* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

Data science before algorithms, declares Bosch's new top techie

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"Heinrichs joined Bosch four months ago"

He seems to be an ideal fit with the company that brought us the S/W for "Dieselgate".

Voice assistants are always listening. So why won't they call police if they hear a crime?

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Re: False positives

"Google would only go and commercialise that, telling you where you can buy shovels, bags of lime and old carpet."

You sound as if you're having problems with your boss. Do you want to buy a cattle-prod?

Hubris, thy name is Oracle: So, cloud is still totally for nerds, right?

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Re: Call me a cynic..

"Somebody Else's Server"

Also Somebody Else's Profit. Did anyone else notice the line in the article about DropBox's IPO; the one where they said how much they saved by building their own DCs instead of using AWS?

Intellisense was off and developer learned you can't code in Canadian

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Re: I've never quite understood

"should be call it CE (Commonwealth English) ?"

No, just call it "English" and call the alternative "wrong".

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Re: I cannot be the only person

"Colour on some dialogues."

And, of course, the dialogues have to be implemented by dialogs in the program that your company uses to implement its programmes.

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"How else do you spell colour?"

And how else do you spell background?

Hubble Space Telescope one of 16 suffering data-scrambling sensor error

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Re: Generation X

Nice one, Korev.

OpenBSD releases Meltdown patch

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Re: Still concerning ...

"So yeah, MAYBE Meltdown can be patched in microcode. Unless you've heard different from Intel."

AIUI initially Intel were saying it couldn't be fixed in microcode. Do they still say that?

Batteries are so heavy, said user. If I take it out, will this thing work?

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Re: Land Rover MK2

"police/Customs had one tank full of white diesel to dip and check that yes, it was legal road diesel. The vehicle actually was usually run off the other tank, the one with agricultural red diesel in it."

And I'm quite sure the police/Customs know about that one.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Thats right up there with

Ah, yes, mini CDs or rectangular "business card" CDs pushed into a trayless optical drive.

SiL: My laptop won't open the mini-disk. I assumed she'd got hold of one of those critters. The "mini-disk" was an SD card. Some junk that had been installed had taken over the SD slot. Bloody Windows.

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Re: At John Brown...

"designed so those UI coders had to use their own designs as half blind, half deaf, twitchy fat fingered like they were 100 years old."

On a similar note I'd like the eejits who specify those folded plastic bags on a roll for vegetable aisles be condemned to spend a week opening them whilst wearing thick woolly cloves and wearing specs that won't let them focus closer that about 60cm. I don't know if it's some feature of static but my fingers seem to make the bastards cling ever more tightly shut whilst SWMBO's cause them to open in a fraction of a second.

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Re: Electrons

"Well there are many analogies between electricity and fluid flow."

The trouble comes if you've explained that it flows from the positive to the negative - and then carry on to explain a valve.

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When we rolled out a load of dumb green screen terminals, they insisted on referring to them as "the computer".

Not unreasonable. When they enter stuff at the terminal they are, after all, entering it into the computer. Likewise when they get information displayed on the terminal they're actually getting it from the computer. The dumb terminal is just the part of the computer they use to access the rest of it.

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Re: Hmmm :(

She can use a PC and her smart phone - but it is interesting that she will always avoid anything technical with "I don't understand technology". In a house where meal times are often discussions of technology and science.

Perhaps the delay in providing her with a PC wasn't a good idea.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Two stories:

"Those have a SPSU in each socket, so not really a 12/24V distribution system."

The OP was a recommendation of a 12/24v as a response to the need for 5v supplies. Use of the existing mains distribution to provide the low voltage at point of need obviates the need to add a whole new system in parallel to that already existing.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"There were vi clones around at the time."

There certainly were. I had one which was such an exact clone it needed a c:etc\termcap file.

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"On the LandRover MK1 you had to remove the cushion on the driver's seat - and there was the petrol tank cap."

MGB batteries - two of them, 6v each, were under the rear seat, either side of the transmission tunnel.

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Re: Two stories:

"With so much modern electronics having external power supplies these days, commonly providing 12V or 5V to the device, there is an argument for having a 24V or 12V distribution system within the house."

Mails sockets with ancilliary 5v USB supplies seem to be a thing now.

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Re: Two stories:

Curate: "I need to hold a microphone when I'm baptising so-and-so."

Has nobody taught these people to project their voices. What did they think preachers did in the days before PA equipment?

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Re: Two stories:

"Coz from what I understand DC shocks can a lot harder on the system and require a lot less current to kill you."

Old portable valve radios had 90V batteries. I've given myself shocks from those a few times. I seem to have survived.

IT peeps, be warned: You'll soon be a museum exhibit

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Re: Very true...

