* Posts by Nick Kew

1974 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

Who had Intel in the 'discrimination lawsuit' pool? Congratulations

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or perhaps not tell the whole story

That they should underpay someone for either good or bad reasons - entirely plausible. As in, for example, a "nudge" to seek employment elsewhere.

Happened to her, it seems. I expect it could very well happen to a white male, too.

I expect Intel have some of those seemingly-mandatory forms on which employees declare their race and sex. That could help produce some statistics as to whether there really is pay gap based on race or sex amongst colleagues in the same job and level.

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

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I'll do it

Sounds like a good project, stitching together the relevant open-source components.

Couple of conditions, though:

* All work to remain fully open source.

* I also get the commission for the time machine that used it to write the last decade's headlines.

* I get to present it as a PhD project, the year El Reg was launched.

Brit Lords start peer-to-peer wrangling over regulating the internet

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Re: Do they all think they can command the tide?

If you read beyond the headline, they're not prejudging that question. Rather they appear to be asking sensible questions, not least that of whether and in what sense the 'net can be regulated. It might even be worth submitting comments, if you can get past the kneejerk reaction.

Once they've taken evidence, they might even come up with proposals that look better than the status quo. For example, could the Great Firewall (aka IWF) be made more accountable? To what extent does GDPR look fit for purpose, and can lessons be learned from abusers ranging from oldfashioned spammers to Cambridge Analytica? Can we flesh out a policy on encryption that'll stamp on any proposals to damage it?

Europe dumps 300,000 UK-owned .EU domains into the Brexit bin

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It's not in anyone's interest to b***er up existing legitimate users.

I expect this one will be relaxed as part of an eventual deal. At a guess, what'll happen is that the criteria for qualifying will require only token EU presence for existing good-faith users.

Parents blame brats' slipping school grades on crap internet speeds

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Re: Whaaat...

3.9 hours probably mixes young kids (no homework) and older kids (with homework). An example of the meaninglessness of statistics with insufficient context. As is indeed the whole of this article.

Maybe it's just something like 3.9 hours of homework online? Excluding offline homework, and excluding online non-homework. A figure like that coming from just asking parents would tell more about the parents perceptions than the kids, but if it came from logging in to a schools' IT system it could actually mean something.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Indeed. The article seems to be more about sneering than informing. WTF is wrong with kids using wikipedia? We don't all have luxuries like physical libraries, or even textbooks. Well, maybe that last one has changed since my day, but I can't imagine they have textbooks that'll actually satisfy the curiosity of any but the dullest kid in a subject that interests them.

Besides, a slow internet connection is something specific. No connection, you don't waste time on it. Fast connection, you don't waste time unless by choice. But a poor connection can waste an awful lot of time.

Slap visibility beacons on bikes so they can chat to auto autos, says trade body

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Re: Wait a sec

That this is being proposed strongly implies that autonomous vehicles are a long way from being safe and reliable enough to trust on public roads.


It's just someone opportunistically looking to create a market in a new snake-oil flavour.

Nick Kew Silver badge


OK, I put a beacon on the bike.

Not quite sure where/how to attach it: the attachable places of maximum visibility are taken by the lights. But let's assume I find somewhere, and it doesn't fall off.

Now it's a piece of electronic kit with which I don't routinely interact. As a bike accessory it's lightweight and flimsy. It's getting exposed to the elements and shaken up whenever it's used. How the **** do I know when it's working and when it dies, or just needs jiggling to fix that dodgy connection?

When a light fails, at least you can see it (though maybe not immediately in the case of a rear light). No such easy clues for your anti-victim-blame device.

UK.gov unveils cyber security export strategy – only thing missing is the strategy

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Re: Why would anyone else trust UK cybersecurity firms?

Companies aren't the same as government. I wouldn't let a company's nationality have very much effect on whether I trust them. I'd put much more weight on management and track record.

And I'd be inclined to treat politicians acting against a security company as a vote of confidence in a company that isn't their puppet. C.f. Kaspersky.

Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, off you go: Snout of UK space forcibly removed from EU satellite trough

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Re: #headdesk

Well, we now have a company with the classic anglo-saxon name "De La Rue" throwing a tantrum because it is (probably) not getting a free hand to name its price from the UK taxpayer. Something of the Ryanair business model.

Didn't the old passports have some kind of inspirational slogan on? "Dieu et mon Droit" springs to mind.

April FAIL as IETF's funny-but-dodgy draft doc arrives a week early

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Cambridge Analytica seeks data protection assistant

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Re: Sure you can

Blame is a regular concept in software management. It's even part of the tools: cf "svn blame".

Surprise UK raid of Cambridge Analytica delayed: Nobody expects the British information commissioner!

