* Posts by Nick Kew

1974 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

Facebook sued for exposing content moderators to Facebook

Nick Kew Silver badge

So am I, and I don't even get paid for it. Though the nasty stuff I see is just like general spam.

I'm sure I could cope with Facebook nasties (boredom aside): I'd have more problem arguing with people disputing my decisions (which tend towards freedom of speech over nannying busybodies).

On the other hand, I'd seriously struggle to work as, say, a paramedic or a prison officer.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: The 1%

No, in reality it'll be a lot less than 1%.

It just looks more, because the really bad ones are something you notice, and stick in the memory.

You see the same in other walks of life: think back to last time you got infuriated by the tiny-but-conspicuous minority of idiot [select category of road users] doing idiotic/terrifying things, and compare the inconspicuous thousands just going about their business.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Get rid of the lot

Social media reflect life. Get over it.

Only without less curation than older media. At least, until the moderatrix[1] sees one's comment.

[1] That's historic. I don't know who moderates here these days.

Nick Kew Silver badge


I was going to say that about juries. No choice. And for some of us (among whom reg-reading INTJs might well be prominent), there's the potential for long-term trauma over ones own guilt in reaching a verdict one suspects to be wrong, once the reality-distortion field created by the career Liars in court has worn off.

As for gruesome everyday scenes, the career to worry about would be emergency services. Police, fire service, ambulance service/paramedics. Or indeed social services.

How an over-zealous yank took down the trading floor of a US bank

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

I don't feel like grey beard yet..

That's OK. We welcome diversity here. Beards of all colours and even non-beards welcome.

I agree with Korev: there are times when a greybeard icon would be useful here. And of course it would be open to honourary greybeards as well as us literals.

Nick Kew Silver badge

An excusable event

Insofar as coopting any server as an entertainment machine is excusable.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Unplugging the keyboard = kernel panic ?

"Plug in a keyboard and press F1 to continue booting" would therefore have been a better and unambiguous message.....

I think the reason that message was "funny" is precisely that it generally happened when a perfectly good keyboard was indeed correctly plugged in all the time. The problem lay elsewhere.

I was using mostly sparc workstations around the time of the story. But I don't recollect ever yanking a keyboard out, so I can't say one way or t'other whether anything bad happens. I suspect it depends on what is listening to the keyboard, and how it reacts on losing it, hence some seeing huge overreaction while jake saw no problem.

I want to buy a coffee with an app – how hard can it be?

Nick Kew Silver badge

When I pay for coffee (i.e.: not at work), I invariably go to my local, independently owned (and the owners are often behind the counter) shop.

All very well if they're open.

Town where I used to live and still regularly visit: strong foodie reputation, lots of independent cafés. But if you want a refreshment between about 5pm and pub-o-clock, the only option is Costa.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Soda jerks

before I've even had the chance to raise my eyes to the "menu" to find out what they sell.

I can't do that. I'd need to be on their side of the counter, and probably standing on a chair or equivalent height, to read the bloomin' board on which it's written.

Most places will provide a menu on request - if they're not already lying around on the tables. Just occasionally they won't. At worst, asking for one (after standing in a queue where a person with better eyesight would just have read the blackboard) leads to "it's all up there", and impatient incomprehension of my need for anything else.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Ahh yes, that old stalwart of badly implemented GUIs

Like ssh and pgp implementations that give you a pop-up to enter your passphrase.

A bit of lag, or another application popping something at you, and it becomes very easy to fall victim to what we sometimes call ECHAN on IRC.

Nick Kew Silver badge

No sympathy

You're clearly spending far too much time in Shoreditch. Try the Real World.

Enigma message crack honours pioneering Polish codebreakers

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Polish contributions

It seems odd how so much relatively recent history, is still being discovered.

Not really. Wartime secrecy and deception morphed straight into both cold-war intrigue and the politics of zionism and modern Israel. Lots of powerful players with enmities, suspicions, and propaganda Agendas that have changed over the years but are still with us. A historian is faced with obstacles ranging from state-enforced secrecy to weaponised taboos.

Got any ecsta-sea? Boffins get octopuses high on MDMA – for science, duh

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: "California two-spot octopus"

Hmmm. Would octopedes imply a plurality of molluscs, or rather a plurality of feet?

Come to think of it, isn't "octopus" itself a misnomer. That is to say, shouldn't it be eightfeet rather than eightfoot? And that's leaving aside the question of whether it's reasonable to describe their tentacles as legs: perhaps one could get there via some arachnalogy[1]?

