* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

RED ALERT! High-speed alien fugitives are invading our Milky Way

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"National Astronomy"

Isn't that a bit short-sighted?

Are my specs in this pocket?

Windows Insiders with SD cards turn into OneDrive outsiders

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Re: An insider build.

"So, technically, a beta, not a release copy?


Methinks the insiders protest too much."

The purpose of a beta test is to get users to report bugs. Unless you're just pottering about you don't turn round and tell the bug reporters that that's what it's supposed to do.

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Re: Uninstall OneDrive

"They are for the company I work for and the company my partner works for. ... the small bubble that is the Reg"


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Re: Uninstall OneDrive

"what one of those gives you 5 installations of Office and 5TB of storage for less than a tenner a month?"

I think you missed the bit that said "represent far less risk and are less keen to lock client data into a proprietary vault".

Microsoft boasted it had rebuilt Skype 'from the ground up'. Instead, it should have buried it

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Re: "This new app is absolutely terrible"

"All I get is the option to remove it - that's not making it better, is it?"

Don't you have an Edit button alongside the reply?

ElReg comment interface can do strange things, however. I can reply to a post, retaining the title and get it rejected because the title's too long. And no, that isn't because a "Re:" has been added.

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Re: Market research

"Ford's faster horse shit."

I thought Microsoft had their own supply of faster horse shit.

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Re: Market research

"Has MS heard of it?"

There's one thing that Microsoft have clearly never heard of; "do one thing and do it well."

Who was it said that?

Boffins' five eyes surprise: Bees correct colour for ambient light

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Re: More importantly...

"something she still believes in wholeheartedly, alongside fairy power and guardian spirits."

And the Guardian? Sorry, Grauniad.

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"Bees are very short-sighted. So they would be typically very near the flower when using their eyes to recognize it."

They have two distinct requirements, one to see the flower from some distance in order to fly to it and the other to navigate the actual structure of the flower.

The plant world, having co-evolved with bees, tends to help with this. Insect pollinated flowers, for instance, are bright coloured whilst wind-pollinated flowers are usually just green. Massing many small flowers to produce a large target is another Compositae and Umbelliferae Asteraceae and Apiaceae being examples. This means it doesn't matter if the bee can't focus well.

Larger flowers can also have distinct* markings to help the bees navigate the flowers' structure.

*Distinct to bees, they might only be visible in the UV.

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"never take photos towards the sun"

Taking pictures toward the sun is such a well-established pictorial technique that it has it's own name: contre jour.

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"A lot of cameras also do automatic white balancing otherwise we'd notice much greater shifts between natural and artificial lighting as you used to when working with real film."

When working with real film printers used to do automatic white balancing based on their assumptions as to what balance the picture should have. Different printers could make complete but different pigs ears out of unexpected subjects such as soil profiles.

PCs will get pricier and you're gonna like it, say Gartner market shamans

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Re: 1080p....

"until Microsoft can figure out display scaling."

Your use case isn't everyone's.

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Re: I call bollocks ...

"PCs are a mature market."

And increasing component prices won't help at all.

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Re: Screen sizes

"Then you get the webites that have gone totally do-lally with vertical whitespace"

Sadly, the bit about vertical whitespace is superfluous. Website designers will go doolally with any and all possible parameters.

Frustration indeed.

New work: Algorithms to give self-driving cars 'impulsive' human 'ethics'

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"When a car pulls out from a turning on your side of the road, for example, many people will instinctively swerve to avoid it, ignoring oncoming traffic with double the impact speed. "

Depending on the road the oncoming car has the possibility of swerving out the way.

What's quite possible, of course, is that the car pulling out will accelerate and catch them both. I've seen something like that except that it was the car that was pulling away from the lights accelerated towards a car that had, through no fault of the driver's, been stranded in the middle of a cross-roads.

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I suspect that in real reality the human driver concentrates on trying to avoid either collision and what actually happens is the failure mode (or success if the accident is actually avoided).