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Re: All that hard work...

Normally one asks, what are they distracting attention from?

The ICO may be small fry compared to, say, the government and navy, but the Russian spat and Boris's gratuitous invocation of Godwin's law are by no means small. Is the other story going wrong already?

Nick Kew Silver badge

You might think that, I couldn't possibly comment.

They're certainly giving the conspiracy theories ample nourishment. And extra time to lay whatever trails may be expedient, maybe for example from CA to the Russian embassy.

AI software that can reproduce like a living thing? Yup, boffins have only gone and done it

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Surely the concept is there in Conway's Game of Life. All the rest is just dressing up.

Fancy a viaduct? We have a wrought Victorian iron marvel to sell you

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Re: Wonderful!

If you feel particularly energetic, you can take your bike on the train to Okehampton, follow National Cycle Route 27 across the Meldon viaduct and then onto Tavistock, passing Lydford Castle and through Lydford Gorge,

Indeed you can, and then the Plym Valley trail from Tavistock to Plymouth is another option, including an impressive newly-built bridge high above the Walkham valley and several old regular stone bridges, with lots of fine views.

To do the Calstock Viaduct, you can get on the train from either Gunnislake or Calstock, That stretch of the Tamar is more a gorge than a mere valley, and the views are worth taking in (though sadly the train line misses those views except at Calstock). There's also a much lower but longer (iron) viaduct on that line, from the Bere peninsula across the estuary of the Tavy and Tamerton Lake into the Plymouth suburbs.

Those of us who live in this part of the country desperately want our railway back: Plymouth to Exeter via Tavistock and Okehampton (i.e. skirting Dartmoor to the West and North). That way, even if it's just a single line with speed restrictions, we're not completely cut off whenever today's line succumbs to the sea around Dawlish/Teignmouth. This would imply re-opening the Meldon Viaduct.

British Level 4 driverless pods are whizzing along ... er, a London path

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Re: Pedestrians Getting in the Way

Pedestrians are also allowed to walk down the road in most circumstances (motorways being the main exception). And for exactly the same good reasons: sometimes there's no choice: no pavement, or pavement occupied by shopping crowds, parked cars, snow&ice, etc.

And before you blame the pedestrian (or anyone else) who can't see or hear you, bear in mind they might be blind or deaf.

UK tech whale Micro Focus: Share price halves as CEO quits, sales slide

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Re: I suspect MF has lasted this long with a very particular corporate cultcure

To be pedantic, Homer didn't write tragedy. The form comes to us principally from the great trio[1] of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. And of course later artists, like Shakespeare and Wagner, who revived the form in their respective times.

[1] "trio" is of course a bit of an oversimplification. Though Sophocles's 95-year life did overlap with both the others.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: I suspect MF has lasted this long with a very particular corporate cultcure

It's been a superb investment over the years. Even after this fall, the share price is more than twice what I paid, and they've generated a lot of cash in the meantime.

Legacy software is a strange business. A long way from the average Reg commentard - but then we're atypical, as witness the small market share held by Windows among us. Clearly their market is elsewhere, but is - or at least was - highly profitable.

My thought was, and still is, if anyone can make a go of the HP mess it's them. Time will tell if this works for them in the longer term, or whether it's a unfolding as a classic τραγῳδία from an act of ὕβρις.

Facebook confirms Cambridge Analytica stole its data; it’s a plot, claims former director

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Re: Curious

* People are often reported as leaving in a huff.

A hidden Marxist. Groucho made the definitive comments on leaving in a huff.

[edit] Oh, right, someone already posted the quote. Ignore me.

Here is how Google handles Right To Be Forgotten requests

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Undefined, unclear, ad-hoc.

It'll fit in beautifully with our legal system, if only we can add a couple of extra zeros to the fees and then cry to government and the media about the inadequacy of Legal Aid to provide Justice.

Brexit in spaaaace! At T-1 year and counting: UK politicos ponder impact

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Re: "Project Fear"

The death penalty no longer applies, but re-purposing Dartmoor,

Oi! Hands off my stomping-ground! Re-purpose your own bloomin' back yard!

Techies building UK web smut age check tools: You'll get a spec next week

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Re: I for one...


Ivor Biggun, is that you??

Brit retailer Currys PC World says sorry for Know How scam

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Re: Still in business ... why?

Yeah, Comet had competitive prices. Which is why I ordered a bunch of white goods from their website when I moved house in 2005.

Nothing happened. After three or four days I 'phoned to ask why, and all was confusion. I told them cancel the whole order, and ordered from Argos instead. It's no wonder Comet went under. Happily my order from Argos arrived first thing the following morning.

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Re: What do you actually get for the £40?