[1] arachnid analogy.

Deliveroo to bike food to hungry fanbois queuing to buy iPhones

Nick Kew Silver badge


Not sure why the article is sneering at Deliveroo. It's just pulling a perfectly reasonable stunt. Can't imagine they'll really get business out of it, but it's amusing enough.

We might validly criticise or condemn Deliveroo's (non-)employment practices: I don't know enough about the reality of it to comment. But sneering at a harmless tongue-in-cheek stunt?

Nick Kew Silver badge


Not many tramps with iphones?

How would you know? Do you make a study of tramps' inventories? Can you tell an iphone from AN Other gadget at a distant glance, or do you peer up really close?

Tech to solve post-Brexit customs woes doesn't exist yet, peers say

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Loads of tech exists

We don't doubt that lots of tech exists.

But it can never be the solution to the NI border. Tech can serve to implement a solution, but there has first to be a political solution to implement.

They can't agree a political solution because the EU's red line is the integrity of its standards such as food safety, and the brexiteers red line is NOT to be bound by any such standards.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Yesterdays news

which is what the EU is currently insisting upon

No they're not. It's just one backstop option for them.

If the UK junks EU standards (very specifically food standards, the big Red Line that has prevented a full free trade agreement with the US over many years), then all that stands between the EU and mass-smuggling of growth-hormone-filled beef is the capacity of the roads and rail between Belfast and Dublin. Or else a proper border with customs checks.

So no open border unless NI maintains regulatory alignment - or at least equivalence (what happens in the rest of the UK is not the concern of the EU here - hence the particular focus on NI). Which is precisely what the US trade lobbyists (aka brexiteers) absolutely won't stand for.

Flying to Mars will be so rad, dude: Year-long trip may dump 60% lifetime dose of radiation on you

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Anti-ageism

You could be on to something there. Certain old people not merely put up with but pay vast amounts of money to be confined for long periods in a small space. Could Mars be, for the pioneers, a more exclusive cruise destination?

Holy macaroni! After months of number-crunching, behold the strongest material in the universe: Nuclear pasta

Nick Kew Silver badge


Have you just beheld His Divine Noodliness?

Oz government rushes its anti-crypto legislation into parliament

Nick Kew Silver badge

That's not quite true: companies have a history of producing country-specific versions of products. So you'd just want to avoid the Oz version - and indeed they'd do their best to prevent you getting the Oz version from outside Oz.

The more relevant question is how much you trust the company itself. Has it inserted an NSA backdoor in return for not being given the Kaspersky treatment?

Biz! Formerly! Known! As! Yahoo! Settles! Data! Breach! Cases! To! The! Tune! Of! $47m!

Nick Kew Silver badge

Is it me?

Am I totally out of touch never having heard of "Altaba" before today?

Are they trying to confuse us with the names of successful companies? If it's not Alibaba, must be Alphabet. No, it's not Alphabet, must be Alibaba. Oh, erm, Alright, nevermind, Al-wossname, must be google ... erm ... wot woz the Chinese google again ... erm ...

Leeds hospital launches campaign to 'axe the fax'

Nick Kew Silver badge


... and because we have a monumentally bureaucratic and inefficient system. Not to mention one whose priorities are horribly warped (no link because story of victim killed by NHS warped process has no writeup available).

Sysadmin misses out on paycheck after student test runs amok

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: ADA!

What a great instructor. Introducing you to real-world problems like that. Did he also manage to ensure that TFM had gone walkabout whenever you needed it?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Should've ...

Should've kept this Ada away from students: tick. Keep her virtue intact.

Some comments here are evidently from the young, to whom that is and always has been elementary first principles. But it was a different world back then. People on computers and networks were interested, not malicious. Security as we know it today wasn't even a twinkle in the bursar's eye - let alone the sysop who was in the job for the exposure to otherwise-far-too-expensive toys.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Why...

(based in what was then said to be the longest corridor in Europe)

I suspect there are a lot of those.

I heard the claim made of Newnham College (Cambridge) when I had occasion to navigate it. I thought it a slightly dodgy claim: it worked by aggregating a lot of sections that wouldn't necessarily all be considered as a single corridor. Anyway, not a place I can imagine as a venue for what you describe, even if someone hadn't already outed you elsewhere :)

Who's hacking into UK unis? Spies, research-nickers... or rival gamers living in res hall?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Who? When?

during ... the UK working day

So that's neither students nor academics, then.

