* Posts by Palpy

552 posts • joined 11 Nov 2014

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Sorry, Linux. We know you want to be popular, but cyber-crooks are all about Microsoft for now

Palpy

Re: linux users are worthless... and the public-facing servers....

According to the best stats we have (which are not perfect) Linux powers around 96% of the one million highest-traffic web servers on the planet. If you look at the top 10 million web servers, Linux runs on about 70%.

Now, about phone and tablet OSes -- Android (a Linux derivative, of course) and iOS split the market. Windows is not significant.

The point being: Yes, Windows prevails on desktop and laptop machines. On other computers, other operating systems -- mostly Linux or Linux-derived -- dominate.

And hacker crims don't target these other machines why, exactly?

Of course they target them. And there can be handsome payoffs for compromising a server. It's not like Linux is magically super-secure. (Though some distros are built to be easily made secure -- Qubes, for instance.)

Google: All your leaked passwords are belong to us – here's a Chrome extension to find them

Palpy
Pint

@Dropbear, re points of failure and risks

Yes, something like KeePassX can put all your candy in one jar, so if that jar gets stolen and opened then your candy is free for the taking. But the KeePassX database is encrypted, and the bad actors have to get to it before they can steal it and try to break the encryption.

To my mind, it's all about degrees of risk and degrees of effort. For example:

If a nation-state wants your candy, for some reason, then they will get your candy. That's the highest level of attack, but, for most of us, the most unlikely.

If a script-kiddy wannabe is trying to get into your system, you're probably OK with basic security measures -- and you could probably store your passwords in a plain-text file, because the kid won't get onto your machine anyway. Low risk attack, but the attempt is not at all unlikely.

I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, right? There is no absolute security. But for you and me, it's usually good enough to be just a little too hard to crack.

I agree, too many accounts and too many passwords. So I keep all my "candy" in KeePassX, encrypted with a long password but one with a pattern I can remember. The other passwords vary in difficulty -- the one for my email is crazy long and jumbled, the one for the hiking forum shorter and simpler.

But a password database like KeePassX can also store names, telephone numbers, addresses, account info, and so forth. So I use it like my mum used her address book -- anything I want to remember about stuff goes in there.

Yes, all the candy is in that jar. But I'm less worried about someone stealing and then decrypting that file than I would be if those notes were scattered around various text and spreadsheet files. And I know if I just write them down on papyrus I'll lose them.

That's my two scents.

LibreOffice patches malicious code-execution bug, Apache OpenOffice – wait for it, wait for it – doesn't

Palpy

Re: Excessively large spreadsheets...

Yes. Older versions of Office had a fairly stringent limitation on rows. That was much eased at some point. I would not be surprised if Libre and Open Office still have similar limits, but I haven't tested it.

Well, huge spreadsheets are unwieldy, whether in Exel or Libre. No way around it. Sometimes if you just want a simple calc on a column it's ergonomic to use a spreadsheet application, though.

When I was still working, large -- million-line -- data sets were mostly useful to me when visually scanning for patterns or anomalies. Trending large data sets in Excel is worthless. Worthless. You can wait 5 minutes for a big trend to refresh when you zoom it. I used KST2, which trends multi-million line csv files beautifully, and allows virtually instantaneous zooming and scrolling.

Our data guy expressed vituperative hatred for Excel, and used profession stat analysis tools exclusively.

But one does what one must. Sometimes one does not want to learn a complex new application just to do one thing.

Palpy

Re: Tried Libre ... screenshots.

Hm. I embed a whopping lot of images, including screenshots, but all are cropped and notated and therefore saved as jpg or png. Or pdf. No problems with LibreOffice there, images clear and sharp.

Before I retired I created a lot of docs with images, but there again, they were more or less elaborately notated and altered using other programs.

Grumble Pai: FCC boss told by House Dems to try the novel concept of putting US folks first, big biz second

Palpy

Re: Robocalls.

Yes, well, this would require some retooling, as noted by other commentards.

I get maybe a dozen robocalls a day, mostly from scammers pretending to be affiliated with Marriot or Hilton hotels. Always "from" different numbers, and obviously not a connection you can call back to.

So the first step is obviously to disable phone number spoofing. Good luck getting that done effectively and in a time frame that is not measured in geological ages.

Of course, if you could phone the scammers back, some good folks would make it their business to tie up the scammer's lines indefinitely. Under the current system, that is not possible except in the rare case where the robocaller is naively allowing the real number for their call center to show up on the annoyed party's phone.

FCC: Oh no, deary me. What a shame. Too bad, so sad we can't do net neutrality appeal during the US govt shutdown

Palpy

Re: @ Big John

Yes... I would probably write corporations will "nearly always" act against the public good in order to maximize profits, not "usually". But good point: there are some corporations which have actually behaved well in that respect.

