* Posts by Nick Kew

1974 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

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

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Well done that man!

Iconoclasm is alive and well today. Modern-day wannabe-Savonarolas range from Islamist nutters to our own Royal Family.

The worst instance affecting us is, I think, the censorship movement characterised as SJW. That's worst because it's the most influential: it's taken root in the BBC, for instance. But we should bear in mind that the real a**hole SJW is as much of an embarrassment to reasonable left-ish folks as Trump is to advocates of free speech who push back against SJWs.

And of course there's nothing new about it. See for instance Wilt (1976) for some wicked send-up of SJWs that look remarkably similar to today's.

Mobileye's autonomous cars are heading to California. But they're not going to kill anyone. At least not on purpose

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Smart??

Nonsense! People are very insistent on their inalienable right to a machine that might kill them. Cars being an obvious case in point, killing thousands each year and terrorising whole populations into keeping children and vulnerable folks out of danger - and hence denying them freedom to develop.

It's only looking from outside an obsessed culture that you see such obsession and its absurdity. Like when we in Blighty view the US and its guns.

Nick Kew Silver badge


You tell us Shashua was full of straw. Then you use your own strawmen to argue against him.

I don't recollect ever seeing that bouncing ball, in [mumble] years of life. You say I should be alert to the possibility of it being followed by a child. I say Shashua is right: that shouldn't affect behaviour. When in charge of a potentially-dangerous machine you should always be alert to risks. You really shouldn't need a bouncing ball to grab your attention.

What grabs my attention is any broken line of sight. Anything from parked cars to a gate or hedge could conceal the next hazard, and I want to be prepared for it!

Don't try and beat AI, merge with it says chess champ Garry Kasparov

Nick Kew Silver badge

The prodigy

Chess is one of those activities where the child prodigy can shine. Years of worldly experience count for less than sheer ability to work with patterns. The only caveat is that the patterns are somewhat removed from natural by the complexity of the rules (I much prefer patterns in Go).

The chess computer learning without ever studying human games is basically taking that principle to the extreme. If it's winning, that kind-of makes it the ultimate child prodigy: deep pattern awareness, no worldly experience.

It's Galileo Groundhog Day! You can keep asking the same question, but it won't change the answer

Nick Kew Silver badge


We keep seeing this reported, but no details or reasons.

Q1 - What? Is it "the UK will be locked out", or "the UK's current access will no longer exist"? The latter seems more plausible, and would then be subject to negotiating an alternative deal.

Q2 - Why? Is it a matter of EU court jurisdiction? A financial deal? A security deal? A standards deal?

Q3 - Who? Does Norway have access, and on what basis? Iceland? Determinedly-neutral Switzerland? Technically-allied-but-troublesome neighbours like Turkey or Israel?

IBM bans all removable storage, for all staff, everywhere

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: It's going to be fun...

Indeedie. All sorts of things that smell of an impossible thing the Boss expects. Fertile ground for the likes of Dilbert, xkcd, or (best of all) a Reg Friday column such as BOFH or On Call.

I expect we'll find that this policy, once clarified, applies only to user-writable storage. So devices like an approved read-only USB stick will be allowed for cases like this. And likely some more clarification once egg is seen on someone's face.

What's no doubt really meant (even if someone behind the press release thinks otherwise) is naturally a "no unauthorised use" policy and a robust process for authorisation. And then somewhere down the line, fire someone for allowing authorisation to become a rubber-stamp exercise.

Zero Tech Emitted: ZTE halts assembly lines after US govt sanctions cripple mobile maker

Nick Kew Silver badge

But didn't you say ...

So how does this fit with the customary narrative that the Chinese just rip off American tech willy-nilly?

How come ZTE aren't just producing their own clones of components whose supply has been cut off, or at least sourcing them from some Chinese tech-clone manufacturer?

Mike Lynch's British court showdown v HPE pushed back to 2019

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Caveat Emptor

As per recent Reg articles, many within HP, including the then CFO, thought the same but they were railroaded and/or simply ignored.

A URL or two would be welcome there.

Some non-techie folks take a different view. Here's one such.

Yes, people see straight through male displays of bling (they're only after a fling)

Nick Kew Silver badge

Indeed, the study as reported here seems to have asked leading questions that completely prejudice the answers.

I heard about this on the radio last night, and formed a somewhat-different impression from that report. But it occurred to me that I've always steered well clear of flash or bling when looking for a mate, for what that's worth.

