with a one-time key shared with the sender, c) introduces a random delay to thwart correlation analysis, d) pads the contents to prevent tracking by size (may be superfluous with encryption, but let's keep it in the list), e) re-encrypts the contents and the sender's details with a one-time key shared with the recipient, f) does not keep either the plain text or the encrypted content or the one-time keys or any logs after delivery, g) by default disallow (if possible) synching/backing up to "the cloud".

This will make it so much more difficult for the alphabet (isn't there a company called that?) soup agencies to do metadata analysis. Their remaining options will be restricted to intercepting at the server (or MITM to fake the key exchange), and that will hopefully be restricted to the provider's country of origin and will not give them access to the past history for at-will exploration.

Most of all, I wonder if there may be a business case for such a system (beyond being financed by the next OBL). Not obvious, given that it will be more complex, presumably more expensive to operate, possibly somewhat more cumbersome to use than WhatsApp.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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.

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