* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Programmer finds way to liberate ransomware'd Google Smart TVs

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Re: I'll stick to...

"Since most come rooted I might suggest making a new Google account specifically for your TV boxes to alleviate privacy concerns."

I'll stick to the MythTV box. No Google account needed.

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"I have also come across TV systems in homes and hospitals that inflicted a user interface that would have yielded immediate employment by Microsoft in the days of Windows ME."

As good as that?

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" all programmers (and I am guilty) are unable to write clear instructions ...they find it hard to understand just how clueless are the majority of users."

If you're withholding the clues of course the users are going to be clueless.

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Re: Can be connected to the LAN and still be SMART

"so if it's in the public mindset, how come the associated risks aren't?"

It's in the public mindset because the manufacturers advertise "smart". Do you really think they're going to advertise "that means it can be pwned"?

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Unhappy

"as appliancey as possible"

These days that means apps.

Networks in 2016: A full fibre diet for UK.gov

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Re: An easy first step

"After spending avg. 300K-500K. plus on a brand new build, are you really suggesting new homeowners want a pair of copper wires from BT just so they have a matter of choice?"

You're showing a serious reading comprehension here.

Firstly who mentioned the house price? The Beeb report says "built as a response to meeting local housing needs - especially for first-time buyers." You're making an assumption about the house prices and hence on the income of the occupants on no basis.

Secondly, if there are ducts and they want to pay a monthly fibre subscription they can have fibre. That's choice. If only fibre is installed they don't have choice, they've got to stump up for fibre subscriptions even if they don't need or want Gb service.

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Re: An easy first step

"FTTP should be easy to do with new developments. Instead of laying copper, just lay Fibre."

How are you going to explain to the new occupiers that they're going to have to pay monthly FTTP costs when they only wanted FTTC service and costs?

The suggestion of specifying ducts so the occupier has the choice makes more sense.

‘Artificial Intelligence’ was 2016's fake news

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Re: Wonderful.

what people call "AI" is actually just a search problem. Expert systems are just directed search algorithms

Back in the early '80s we had library materials delivered on microfilm and an online index which took a fairly simple search language - "not" meant "don't give me anything that contains this" etc. AFAICR with a little experience the search would deliver relevant results or report nothing found.

Now we have massive online search engines - Google, Amazon etc - which can't be steered by the user. There's no effective way of eliminating crap occupying maybe the first several pages of "results", dropping inexplicably irrelevant items in the middle of the list or delivering any manner of junk rather than reporting no hits. Several decades of adding "smartness" have simply made search engines work worse.

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Try thinking of chatbots as an alternative interface that everyone can use but that not everyone needs to waste their time.

FTFY

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Re: Meanwhile...

You're repeating a post made 8 hours earlier so I'll repeat my response:

So it reports what they intend to save. How successful it is, including customer satisfaction, remains to be seen.

One remark in the linked article (mentioning other applications) should give them pause for thought: "incidentally, a large benefit of the software is understanding when customers get frustrated with automated systems."

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"I see a pattern here."

Yup. They think they're so smart but we can spot them a mile off. They really should study their audience first.

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Re: The complacency is staggering

"AI won't come with a big bang. People will realise it's here after it's happened (and maybe taken their job)."

What people realise is that when "AI" goes into production it wasn't really anything like intelligence after all. And if it's taken the jobs of the people who were there to supply real intelligence then the business will be that much worse off in the end. What more businesses need is some RI.

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Re: If we're talking about actual AI, the number of jobs lost is zero

"It may impact publishing if a bookshop can do in house POD of one copy for $3, but the mass market would still be volume 25 cent per copy printing."

It's not a matter of bookshops doing PoD, it's PoD displacing bookshops.

There are also cash flow and technical/editorial issues involved in volume printing.

My local history group produces books every year or two. Forecasting print runs is a nightmare. A large print run is cheaper per copy but requires a larger upfront cost which we have to try to extract from our parent society and the consequences of getting it wrong linger with us. We have one book which has quite a substantial stock left years after it was printed but others have sold out within weeks. When we do local history fairs we'd be able to sell quite a few copies of the latter if we still had them but what we actually have are all too often the slow sellers.

I've been trying to persuade them to take the PDFs of the sold out books and make them available for PoD. We could get a few books run off to keep a stock for fairs and also sell online*. We could still do this at a price within shouting distance of the unit costs of our normal print run without having the society's funds tied up in stock.

If we did the entire operation PoD we'd be free of page restrictions - the way that current production works constrains the page numbers to multiples of how many A5 pages fit onto what ever the the size of the stock the printers use which may mean omitting material to meet the constraints.

However this is automation and vastly different to AI.

*Yes, we could sell online now and "all" that would involve would be setting up a website. Unfortunately that's another long running discussion with the parent society. Handing over to a PoD firm would take that off our hands along with all the other aspects of order fulfilment and also provide the cost advantage of local printing vs postage for overseas sales.