Writing that, it occurs to me you could take it two ways. I meant to say, I've always steered clear of ladies who are dolled up and looking artificial or expensive. But it could also describe how I present myself: even when I had a car, I wouldn't touch a wankmobile.

UK's Royal Navy buys £13m mine-blasting robot boat

Nick Kew Silver badge
Thumb Down

Guto Bebb

No good will come of this minister. Just look at that grammar[*]!

[*] Neither will any good come of those who would seek to legitimise it. The (defensible) proposition that some split infinitives are less bad than others does nothing for such egregious usage as quoted here.

Nick Kew Silver badge


I was going to say something along those lines.

But what you really want in the face of this thing is a good mix of technologies. Some fancy-modern, others (possibly ancient and simple) that will elude this device.

Heir to SMS finally excites carriers, by making Google grovel

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Can we fix what's wrong with SMS?

I can blacklist based on number, but yes, it could be better. Not a problem with the SMS protocol, but a problem with the software.

Up to a point, Lord Copper.

My core desire is:

1. Default: accept messages from valid senders provided the address is replyable.

2. Default: reject messages from un-replyable addresses.

3. Blacklist/whitelist on individual addresses (not just on a number).

and a (for the time being) lesser thing:

4. Rules-based filtering (e.g. "loans" --> reject).

Current main bugbear is (2): does the protocol provide any means to determine whether an address is replyable? I suspect that might be a growing issue if GDPR doesn't stop most SMS spam.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Can we fix what's wrong with SMS?

OK, what's wrong with SMS?

- very limited control over what you allow/block

- phone insists on beeping to alert me of sms.

The first calls for much better address traceability, and better software. The second should be straightforward in just software, or by getting a better phone.

I'm happy for them to develop a new protocol. Just so long as it doesn't start to become a integral to having a 'phone number, as SMS has done for mobiles.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Anyone remember RCS

... as Revision Control System? The GNU alternative to sccs, before we had CVS, let alone modern systems like svn, git, hg.

Guess I'm showing my age, but I struggle to think of RCS as anything else in a computing context.

Hacking charge dropped against Nova Scotia teen who slurped public records from the web

Nick Kew Silver badge

@Ole Juul

The IT contractor probably just meant to draw attention to the possibility of slurping data in bulk, with the implied question "Is this really what you want?" They might have been banging on about it already, in which case this becomes "look, it's happened, we told you so".

That offers a perfectly innocent explanation of the contractor's actions. And the contractor would then be as flabbergasted as any of us at the bizarre reaction to it. It would also fit the scenario of a client who had completely failed to grasp what the contractor was talking about in the "is this really what you want?" memo.

Admin needed server fast, skipped factory config … then bricked it

Nick Kew Silver badge

Saved by the power supply

Power supplies can do a pretty good job.

December 1997. I had just started a new business and had as workhorse a shiny new Pentium Pro (about £2k at then-price). Was working at it when - without warning - a great flash of lightning. One suddenly-dead 'puter. And being the holiday season, nothing I could do for several days 'til the shops reopened.

Come the new working year, I take it to the shop, first thing. We try a new power supply. It works: slackware runs fdisk, all is well. Phew: I can cope with a two-figure replacement bill!

Thereafter I had a motherboard that was visibly blackened in several places, with one corner curled up from - presumably - a momentary scorching. Yet the power supply had taken all the real damage, and the machine lived many years.

Blighty: If EU won't let us play at Galileo, we're going home and taking encryption tech with us

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: TwatNav

And FYI you missed the part about unemployed migrants being able to move to a state and claim whatever unemployment benefits are available.

Wrong. That right only applies with permanent residence - after a qualifying five years contributing to your new country.

My original point is that you could move to a member state and become a burden on said state and the rules back that up.

The rules are very explicit: you absolutely can't become a burden on a state other than your own before five years legally resident in that state.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: TwatNav

Half the problem with the EU system is that there are no checks that someone moving around the EU can actually afford to do so.

That's the core lie. EU rules say no such thing. Freedom of movement offers three basic rights (all subject to some conditionality for exceptional circumstances like terrorist or serious criminal activity).

(1) The right to visit another EU country pretty-much unconditionally for up to three months.

(2) The right to work. So long as you have a job with sufficient income to live on, you can stay indefinitely and on non-discriminatory terms.

(3) The right to retire. You have to demonstrate sufficient income to live, and also medical insurance, in order to stay more than three months.

Oh, and after five years legally resident under (2) or (3), you can claim permanent residence and other rights of a native-born citizen.