"No surprise then when I got tapped for "redundancy", at the age of 50."

Timing is everything. It was '86 when I switched into IT. You could do that in your 40s back then. It took me through to 2006 when it was time to really retire.

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Re: Very true...

"Until you realize your backup's shot, too. It's hard to come up with a backup backup plan."

Very true. Actually IT was sort of the backup backup. The previous job was a stop-gap until I could get into what I really wanted to do but it just went on too long - about a dozen years too long. So when I ran out of IT it was time to retire.

When they talk about working life extending into the 70s or whatever it becomes a serious problem. I suspect there's nothing I'd have been able to stick for more than 20 years.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Taxi for BOFHs

"5 BOFHs have been replaced"

Clearly not real BOFHs. A BOFH, like the cockroach will survive any catastrophe. Unlike the cockroach he'll cause cause the catastrophe in self-defence.

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Re: IT Managers have already been replaced

"Suggestions please for the collective noun for a group of IT Managers?"

An excuse?

An error?

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Re: Very true...

"Everyone should have a backup career option just in case."

This is the best career advice anyone could give. Not only does it provide a backup to obsolescence, it enables you to escape the any frustrations that build up in your first career.

IT was my backup.

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Re: Strangely enough

" a 500-entry error report forty minutes later."

It was a pity Unix was still some way into the future. Compilers really needed to filter error reports through head.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"For some reason it seemed really cool to fish failed-test microchips out of the reject bin, saw the top off with a Stanley knife, then if you put them under the fiche reader you could actually see all the registers and gubbins in the chip just like on the hacker movies."

Stuff the movies, this was real life:

We had a new IED control board in for examination. As per normal the IDs were scratched off the ICss. Our resident electronics guy was pretty good at working out what they were from the surrounding circuitry (usually 74 series TTL plus 555s). But on this device there was also one of those ICs in a little metal can. That was a bit of an unknown. We cut the top off the can then I set up the big Zeiss microscope for incident illumination and read the part number straight off the die. I remembered seeing it advertised in WW. The complete operation if the device was analysed in about an hour.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

"You got one compilation run a day in those times."

You were hard done by. We got 3. You were even harder donw by. We used FORTRAN.

When clever code kills, who pays and who does the time? A Brit expert explains to El Reg

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"the grunts on the frontline can only be accused if it proven there were working out side the design brief otherwise it is the people at the top that cop for it as it was their design and signoff, its why they get paid the big bucks."

If the grunts on the front line are working outside the design brief it's still up to management to discover that and not sign it off until it's fixed. Whoever signs off carries the responsibility, or at least the company does as they're signing off on behalf of the company.

Weaselling out by passing the blame lower down cannot be acceptable.

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"Who's fault that is that"

The vendor who allowed the revised drivers without full retesting. If it goes to the consumer it's the vendor's responsibility for the whole package. If they think a supplier is to blame that's an issue for the two of them but to the customer and the public there has to be a single, easily identifiable entity responsible.

If it's something deployed as a service then the same thing applies, whatever entity decided it was fit for deployment is responsible.

Do we need some sort of escrow arrangement to avoid vendors escaping responsibility by winding up the business? Certainly. A bond or a one-off insurance for the life of the product. Whatever.

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Re: Specifications

"While the vendor should be liable for their product, what if the product is bad due to poor or incomplete specifications?"

Still their problem.

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Re: Accountability is important.

"If there is a patent, it should DEFINITELY be the patent-holder."

You're assuming a single patent-holder. If there are multiple patents from multiple patent-holders the plaintiffs will die from old age waiting for it to be resolved. The lawyers will do very well from it, however.

There has to be a single, easily identified entity carrying full responsibility.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Some cars are better, some cars are less good."

Essentially I insure myself to drive. If I'm an 18 year old I have to pay more. If I accumulate a lot of bad driving history I pay more. I can't actually do anything about the first of those except grow older but I can about the second. If I buy a self-driving car then I have no input at all into the quality of its driving ability nor any way to assess it*. If the vendor sells me the vehicle as being fit for use then they should have satisfied themselves that it was and accept liability if it wasn't; that liability can and should then be covered by their public liability insurance.

*At least not as a consumer. A manufacturer buying the self-driving S/W as a component might have batter opportunities to test it.

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Re: *A* Brit Expert

"This isn't like today when a vendor sells a product that can be found to be as liable on the day it was bought as when it subsequently went rogue."

If you chose to sell or deploy it, you're responsible. As simple as that. It was up to you as a vendor to decide whether to accept that long-term responsibility. Why should you think you should be able to shuffle that off?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"An AI set up to do the same job could also have such a scenario built in."