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"Well, why should there [be anyone jailed]?

After all, from their (limited) perspective, they did everything right; in other words, they did exactly what it said in their job descriptions."

Given that some institutions were reportedly betting against their own products there would appear to be reasonable cause for someone doing jail time.

And doing what's in a job description doesn't make it legal. "I was only following orders" hasn't been an acceptable defence for the last 7 decades or so.

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"This tech is already storming the production and logistical corner of the economy."

What tech are you talking about here? Numerical methods have been applied in these areas for decades. Is this just the usual marketing practice of gussying up the same old stuff with new names?

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Re: But in 2017 it's real news ?

So it reports what they intend to save. How successful it is, including customer satisfaction, remains to be seen.

One remark in the linked article (mentioning other applications) should give them pause for thought: "incidentally, a large benefit of the software is understanding when customers get frustrated with automated systems."

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Re: Please hold, your call is important to us, the 45 minutes you're waiting aren't

"None, but many a time I've wished they'd just let me access whatever intranet site the call centre people use."

I doubt you'd be any better off, you'd just be reading the same script.

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Re: The chatbots are already here

"If somebody replaced this person with an AI, would I be able to tell the difference?"

Some years ago after my then ISP's previously excellent CS had been outsourced I decided I couldn't tell whether I was dealing with a bot or people. If the latter they'd failed the Turing test.

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Re: AI is as AI does

"Supply and demand seem to indicate that the vast majority of people are willing to accept any old shit in exchange for low prices and convenience and have been accepting of this (or trained into this) for many, many years."

Lack of choice is the more likely explanation. If you're competing with shit then shit, preferably cheaper shit, is good enough.

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Re: Desperate hype

"genuine AI has remained stubbornly out of reach since 1960"

10 years into the future usually covers the case.

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Perhaps it's time to remind ourselves that "artificial" isn't the same as "synthetic" or "real". Maybe "fake" would have been a more accurate term to have used all along except that it wouldn't have attracted research money.

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"In a healthy and competitive services marketplace, bad service means lost business."

After years of racing to the bottom I don't think we have healthy and competitive market places in anything that involves customer service. The result isn't so much lost business as churn and as long as the cost of that is less than the cost of providing decent customer service it's what we're coing to get in the future.

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Re: AI is as AI does

"And if your coffee-pourer person suddenly becomes a metal box"

Those functions have been interchangeable for years. The metal box is called a vending machine. You don't speak to it, you just press buttons and insert money. I don't know about the coffee but the tea option is usually execrable.

Hate 'contact us' forms? This PHPmailer zero day will drop shell in sender

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Re: Small Business

"Contact forms are still a very good and valid facility for local businesses"

Particularly those that include a number for a phone that's answered by someone who knows what they're talking about.

Libpng library gets fix for truly ancient bug

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Coat

From the Mozilla bug list

"CVE-2016-9904: Cross-origin information leak in shared atoms"

Quantum processing in Thunderbird!

Mines the one that got entangled.

Elon burning to get Falcon back on the launchpad

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Re: Oxygen is not flammable

"I'm guessing that something else, like the resin in the composite lining, is flammable when it's in an oxygen-saturated environment."

True, but saying that the oxygen ignited is sloppy writing although no more so than one might expect from a PR-written press statement.

Yorkshire council hit with prolonged web outage

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Re: Forced to close?

"Maybe it doesn't, but it does mean that residents don't know when they are going to come round, as the schedule tends to change over Christmas."

Actually the schedule for next year was distributed to households before Christmas & includes the changes.

The site, BTW is back up and as daft as ever. For instance http://www.kirklees.gov.uk/beta/your-property-bins-recycling/your-bins/default.aspx?transaction=bin-collection-dates brings up a search form with two fields. The name/street number field is ignored, you have to put in a post code and it then displays a radio button list for each property before it will tell you the collection date - which is extremely unlikely to be different for two properties in the same post code.

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Re: Forced to close?

"Each consultation is independent"

Independent? Pull t'other, it's got bells on it.

You're right, of course. And if you live in the Colne or Holme Valley HRI isn't easy to get to in the rush hour either. A hospital with an A&E at the old St Luke's site would have been better but I suppose they've sold that off by now.

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Re: Tha's not in't cloud lad...

"Thee's frum Plusnet support"

Does nobody here know basic English grammar? It should be "Thar't fro' Plusnet support".

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Re: Forced to close?

"That will explain why all the local A&E departments are being closed down."

Separate organisation and separate issue. That's the Kirklees and Calderdale NHS trust.

There's a common underlying trend, however: lumping together areas that don't actually belong together.