Any rights and privileges beyond those are completely in the gift of member states. The fact that the UK system confers some very perverse rights is just one consequence of a system that's broken-as-designed: it suited Labour to create dependency and encourage immigration, and it suited the Tories (and their paymasters) to demonise Europe.

Nick Kew Silver badge


Once Britain leaves Europe we could move it to another continent,

El Reg is ahead of the game. They already reported on that.

Nick Kew Silver badge


Brownness as such may have a very different effect to what you'd think.

It was the rise of white mass-immigration that enabled an anti-immigration party to avoid the "racism" stigma that had always stuck to their predecessors (the National Front and BNP) when immigration was predominantly non-white. A new era of commonwealth immigration would reverse that: either we move to open racism, or an anti-immigration agenda again becomes taboo. 'Cos anti-immigration vs anti-immigrant agendas are too subtle a distinction for the Chattering Classes.

Nick Kew Silver badge

@Chris G

I had no vote but I would have voted to remain.

Aha! Are you one of those Brits abroad who Cameron promised to enfranchise in the 2015 election manifesto, but then gerrymandered out of the referendum vote?

Nick Kew Silver badge


Yeah, but every time our journos ask Indian people what they want in a post brexit deal, it's always free movement of people.

If Eastern European immigration was too much for the Brits, India has an order of magnitude more people who are an order of magnitude poorer.

Nick Kew Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Idiots

Spike Milligan: How I won the War!

Have an upvote for a wonderful mental image!

Nick Kew Silver badge

"I'm over Europe. Get me out of here!"

(from somewhere over East Asia. Or something).

BOFH: But I did log in to the portal, Dave

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: I've been there

Would that be the HPE that just got taken over by Micro Focus a few months ago?

You never know what changes that might portend. For myself, I don't expect ever to find out, and I'm happy that way.

My PC is on fire! Can you back it up really, really fast?

Nick Kew Silver badge


That kind of story no doubt stems from the idea that whatever equipment you buy, if you tamper with it you invalidate the warranty. Which is probably at least a disciplinary offence in a workplace.

So "do not tamper" becomes an instinctive reaction, and hard to override.

Typical cynical Brits: Broadband speeds up, satisfaction goes down

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Where I live speed isn't the problem

I've been in exactly that situation. I'll happily book a Premier Inn, but only when I've checked that the bedroom windows can be opened. I have phoned ahead with that question, and I don't recollect it as a difficult experience.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: The good news is that Comcast is going to enter the British ISP market...

I don't think the United States would do that to you guys.

What is spoken (or written) in jest ...

My experience of the US is very limited, but I've seen much that is good when there. Yet your most famous and successful exports are utter trash. Conclusion: you export your worst stuff, but keep your best stuff for yourselves.

Our Virgin Media is owned by a US corporation. I don't know if that has any bearing on its evilness.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Where I live speed isn't the problem

The next up is the cost of the technical support line.

The cost is now regulated in Blighty, and I *think* that's EU-wide. No premium-rate numbers. Though it can mount up if the *reason* you're calling is that the line is down, and you have to resort to an expensive emergency 'phone.

Virgin do better than that. After the long, long sequence of menus and adverts comes the On Hold, where instead of the usual dumbed-down Vivaldi or Lloyd Webber or whatever, you get some aggressive yob screaming down the phone (words unclear; message an emphatic "F*** OFF"). Then if the synthetic voice eventually reappears and tells you it's putting you through to a human, it cuts you off instead.

Nick Kew Silver badge

There is a commonality in expectation.

If my mobile 'phone service dies, I expect to be able to demand a fix from customer services.

If my broadband service dies, I expect to be able to demand a fix from customer services.

The former has always been fine: if all else fails, I can walk into my provider's high street shop and they'll deal with it.

The latter was OK too, until I had the misfortune to become a Virgin customer. Now I've been waiting since January to get my broadband fixed (and in practice moved to 4G broadband).

Nick Kew Silver badge

talktalk rebrand?


Hmm, maybe we can come up with something more catchy. Chitchat? Scope for alternative spellings there.

(though they really can't be worse than inspired-by-Kafka Virgin).

El Reg's Serverless Computing London call for papers shuts tonight

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Techies! Britain's defence secretary wants you – for cyber-sniping at Russia

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Be careful!

ITYM queens_bitcoin today. Keep up at the back!

Pressgangs to roam the streets of Shoreditch in search of silly half-beards?