But: "In fact, isn't this sort of public shaming of corporations a primary tool of politics because it IS so effective?"

It isn't effective. Tobacco smoking and lung cancer were linked by the late 1950s. Remember when Philip Morris finally admitted that tobacco smoking can cause cancer? October 3, 1999. Of course the public shaming involved -- being shown to be promoting a product which kills human beings -- caused them to stop advertising cigarettes.

Not!

Wherever it is legal to do so, Philip Morris continues, in 2019, to advertise cancer sticks. Even next to schools and in youth venues.

And repeated public shaming has certainly caused Facebook to stop gathering and selling user's data, hasn't it?

Again: Not!

Public shaming doesn't stand a chance against the lure of profit.

Even laws have a hard time of it. Corporations often evade regulation in order to increase profits. You'll recall that the the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement and the Coast Guard compiled a report on the Deep Horizon oil spill, and found that BP had broken seven separate regulations which should have prevented or mitigated the disaster. Complying with safety and hazard-mitigation regulations already in place would have cost BP money. And so they didn't.

Now, whether an ISP should profit from throttling customer traffic for Hulu and greasing the speeds for Netflix, because Netflix coughed up the proper protection money, is less about public safety than was Union Carbide's failures at Bhopal. "Public good" is a moving target. Once it was about rural electrification, and then about interstate highways. Maybe it is now about the internet?

Whatever. I use very little bandwidth, and it amuses me to imagine Comcast as Doug Dinsdale -- "Noice streaming movie sarvice ya got thur, be a shame if it got throttled or sumpin'..."

Palpy

Re: Why "net neutrality?" Simples.

1. It is not the job of any corporation to evaluate and act for the public good. It is their job to make the largest possible profit for owners and shareholders.

Obvious corollary: corporations will always act against the public good when there is profit in doing so.

Historically, this is accurate. Phillip Morris' decades-long attempts to keep customers from knowing that cigs are really cancer sticks is an obvious example. Ditto Ethyl Corporation's decades-long attempts to hide the neurotoxic effects of the lead exhausted from tetra-ethyl anti-knock gasoline. Corporations running phone services made money selling customers private information without customer approval or knowledge. Congress told them, "That's wrong and bad, stop doing it." The corporations agreed to stop. But they did not stop selling private info, because it makes more profit for them. And so on.

2. It is, in the US, the job of the government to safeguard the public good. (All citizens have rights, and "Governments are instituted among men ... to safeguard these rights".)

Logical conclusion: since it is known that corporations will violate the public good in order to profit, and since it is the job of governments to safeguard that same public good, then it is prudent for governments to make rules proactively to forestall erosion of the public good -- say, by selectively throttling customer's internet access based on payments from content providers.

That's why.

Happy Thursday! 770 MEEELLLION email addresses and passwords found in yuge data breach

Palpy
Coat

Lazy sods, those hackers.

According to haveibeenpwned, none of the passwords I use have been compromised. What a letdown. Granted, I only checked the ones I deem important, but still. Seems like I would get some damned respect.

Mine's the one with all the passwords on index cards in the pocket.

Facebook's pay-for-more-eyeballs shtick looks too good to be true: Page views, Likes from 'fake' profiles

Palpy

Re: Ad Money, then and now

Then, Wanamaker: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The problem is, I don't know which half."

Now, internet advertiser: "95% of the money I spend on internet advertising is wasted on making fraudsters solvent, and the other 5% just pisses people off. What's the use?"

That said, I did know one person who I think actually paid attention to internet ads, and perhaps even liked them. Odd person, he. Held many strange beliefs. And, to tell the truth, I always liked the Japp ad in which the Rastaman pushes the Porsche over the cliff. But it's Norwegian, and fergodsake it's from last century.

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile US pledge, again, to not sell your location to shady geezers. Sorry, we don't believe them

Palpy

Re: Yes, they're a pack of liars... "clear consumer benefits"?

To be fair, I suppose that someone calling for roadside assistance might benefit:

"Your engine fell out? Where are you located, sir?"

"I, uh, I left Minot North Dakota two hours ago, and I might have taken a wrong turn, and I haven't seen a building for the last 50 miles, and it's dark ... I think I hear wolves howling ... or maybe jackals, or maybe it's Elon Musk, I just don't know..."

Now, in point of fact, all it would take is Google Maps and GPS: "I'm at 45.803669, -103.619935".

But for the less clueful, I can see a possible use case for a responder being able -- with your permission -- to find the geographic location of your phone.

But of course money makes liars out of most corporate CEOs. They did not become CEOs by favoring ethics over lucre.

Hubble 'scope camera breaks down amid US govt shutdown, forcing boffins to fix it for free

Palpy

Re: "Proper Border" security why, exactly?