Hmm, you mean you get Windoze without ever accepting the EULA?

Sounds like it might have value to someone. Not sure who.

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Re: Bought laptop from Dell online - pre-configured with Linux

"Who the fuck shops at PC World?!"

Me, several times since moving to where they're within walking distance. Particularly good for emergencies (like this one), and also somewhat useful to see the physical goods before buying. The latter helped me get a cheapo ultrabook whose trackpad I find exceptionally comfortable to use, and a fridge-freezer that fits exactly in an unusual space.

Checked prices against online, and they are competitive. And I certainly haven't experienced the kind of nonsense the article talks of, perhaps for reasons like (from memory) my sales droid for the ultrabook said he used Linux too.

Patent quality has fallen, confirm Euro examiners

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So it's a race to the bottom

Except that Europe is at least twenty or thirty years behind the US.

And some - notably Germans - tend to be too honest to stand for it.

Bad blood: Theranos CEO charged with massive fraud

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Contrast the SEC with the FCA here in Blighty.

The SEC cast a severe eye on her. The FCA would've turned a blind eye instead.

Poop to save planet as boffins devise bullsh*t way of extracting gas

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Re: Elephant in the room?

Sadly, there are a few minor drawbacks.

I expect that'll be why they use anaerobic digestion rather than burning for the farm waste.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Elephant in the room?

Other things being equal (i.e. government funding for hot air), surely the Big Win would be not some variant on anaerobic digestion for farm waste, but a way to harness the human variety. Bonus points for including man's best friend in the scheme.

Fun fact of the day: Voice recognition tech is naturally sexist

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Re: Telephonists

Telephone companies traditionally stated that they employed women telephone operators because their voices were clearer on the line.

That's entirely compatible with the report.

If female *voices* sound more alike than male ones, that would tend to make their *words* easier to follow in adverse circumstances like a noisy/low-bandwidth line.

Stephen Hawking dies, aged 76

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Can't believe noone here has consigned him to the Clacks yet ...

To think, many years ago as a young student in the neighbouring Pure Maths department, I would semi-regularly encounter him in the wheelchair with his helpers, without really knowing who he was. My occasional forays into DAMPT[1] revealed a singularity in the building, that may have been his field.

[1] Department of Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics.

Please, Hammond ... don't hurt 'em: 'Suggestions' time for UK digi tax clampdown

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Who on earth was downvoting your comment?

Not me. Only just read this story, and not voting either way on the comments here.

But the description "cartoon character" looks to me like confusing Milne's childrens books for some film, probably Disney. What's not to downvote about that?

Developer mistakenly deleted data - so thoroughly nobody could pin it on him!

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I shall leave you with this question: if you were placed in the same situation, and had the presence of mind that always comes with hindsight, could you have got out of it in a simpler or easier way?

Yes. Take up a new career writing IT suspense stories. That one looks massively TL;DR, but had me gripped!

Pasties in SPAAAAACE: Cornwall hopes for slice of £50m spaceport cash

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The transatlantic cables bring no benefit locally. It's not like, say, a Nigerian oil pipeline we can tap in to and help ourselves. It's just disruption when they dig up the roads.

Special funding for rural broadband is an altogether different question.

I'm sure your tongue was in your cheek there, but it brought back memories of the time when both my on-road routes to work (about six miles at the time) were dug up.

UK takes first step towards criminalising driverless car hackers

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Re: Fighting "planned" obsolescence.

Stick to open source. With a robust dev community.

Or, better, never own a car. Just summon one with your app when you need it. Advantage: the bigco managing a whole fleet of them is better-placed than the individual to ensure support doesn't get pulled.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Manufacturers should be liable

Would we also have a case like with the aviation industry where a fault can lead to the grounding of all similar planes until the problem is fixed?

Striking a balance between that and a regular product recall is presumably the kind of thing on the current agenda.

Sacked saleswoman told to pay Intel £45k after losing discrim case

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Re: Legal Costs

That's what happens if you get taken to court.

But in this case, wasn't it her who went to court? Not so unfair when it's a consequence of your own action.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Representing herself could simply be all she could afford. That's not unusual, and the hot air we occasionally get about "equality of arms" when a highly-trained barrister faces some poor sod who has no choice is meaningless.

Though come to think of it, scrub that. She did have a choice - just put Intel behind her and get on with life. Not a victim after all.

Half the world warned 'Chinese space station will fall on you'

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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern will die

In September 2011 it was a US satellite coming down, and I blogged about it:

"A NASA satellite is crashing to earth, out of control. Noone knows where it will land, but the chattering classes have been speculating on the risk of humans getting hit by it.