Brit teen accused of running malware factory and helpdesk for crims

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I'm glad it's not just me. I put it down to horrible thin sans-serif fonts and my glasses needing cleaning.

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"An unnamed US citizen has also been charged."

I just read that as "an unarmed US citizen" and then realised there's no such thing.

UK Parliament launches inquiry into NHS WannaCrypt outbreak

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"That someone is the taxpayer, i.e."

You missed out increasing police number.

DeepMind needs to think about the broader implications of its tech – report

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Clinical trials

If a new drug or anything else to do with medical treatment is introduced it has to go through limited trials so that it's results can be compared with controls.

The results of this data mining are being fed back to recommend treatments but so far I haven't seen the phrase "clinical trials" being used in any articles I've read about this. isn't there a formal protocol to make a statistical comparison between the outcomes of Google's diagnosis and those of existing diagnostic methods?

If there were then surely such protocols would include issues such as informed consent.

Time to rethink machine learning: The big data gobble is OFF the menu

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One thing these articles seems to lack is exactly what all this unicorn dust is going to do for businesses that can't be done better and cheaper by other approaches.

I have this vision that, after spending multimillion currency units on analysing multi-petabytes of data, some data scientist rushes into marketing to announce "We can sell more ice-cream in hot weather.".

Nationwide banking suffers its own Black Wednesday

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Total Inability To Systematically Undertake Payments

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Re: Strangely

"They didn't advise customers to use their local branch"

They might then get asked awkward questions such as "what local branch?".

Constant work makes the kilo walk the Planck

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Re: Confused

"Mil" works better in speech terms

Given that it's a vocalisation of ml perhaps Km should be pronounced Kim.

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Re: Confused

"the meter, the liter, and so on"

Here in Europe (including pro tem the UK) we use metres and litres - unless we need a measuring instrument in which case it might well be a meter.

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Re: Confused

"If you grew up with Imperial Units like Terry6 then you're going to think Imperial is better, if you grew up with SI Units like i did, then your going to think SI makes a hell of a lot more sense."

I'm largely neutral. I grew up with Imperial (Dad was a joiner by trade), used cgs at school and SI later. It doesn't really matter although I note that some aspects of Imperial are actually binary - lbs & ounces and the common divisions of an inch (until you get to thous).

I did some evening classes in furniture restoration. It got my pragmatic back up when a tutor would want to measure in metric an item whose maker had worked in Imperial.

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Re: "discovering an increased value for Planck's constant"

"Many other key cosmological values are know only approximately - Hubble's 'constant' to just two significant figures, for example."

I think the significance of this is in moving towards a definition of the unit of mass which is independent of a specific physical object. This has already been done for length and time.

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Re: Confused

"Even decimalisation was hampered by this until inflation took control. £1 was too big for many small transactions and the 1p too small."

1p was actually too big compared with 1d. For small value items rounding up to the nearest d (and when did prices ever get rounded down?) represented quite an inflationary step. Put that together with the dislocation in people's thinking - e.g. how does 16p really compare with 2 / 10d? enabled prices to be put up still further.

It wasn't decimalisation being hampered without inflation, it was decimalisation enabling inflation

Bonkers call to boycott Raspberry Pi Foundation over 'gay agenda'

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Re: Have you visited the petition?

"It rather tempers the desire to see Trump impeached"

Isn't this the Spiro Agnew ploy?

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Taking umbrage is one thing. Positively searching and stealing it is another.

Automobile Association under fire for car-crash handling of data breach

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Taking it seriously

From the Beeb report linked in the article:

AA president Edmund King said it first learned about the problem with data used for its online shop on 22 April. Soon after discovery, the firm that runs the shop on the AA's behalf was told about the problem.

"They identified the vulnerability and the issue was resolved on 25 April," he said.


The AA said it investigated, sampled the data and, because it was not sensitive and only accessed a few times, ended the investigation.


"We take any data issues incredibly seriously and would like to reassure our AA Shop customers that their payment details have not been compromised," said Mr King.