Because the number of Mexicans living in the US illegally peaked 10 years ago, and has been dropping ever since? (That number is down 20%, from 6.9 million in 2007 to 5.4 million in 2016.)

Because the Border Patrol has seen a huge drop in the number of illegals apprehended at the Mexican border? (That number is down a whopping 81% since 2000.)

Because no known terrorists have used the Mexican border to cross into the US before an attack? (Hint: terrorists attacking the US are either legal residents, or they come from overseas -- in which case they use airlines.)

Because a wall would be worthless in stopping drug trafficking across the Mexican border? (It wouldn't stop boats, aircraft, trains, and contraband hidden in shipments of legitimate goods -- all commonly used methods of transporting drugs. And tunnels are already in use as well.)

Actually, there is no US border crisis in 2019 (other than a temporary crisis created by the Trump shutdown*, which stopped pay to border patrol agents). And the US already has proper border security in the sense that the US has about the same level of border control as any other first-world nation (except Israel, which is... in an odd place historically, politically, and strategically).

What is unconscionable is McConnell's refusal to allow any measure to end the shutdown to come to a Senate vote. That's the tactic of someone afraid that he will lose despite his party's control of the Senate, someone afraid that his Republican colleagues will not stand with him, and someone afraid to let the President take full, formal, and frontal consequences of vetoing a budget resolution. Is the tactic of a coward.

------------------

*Yes, it's Trump's shutdown. His own words: "I am proud to shut down the government for border security," And "If we don't get what we want, one way or the other ... I will shut down the government, absolutely."

Excuse me, sir. You can't store your things there. Those 7 gigabytes are reserved for Windows 10

Palpy

Re: 32GB HP and Linux GUI

"...a GUI Linux is still going to use up a bit of memory."

Yes, but XFCE uses only 100 MB, and LXDE uses about 85 MB. Yes, they can look dated, depending on tweaks and whatnot, but they're functional on low-end bargainware. Of course it varies. Win10 uses what, 1 GB or a bit more at idle? My box shows 1.1 or 1.2 GB on a fresh boot with nothing open except dumb old Task Mangler.

Dark matter's such a pushover: Baby stars can shove weird stuff around dwarf galaxies

Palpy

Re: Slippery dark matter and mass...

Mostly agree with the OP as well. However, a niggle (which the OP and many others know perfectly well): Matter creates gravitational fields (or bends spacetime), but so does energy. And so do fields, including gravitational fields.

(In English: put enough gravitating stuff in one spot, and the gravitational field gets so strong that it creates more gravity, which creates a yet stronger gravitational field, which... ad nauseum -- Dude, my spacetime just collapsed!) (Or, spacetime curvature creates stronger spacetime curvature, etc. Mathematicaly, the field versus curvature approaches give the same results.)

And by writing "in English", I am speaking the wrong language. The language of physics is math. We can write "Mass/energy bends spacetime" but what we really mean is Einstein's Field Equation. Which, when expanded, is "...a system of ten coupled, nonlinear, hyperbolic-elliptic partial differential equations."

I think that speculating in English about gravitation and dark matter is great fun, but unless you can mathematically solve Einstein's interlocking system of partial differential equations, you can whistle all you want but that dog won't hunt. (Or unless you can create a better mathematical description of relativistic spacetime and gravity than Einstein's, I suppose.)

But yes. It is fun to talk.

Crystal ball gazers declare that Windows 10 has finally overtaken Windows 7

Palpy

Re: Android on the desktop

A few years ago I tried Android on a netbook. Very snappy. The app ecosystem wasn't as well developed then, though, and I got bored and put Mint on the machine.

On OS GUIs: Flat-versus-skeuomorphic is not a big deal to me. Puppy Linux has (or had, last time I tried it) the most 3-D, skeuomorphic desktop I've seen anywhere. Quite lovely. For me, as long as I can have an application dock and a hierarchical menu, I can get along fine. But many people want a certain aesthetic look, and that's perfectly reasonable too.

Palpy

Curious about the enterprise situation.

Six months ago (before I retired and moved away), the medium-sized USian municipality where I worked used only Win7. Vague rumors of Win10 being evaluated swirled occasionally. The airgapped automation system had recently (2016, I believe) been upgraded from XP to Win7.

SysTrack wrote in September 2018 that 65% of its customers had migrated to 10; 32% remained on 7 and 3% ran "something else". That single low-N stat would indicate greater migration in enterprise than on users' desktops.

Self runs Siduction, Ubuntu Studio, and Mint, in order of importance. Self's dear wife runs Macs of various vintages. A reconditioned grandpa-box runs Win10 for the sake of a few applications, but it remains airgapped most of the time. It's not very important.