Linux kernel's Torvalds: 'I am truly sorry' for my 'unprofessional' rants, I need a break to get help

Nick Kew Silver badge
Thumb Down

Re: For fucks sake

Erm, the post TonyJ quoted was pretty unpleasant, but did it really need to be moderated away?

I thought my downvote was an appropriate level of reaction!

Nick Kew Silver badge

these CoCs are a load of unnecessary drama

Are they?

Perhaps they serve a useful purpose. Give the idiots something to argue incessantly, while the rest of us get on with our work.

If the hot air is filling your developer forum, you may want to exercise a little diplomacy. Give them a new forum, and make it clear that's where Really Important Things happen. Or create your own new forum, with a name that makes it look a bit too specialist for them.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: I blame the source code management...

Mycho, I hereby charge you with subversion.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Don't let the namby-pambys run the Kernel, Linus!

Jake, I think I can identify with what you're saying.

The other side you need to look at is how you feel and act in your own niche. Where you're in charge and taking contributions from others. Some good, some dodgy, and some bloomin' impossible to evaluate. And differing attitudes from the contributors, with attitudes having no correlation with quality. When someone's quality is suspect and their attitude insistent, you might feel the need to put them down, right?

Now for most of us, our own God niche is small, and the amount of contributions coming our way is manageable. Linus, by contrast, is God in a very big world. That's a lot of pressure to deal with. Perhaps he does sometimes deliver put-downs beyond where they're well-deserved?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Takes one to know one

Re your last paragraph. Garrett himself is not immune to some pretty strong rants, including passive-aggressive (that I wouldn't like to be on the wrong side of) and in-your-face SJW. But following his blog (which I do via Planet Debian) is worth it for the good stuff that, for me, clearly outweighs the bad.

Birds of a feather there?

How an augmented reality tourist guide tried to break my balls

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Have Beer. Or Vin Rouge. Molto Vin Rouge.

Damn, why can't I both upvote and downvote a post? Upvote for the anecdote, downvote for linguistic horror. I shall have to forego both of them to cancel it out.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Dead trees never failed anyone

Travelling by train in Sweden two years ago, paper wasn't an option. Getting on at an unmanned station with no ticket machine, the only option was to buy online and display it to the ticket inspector on the 'phone.

Fortunately their system worked. Via a regular browser: no reinvent-the-wheel app needed.

When I got off the train - at the main station in Sweden's second city - was where I encountered trouble. Finding my onward bus (to the airport) and buying a ticket for it was a total nightmare: ticket machines out of action, and a vast, non-moving queue for about two human staff. Airport was a nightmare too. Grrrr....

Probably for the best: Apple makes sure eSIMs won't nuke the operators

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Businesses?

What you need there is a foreign SIM, with an operator that has agreements with all your local operators, so it can pick the best available signal.

At least, within an area like the EU where roaming charges won't bugger up such arrangements.

Nick Kew Silver badge

We should have a compatible network infrastructure that space is rented/leased.

Like the railways?

Wow, great invention: Now AI eggheads teach machines how to be sarcastic using Reddit

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Superhuman?

Indeed - my first post on this thread about a traffic warden is a cultural reference,

Indeed, I guessed it was: looks like the only way your post makes sense. Though it didn't seem important enough to google it, since the overhead for me is that little bit more than for an AI.

If I'd thought Reg readers needed me to spell out how it makes my point, I'd have ... well, I'd probably not care enough to participate here in the first place.

Nick Kew Silver badge


Computers have to follow what is being said by whom, the context of the conversation and often some real world facts to understand cultural references.

We on El Reg might aspire to all that, but many humans can keep it up consistently?

Cultural references? I'll get some of them (e.g. Pratchett); others (like things off the telly) are likely to go straight over my head. You (other commentard) will share some but not all of mine.

Real world facts? Fake news! Big grey areas there.

Context? Well, shouldn't the article have put AI expectations into the context of how real-life human intelligence looks? Sorry, weak example, I'm only human.

what is being said by whom? Misattribution is so mainstream it has a whole raft of sub-classes: honest confusion, the generic "they say", deliberate misrepresentation and spin, the strawman, the "Melanie Phillips translation", etc.

Boffins bash Google Translate for sexism

Nick Kew Silver badge

No need to go back to Latin. Modern gendered languages like German, too.

Modern Italian (probably the nearest thing to a direct descendent of Latin) has a different issue. Pronouns are gendered, but take the gender of the object, not the subject. So english "His House" would take a feminine pronoun to match the feminine "La Casa" - the house, whereas "Her Apartment" is masculine.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: What do you want from a translation?