Bill Gates declined offer to serve as Donald Trump's science advisor

Nick Kew Silver badge

Gates isn't a scientist. But I understand he is able to listen to scientists, and more open to science than Trump.

He's also a hugely successful businessman, which seems to earn him Trump's respect.

Combine those, and perhaps he'd be a good man for the job!

if dev == woman then dont_be(asshole): Stack Overflow tries again to be more friendly to non-male non-pasty coders

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: It's not gender or colour

Been to Expertsexchange recently?

No. Never.

Just Say No to spammers. Must be over 20 years since I first blacklisted wannabes-exchange.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Making a SJW issue

John went to stackoverflow. He asked a vague and ill-defined question, and got asked what part of TFM he had a problem with.

Jane went to stackoverflow. She asked a vague and ill-defined question, and got asked what part of TFM she had a problem with.

This is not a story of people who learned from their experience to be better programmers. It's a story of people who wanted to be spoonfed, and weren't interested in anything else.

So ...

John gave up, went away, drew a line under trying to use stackoverflow, posted elsewhere mentioning stackoverflow being a negative place.

Jane gave up, went away, drew a line under trying to use stackoverflow, posted elsewhere mentioning stackoverflow being a negative place.

Now the scene is set. SJW (with research funds to spend) seeking hostile environment finds Jane's experience, finds context to identify her as a woman. Repeat over a few more Janes, and we have the data to prove stackoverflow is a hostile place for women.

Autonomy ex-CFO Hussain guilty of fraud: He cooked the books amid $11bn HP gobble

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: in this case, both sides are right

Oy! Let's have a bit less porcophobia please!

When did you ever meet a pig with such bad taste as to apply warpaint to the lips?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Plenty of blame...

HP has form, going way beyond just Apotheker's time. Never mind Palm: when HP swallowed Autonomy they had already paid ridiculous amounts for EDS in a hubristic attempt to ape IBM and Oracle over their full range of activities.

Here's a query that turns up a couple of my comments on the subject.

Javid's in, Rudd's out: UK Home Sec quits over immigration targets scandal

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Aside from the usual noise

None of the "HIM" candidates want the job yet.

Once they judge that we've reached the point of maximum blame, things will look different.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Gove

@Ledswinger - I was half-hoping Gollum would get the job[1].

Of course it's the kind of half-hope one might very well come to regret, but the context is a department that's long been dysfunctional.

If anyone could stand up to the department's Humphrey and bring change, Gollum's a strong candidate. And if he fails and becomes the latest victim, no tears shed over that.

BTW, could May's long survival there be because, as top *woman* in the Cameron team, she was essentially above serious criticism? Of course that didn't apply to Rudd, and no longer applies to May 'cos if she gets booted from the PM job her successor gets a clean slate. She survives now 'cos Boris's wet dream is to take over at the bottom of the brexit crisis and be seen to lead recovery, which needs May to take the blame.

[1] Not a reaction to your usage: search the Reg archives and I've called him that here before.

Nick Kew Silver badge


A dead hamster would be better than Rudd.

That's TMI about your diet!

BOFH: Guys? Guys? We need blockchain... can you install blockchain?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Published at 08:36

"I'm still trying to work out what happened to the first mouse ..."

The early bird was a seagull in search of breakfast?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Hmmm. Office with a balcony? I've worked in all the wrong places.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Peak of Inflated Expectations and the Trough of Disillusionment


That's Bunyan! And none the worse for being appropriated by all and sundry.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Blockchain for sale

I'll bid you the bitcoin in my back pocket. It's no use to me: I can just as well use a pound coin for the shopping trolley.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Blockchain is the new XML

Pfft. We've been through a few iterations since XML. Virtualisation and the Cloud, for instance.

Besides, isn't JSON the new XML? A data format for everything!

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Published at 08:36

Who cares when it's published? I'm reading it at my own choice of time. With a glass of something, and looking forward to a plate of something to accompany it very shortly.

Are you obsessed with instant gratification the moment an article is published? Bah, humbug.

That Brexit in action: UK signs pact to let Euro court judge its patents

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: The right thing to do.

Somehow it all works well in German. Doesn't sound so contrived as antidisestablishmentarianology.

Eurocrats double down on .eu Brexit boot-out

Nick Kew Silver badge

Incredible Euro space agency data leak... just as planned: 1.7bn stars in our galaxy mapped

Nick Kew Silver badge

One up?

OK, does this count as One Up on Google Maps?

Perhaps in the sense that the moon landings got One Up on Sputnik?

I'll get me coat.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019