To have been included in version 2.0.

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Re: Accountability is important.

" Are they liable?"


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Re: Accountability is important.

"Just as self-aware AI also learns."

The child learns, becomes an adult and is then liable for punishment at law for its adult errors. How do you propose to fine or imprison and AI entity?

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Re: Accountability is important.

"Only when AI has shown itself to be self-aware and competent to at least the level of a human equivalent, should AI be considered responsible."

Underlying criminal law is the notion of punishment; it's what happens on a conviction for breaching the law. AI should only be considered responsible if the concept of punishing it is meaningful. Until then it's whoever is responsible for deploying it who is responsible. Not programming it, deploying it. The programmer may have been working under constraints that prevent proper testing, have been overridden by management or been given a task beyond their capabilities. The buck has to stop with whoever decided that the system was fit to be deployed. It's their responsibility to provide due diligence in making that decision and their liability if it fails. Where to product in which is embedded is a consumer product that decision lies with the vendor: is the product fit to be marketed to the general public?

And, given Kingston's sensible criterion, this applies to any S/W product, not just those which have been given an AI marketing gloss.

Billionaire's Babylon beach ban battle barrels toward Supreme Court

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"Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who didn't want to pick a high-profile fight with a Silicon Valley billionaire over property rights when he himself is running for governor of California later this year."

If public opinion is in favour of access I'd have thought this would have been an excellent fight to pick.

Why isn't digital fixing the productivity puzzle?

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Re: Low productivity

" It's also worth noting that the UK has the least generous unemployment compensation in Western Europe, which in turn drives people into low productivity jobs."

The odd thing about this is that the low-wage strawberry pickers seem to be coming from Eastern Europe. Why is this happening if unemployment pay isn't that good? Are productivity figures ignoring a large black economy?

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Re: Millenials

"The number of graduates per year has more than tripled"

This was one of Blair's departures from reality. He thought that having graduates become half the population would increase productivity without (a) thinking how to re-jig the entire economy so that half the jobs would be what had then been thought of as "graduate jobs"* and (b) coming up with any way of paying for it other than by imposing swinging debts on the graduates. The latter was all pert of the taxing the future approach which included pension funds.

*This was solved, of course, by exporting as many non-graduate jobs as possible to low wage economies. This held down inflation**.

** That's inflation as measured by pretending that housing cost rises weren't inflation.

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Re: If people don't get paid enough money...

"Does the MGI really think that getting people with no money to spend more is an answer?"

Possibly by "stimulating demand" MGI mean "providing them with money to spend".

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Re: Well, there's your problem!

"Management isn't a particularly difficult skill"

Are you sure? Good ones seem to be a rare commodity.

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Re: Well, there's your problem!

"Employing too many people who just sit at a desk and too few who actually do / make the stuff that is sold to your lucky customers."

Some of those people sitting at desks are actually designing the next product - coding, designing H/W or whatever. Of course what they do is incomprehensible to management so isn't important and can be got rid of on the next cycle of managment stuff, i.e. cutting headcount.

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Re: Well, there's your problem!

"10% of the people do -20% of the work"

Where do you work where things are this good?

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Re: Our missing productivity was shifted to China

"Productivity, as it is measured, has nothing what so ever to do with how much work is done, or how much of an actual product is made, only the revenue per hour. As such it is a bullshit measurement."

Quite so. If you increase the output in widgets per hour by 10% and reduce the price to sell more your measured productivity by sales may not rise at all. So have you raised productivity or not? Common sense suggests you have, the dismal science says you haven't. I don't know why you collected downvotes.

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Re: It doesn't take a flashy report with pretty graphs...

"If you pay people badly, they don’t have enough money to buy stuff, so your economy won’t grow."

It also means the market is apt to become price sensitive so prices have to be kept down. If you measure productivity by the overall income you get by selling widgets rather than by the number of widgets you produce then having to keep prices down means that productivity will appear lower. Which raises the question of whether periods of high productivity aren't at least in part, an artefact of inflation?

We all hate Word docs and PDFs, but have they ever led you to being hit with 32 indictments?

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Re: Sympathy for the devil

"el Reg have forgotten the old journalistic maxim"

I think the el Reg's maxim is truth is sacred, comment is free, biting all hands equally is priceless.

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Re: @ Dr Heinrich Backhausen

"But still, it's worth a cheap shot about the price of Adobe software"

Don't you mean an expensive shot?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Well, you see, now there's the problem...

That's the Catch-22 for criminals-if you hire an honest bookkeeper, they refuse to "adjust" the figures, but if you hire a dishonest one, they adjust the figures and then run off with your (cough) money.

So difficult to get good staff these days.

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