So it took 3 days to rectify after discovery (how long was it exposed before then?) and because it only contained names, email addresses and incomplete credit card information they closed the investigation. I wonder just how casual they might have been if they didn't take data issues incredibly seriously.

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Presumably they'll move on from "No credit card information" to "only a few customers".

One thought equivalent to less than a single proton in mass

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According to the article the head line in New Scientist is "Protons are lighter than thought". El Reg's headline is the opposite: "One thought equivalent to less than a single proton in mass". What was the headline writer thinking of?

America's net neutrality rage hits academia

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"When the authors contacted the other paper's authors, as well as the group behind funding the paper to put their claims to them for a response, they were understandably upset."

I'm sure Kieran knows what he means by "the authors", the other paper's authors" and "the paper" (as in the group behind fund it) but I gave up at this point. What's wrong with the normal academic approach of referring to authors explicitly by name?

One-third of Brit IT projects on track to fail

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Re: In deed

"That's why you build prototypes."

I had a friend who said every time he did that his users complained it didn't have the full functionality. I think there was something in "prototype" that they didn't understand.

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paradigm shift

"You know what a paradigm is, right? How do you propose to shift it?"

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Re: Picking the wrong platform

"I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned picking the wrong software or hardware platform as a reason for failure."

Been there. Worked fine in development and testing. Wouldn't cope with the load. Turned out OK when moved back to a Unix platform.

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Re: Definition of fail

"in the real world a project is really only a failure if the IT director gets sacked"

With some IT directors I'd count that as a success.

Ubuntu 'weaponised' to cure NHS of its addiction to Microsoft Windows

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Re: History repeats itself

"not saying that this is not possible in Windows but it is much more difficult for a perpetrator as they would to get the right person a job in the "windows team" before they can inject the code they need"

As you don't seem to have been reading the news recently I suggest you catch up. Google Wannacry or Shadow Brokers to get you started.

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Re: 'Electronic Patient Records (EPRs), which have a 20-year lifespan'

"I was kind of hoping mine might last a bit longer than that."

Hasn't anybody told you?

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"Remember that the average NHS employee is not going to be very computer literate"

Neither are my even more elderly cousins who nevertheless have made the transition from Windows to Linux. That includes the one who got hit with ransomware on Windows. Her data was recovered with the aid of a Linux live CD and copied back to a new Linux partition on her PC and which she now uses exclusively. Are you saying NHS staff are less computer literate than an 80+ retired hairdresser?

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"El Reg has reported on the city of Munich which after trying to use Linux for years has reverted back to Windows."

I take it you haven't read the thread and seen the various replies to this bit of FUD.

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Re: Not Really Open Source Is It?

"It would be great to make the code available to the worldwide medical community so we could improve heathcare globally."

Let's see. Where might we find it? Let's make a guess at www.nhsbuntu.org

Oh, yes. That looks right.

Now what happens if we click the Download now button...

So. A cross-Europe cyberwar simulation. Of ransomware

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Re: Cloud?

"Though it concludes death from Flu is more in a typical year."

And we're probably due for a pandemic.

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A simulation? Haven't we had enough real ones in the last little while?

Blighty's Department for Culture, Media & Sport gets 'digital' rebrand

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It is the first time I've heard gambling described as "innovative financing to create an inclusive economy"

It more or less describes the National Lottery.

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Bradley said the traditional core of DCMS remains "as important as ever" covering Arts, Culture, the Creative Industries, Sport, Tourism, Heritage, Gambling, boosted by responsibility for civil society, charities, volunteering "and innovative financing to create an inclusive economy".

So she's not so much Minister of Fun as Lord High Everything Else.

Google DeepMind trial failed to comply with data protection – ICO

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Re: And the fine?

"Google needs a fine so it realises that patient data has a value."

I think it realises that quite well without a fine. It might come as a shock to them to discover that privacy also has a value - to the patients.

UK.gov tips £400m into digital investment pot

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"Company goes bump."

Why? Could it be that once the thing's priced up to offer a required ROI the potential punters go "That's nice but not at that price."?

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