I just heard Prof. David Spiegelhalter on the wireless telling us the risk of getting hit was similar to the chance of 44 consecutive Heads on tossing a fair coin.

The Stoppard fans among us know that 44 times is nothing. Do we need to resort to an Infinite Improbability Drive?"

Good luck saying 'Sorry I'm late, I had to update my car's firmware'

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Re: Let's get physical

Very cheap, yes. But surely subject to the same security concerns as a software update: an imposter could brew up a ROM containing malware, at a cost that's a drop in the ocean compared to a home or car system. Security again boils down to a cryptographic chain of trust.

How do SIM cards authenticate? That looks like a framework for pushing out a handshake. Having a SIM card manage security of signed updates, whether of hardware or software, should surely be feasible.

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Re: A new cause for concern

Not sure that's entirely new: rather it's a new face on a well-known issue. We've seen it online where a domain changes hands from someone trusted (and linked from respected sources) to someone evil. Not a private key, but a level of trust that might count for just as much.

The more interesting question is, who is thinking about it? You can mitigate: for example, IoT company's insurers to hold keys and revocation certificates in escrow, but who will make that a code of practice?

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

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Re: Won't somebody think of the....

I remember a lady programmer telling me about how she had to fix the walks of a game's female characters, because the blokes had no idea the hips worked differently.

Was she really a programmer? Sounds more like a visual/arty kind of person. Yeah, OK, she could be someone who wears more than one hat, but really! How many programmers do you suppose give a d*** about the accurate depiction of the gait of cartoon characters in a game?

OK, I expect having someone with her eye for detail probably improved the eventual game. Diversity of talents is good, though totally different from "diversity" imposed for SJW reasons.

Nick Kew Silver badge


To respect your wishes I'll address you as "Dear Anonymous Coward".

Thank you, but there was absolutely no need for that. The reason for anonymity was that, in my judgement, it seemed entirely appropriate to what I was writing that you should read it "blind". If you read it before googling for the origin then my anonymity served it's purpose. If not ... well, there's no compulsion to play along.

And yes, I was aware as I wrote that a reader could probably identify me (only probably, because I couldn't be arsed to verify it for myself). After all, I even mentioned the possibility of googling me in the text!

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Assumptions

I always find it amusing that (typically) conservative white males leap to the assumption that the women and under-represented recruits are "token", "mediocre", or somehow less-than them.

I always find it amusing that (typically) white male SJWs jump to utterly unjustified conclusions about what other people think. If I were to say "my application failed because the quota was already filled", I'm not saying I'm better than a black female candidate who got the job. Merely that our respective merits were never considered, and no-one has made a judgement either way.

She may very well be better than me (we'll never know), but even so she wasn't recruited on merit. And that should bother her too, if she has self-respect.

Exactly as is alleged to be happening at Google.

ObDisclaimer: I've never applied to work at Google, though I've had my share of spam from their recruiters. In common with, I suspect, most Reg commentards.

Nick Kew Silver badge

This looks the most interesting

With other ex-googler cases, it's about touchy-feely and subjective things like a hostile workplace environment. This one looks much more like objective discrimination issues: is it happening, and is it legal? Looks like a good one to follow.

BOFH: Honourable misconduct

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Re: I think I even have a script for that.

I've been trying to sell a TV series based on the BOFH for ages now - after getting the OK from Simon to draw on his stuff, I completed seven scripts and tried to get production companies interested

Ooh! Good luck with that. I wonder what level of cliqueiness you're up against with the production companies that have the ear of telly commissioners?

For me to make suggestions is probably a case of teaching granny to suck eggs, but ... have you tried thinking through your customer's mindset? For example, making Simon's alter ego a female would tick a huge box with the BBC in terms of representing women in central roles, without seriously impacting on the story lines. Just wondering!

Euro Commission gives tech firms an hour to take down terror content

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How fine-grained?

Taking discussion from the abstract to the specific and well-known, how fine-grained should censorship be?

Should the entire Bible be banned, or only those extensive passages that explicitly glorify acts of terror, genocide, and war?

And what about works derived from the Bible's terror content? Like the Dixit Dominus, the slaughter to put the greatest 20th century monsters in the shade? Or the story of Elijah - the great role model for Bin Laden? Or small-scale terrorist acts like the suicide bomber Samson?

Boffins baffled as AI training leaks secrets to canny thieves

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Stands to reason

Humans in particularly sensitive activities[1] have long operated on a need-to-know basis.

Occasionally we hear of a dog or other animal being killed because it knows too much and would reveal something to an enemy.

If the "I" in AI is to mean anything, we're into the same situation.

[1] Including some that are sensitive only because the glare of publicity would reveal monumental waste of taxpayer funds, and such things.

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