Kirklees was a piece of miscegenation from the 1974 reorganisation of local govt. Someone decided to get rid of the old West Riding County Council and the various Urban District Councils etc below them who had a fair idea of what they were doing and replace them with a single layer which they constructed from Mirfield and Huddersfield, two separate communities which had had relatively little in common except being neighbours and which, collectively, have maybe even less in common with the valleys upstream from Huddersfield and which are also part of this administrative monster. Some idea of the quality of thinking which went into this is indicated by the name they gave it: there really is a place called Kirklees and it's in Calderdale. If Kirklees Metropolitan Council ever had any real value it's long gone. The whole unwieldy mess should be broken up.

The creation of the NHS trust was a piece of financial engineering inflicting on HRI (Huddersfield Royal Infirmary) something similar to what happened to Ferranti. The hospital in Halifax had a huge PFI debt and was financially unviable so it was merged with HRI which had a valuable site. It's not just A&E being bled away from HRI; SWBMO's eye clinic is now in Calderdale, maternity services are in Calderdale, hip replacements are in Calderdale...

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Re: Forced to close?

"Kirklees, i am told, is one of the most deprived areas of England. The nine strong ( all Labour) cabinet are doing their very best."

The cabinet, whilst invariably crying t'poor tale as an excuse for shutting libraries and museums, had money to spaff on the likes of the Tour de France. I doubt that many council tax payers here and in the other councils that "invested" in such vanity projects realise that we paid the promoters rather than vice versa. We're then told how much money this brought into the area, none of which seems to have actually benefited the community as opposed to the few businesses that profited.

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Since then the council has been unable to provide much of a digital service to its residents

FTFY

Amazon files patent for 'Death Star' flying warehouse

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Re: I know I'm a sucker, but...

"Anvils."

Made by Acme of course.

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Re: Not covered in tat

"To be honest, I hope this gets shot down before it ever takes off."

Bernard Woolley would like a word with you.

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The possibility of an accident doesn't bear thinking about. Whole urban areas covered in tat.

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Re: if one of these...

"have we suddenly all become stupid overnight?"

No, it's just that you've suddenly noticed it.

The Register's Top 20 Most-Commented Stories in 2016

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Re: Predictions ...

"Brexit will happen, for reals this time. And it won't be as good as the supporters said nor as bad as the dissenters said."

In 2017? Article 50 might be triggered then but the actual Brexit will take another 2 years. It's a slow motion train crash process. Just wait.

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Re: To sum it all up

"which will make you really, really hope he's wrong."

His prediction of a King George IX shows he's got a poor grasp of either C20th history or Roman numerals - or maybe both.

2016 just got a tiny bit longer. Gee, thanks, time lords

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"9 - 8 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 - wait for it - Happy New Year."

Their actual solution was to count 1 twice.

Then the London Ambulance Service's system crashed. Coincidence?

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Re: I don't see what the fuss is about

"It just doesn't set the RTC to UTC because it doesn't really have to"

Which makes it a poor neighbour on a dual boot machine. I'm not sure how this stupidity works on a portable device taken across timezones.

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Re: I don't see what the fuss is about

"historically UNIX has handled time in a sane and correct manner ...However windows has had pretty poor ways of doing things"

What you forgot was that the A/C obviously comes from the Windows world where everything from Redmond, BSODs & all, is perfect so the Unix way must be wrong.

Folders return to Windows 10's Start Thing

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Re: With the exception of the Master Race...

"you still have to pay the $100 MS tax when you buy a PC laptop even if you want to put "Free" Linux on it"

Not universally true but you'll generally find that the MS-free pox is dearer because the additional crapware that's normally installed with Windows offsets the tax. And you're going to blow away all of it anyway so who cares?

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Re: Unbelievable

"@Doctor Syntax - Xfce"

Sort of OK but somehow I always find myself replacing it with KDE. Unless they've changed it Xfce seems to have its own opinion about where icons sit on the desktop and it doesn't always agree with mine.

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"Excel rules all software for all time, QED."

Was that you using Excel as a todo list in the recent story about the migration that went well? (As in down the well).

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Re: "It’s a mystery why Microsoft..."

"somebody at Microsoft decided that GUI design was now a religion"

They so it working so well for Apple.

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Re: Unbelievable

"Can you imagine Windows 95 going at the speed of today's hardware?"

KDE

Flight simulator sets fire to airport

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"My best mom was like. I did not believe."etc

English translation needed.

Barcodes stamped on breast implants and medical equipment

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'surgery on the wrong part of the body'

These boobs were meant for walking?

The Life and Times of Lester Haines

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Lester Young - Pres - was one of jazz's greatest tenor players, not a trumpeter.

Did EU ruling invalidate the UK's bonkers Snoopers' Charter?

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Re: Still debating the same points, again

"amend the act to included the safe guards that any data retained can only be accessed on the production of a Judge's court order."

Not enough. Amend the act so that the data can only be retained on the production of a Judge's order. The objectionable part of this is that it disregards the presumption of innocence.

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