Google comes up with a single translation even if there are many possibilities,

Actually it's better than that. Click on the translation (or individual words or phrases) and it will offer alternatives. Seems like a pretty powerful tool to me, if you care enough to use it.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: It's statistics darling

will be free of human bias


Loosely speaking, we expect AI to aspire to human intelligence. Now you're saying we expect it to avoid - very specifically avoid - one aspect of human intelligence.

I expect the "bias" comes straight from the corpus: it's a statistical best choice. The observation about adjectives looks like pretty strong evidence of that.

A boss pinching pennies may have cost his firm many, many pounds

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Developer PC

10 minutes? Oh, right, others have long-since pooh-poohed that.

Anyone else remember[1] the era when to build gcc, you would bootstrap a skeleton gcc using whatever native or other cc you could find, then use that gcc in a second pass to build the real thing?

My first encounter with gcc, I had to run the first pass with Sun's bundled cc. Then go back over reams of error messages and retry. Iterate quite a few times before I have a working install. And each build wasn't ten minutes, it was an overnight job.

About 30 years ago - when I had "mathematician" in my job title - I played my part in shortening some long jobs, by coming up with better algorithms. A mathematical model to calculate and plot coverage maps, down from over 4 hours to under a minute. Bootstrapping a tracking device (predecessor to satnav), down from 45 minutes minimum to about 90 seconds average to acquire a fix from cold.

[1] Silly question in this forum: of course half of you remember that!

Post-silly season blues leave me bereft of autonomous robot limbs

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Video: a countertenor singing music from Henry Purcell?

Purcell wrote that for bass (it's originally from King Arthur). The second part is the soprano, who tells him to cheerwarm up, which he duly does. Then the chorus of cold people, who all get warmed up by the power of love.

I have fond memories of that. Of warming myself up with a soprano I met in the student choir where we both first encountered that music. The next piece we did was Carmina Burana: a real soundtrack for that part of our education!

Nick Kew Silver badge


40 years of online crime

I struggle to think of examples of online crime that old. Pranks, well, almost, but ...

Do you speak from personal experience, or are you taking a flexible view of the definition of crime?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Those space hoppers don’t inflate themselves, you know.

Erm, why not? That smacks of Technology Fail. Where's your initiative, man?

Pluto is more alive than Mars, huff physicists who are still not over dwarf planet's demotion

Nick Kew Silver badge
IT Angle

Steady on! What if our elected rulers notice, and start arguing about plexit, or getting their knickers in a twist over definitions of antiplanetism?

Dear America: Want secure elections? Stick to pen and paper for ballots, experts urge

Nick Kew Silver badge

Outdated report

I expect they had already compiled the dossier before it emerged that the Russian Trolls are really Michigan Democrats and Oracle-backed campaigners.

Feel the shame: Email-scammed staffers aren't telling bosses about it

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: @adnim - Tech Savvy Millenials

Not deluded. You were already deluded, so you're not on the verge of becoming that. Like the rest of us, really.

Gosh, is that really the time?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Tech Savvy Millenials

Sweeping generalisations about groups are stupid, there are idiots in every generation

With you so far - and upvote for the core of a good point. Please be consistent, and don't lose sight of that when it's some other poor buggers taking undeserved flak.

but currently it's popular for millennials to be the whipping boy.

Not really. It's just that you tend to notice negative stereotypes much more when they're directed at your own cohort.

Generation X were referred to as "slackers" by the Baby Boomers

Huh? Who the **** told you that?

As for the article, I'm really not suprised that millennials are the ones most often successfully targetted.

The article didn't quite say that: rather that one in ten of you has fallen victim or knows someone who has. That could easily just be down to different patterns of communication (you younger folks more often get to hear of cases), and different interpretations of "someone you know".

Activists raise alarm over insidious creep of surveillance in the UK

Nick Kew Silver badge
Big Brother

Re: As a kid in the 60's

That was the era of the cold-war spy thriller - and your parents had lived through total war. Gadgets galore. Anywhere you went, someone might be spying on you with a hidden camera and/or microphone.

I grew up without ever feeling a secure sense of privacy.

A flash of inspiration sees techie get dirty to fix hospital's woes

Nick Kew Silver badge

@Dan Holdsworth

That after-lunch period is the siesta hour, when the body naturally slows down and wants to sleep. Lunchtime booze might reinforce that effect, but is unlikely to be the primary cause of what you saw.

And I say that as someone who doesn't touch booze until evening (not even free booze) so no personal position to defend.

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