Personally, I find it pleasant to watch Microsoft from a position of relative safety. There is a lot of good to be said about the OS -- and about its rich application ecosystem -- but it seems wise to have alternate platforms running. And to limit the damage the OS can do when it fails, or tries to betray your data to its makers.

Microsoft's 2018, part 2: Azure data centres heat up and Windows 10? It burns! It burns!

Palpy

Re: ... How many MSFT users affected?

I'd be interested in hard numbers as well, but I suspect there are none.

By November 1 Tech Republic reported that, according to AdDuplex, about 2.6% of Win10 users had downloaded 1809. 2.6% of the Win10 userbase might be around 16 million users, opines TR.

But, "...some say that AdDuplex numbers are not representative of regular Windows 10 users", so TR claims perhaps 10 million users had downloaded 1809.

One of the borks involved only Intel's Skylake or later processors, so for that flaw, you'd need to know how many of the (very roughly, quite maybe) 10 million machines had Skylake. Call that X%.

But wait -- do we even know if all Skylake-equipped machines were borked? I think not, but don't know. So Y% of failures has to be attached to the equation.

For just that particular flaw.

And I have run out of steam. That's the kind of BS you could run on all the different 1809-related flaws. Very mushy, very approximate.

London's Gatwick airport suspends all flights after 'multiple' reports of drones

Palpy

Some uninformed guesses:

No, not Russians or Chinese. Or aliens. Or a dark government conspiracy, nor Greenpeace-style activists, nor anti-drone false-flag operation. Not terrorism.

The airport shutdown is not accomplishing any clear strategic goal, it seems to me. It's harassment.

IMHO and uninformed guess: it sounds to me more akin to arson or vandalism. The motive may be power-tripping (look how smart and powerful I am!) or perhaps disgruntled-employee revenge.

Quite nasty wake-up on the topic, though, and very likely to encourage copy-cat acts.

One year on after US repealed net neutrality, policymakers reflect soberly on the future

Palpy

Regulation, corporations, and the public good

Well, I imagine that given no regulation, ISPs may work out service plans similar to cable television -- if you want to play WoW online, then you will either need a subscription which includes that service or you will have to put up with a high-latency, low-bandwidth connection. Want to stream Hulu? You will need to buy that service package from your provider. Maximal profit would be served if Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon were offered in separate packages, each priced separately. Similar packaging would be offered for gaming, I suppose.

Do you think that Comcast and Verizon would never shove that down your throats? Dream on. It works for cable TV, despite the fact that consumers hate it. But consumers have no choice. And most home internet users have no choice of ISP, either.

Why hasn't it happened yet? Because the internet is much younger than television, and the service niche is still evolving.

Corporations have one intrinsic mandate: to maximize profits. It's unrealistic to expect them to maximize the public good instead. This suggests a general rule: if a behavior destructive of the public good will be profitable, then a corporation will act contrary to the public good unless forced -- by law, by regulation -- to do otherwise.

This is supported historically. The Ethyl Corp knew fairly early in the twentieth century that the lead compounds they sold as gasoline additives were toxic. Early mishaps in their own plants resulted in poisoned, debilitated employees. But they denied lead's toxicity, and tried for decades to destroy researchers who showed that lead is a neurotoxin.

If a practice is profitable but harmful to the public, then a corporation will harm the public in order to profit.

Net neutrality? Not on a par with peddling tobacco or leaded gasoline, nor with hazardous workplaces or food contamination. As with cable TV, you can simply choose to go without high-speed streaming or gaming. And you may be healthier and happier for it... ;)

So perhaps the FAA action (or refusal to act) is unimportant. But I suspect that, in a few years, USians will look back to the days of open internet access with a certain amount of nostalgia.

Vitamin Water gets massive publicity for new flavor: Utter BS

Palpy
Pint

Although I never watch television at home --

-- I'm with relatives for the holidays, and I saw this ad. It was unclear from the context, but I assumed that only one person would be chosen to get the cookie.

The beverage itself is a rather pallid concoction of fruit juices (not enough for flavor, really, just enough to add color) and sugar. The "Zero" variety is sweetened with stevia and a tiny bit of fructose. Overall, the low-cal variety of the drink is a better choice than sweet tea or bottled "lemonade" if you're on the road and can't drink a sensible, healthy beverage such as beer.

Linux.org domain hacked, plastered with trolling, filth and anti-transgender vandalism

Palpy

Re: @ Mr. Benny: "Its their actual biological sex" and so on.

I really wish I hadn't written that "if you reply" comment. It is condescending. Supercilious. Snarky. That's my my mental quirkiness showing up. I failed to control it.

Yes, everyone is different from the average. However, you're confused: I didn't write that conservatives as individuals differ from the average. I wrote that, as a group, conservatives on average differ from other humans. If a group is different on average, it means that most members of that group have a difference which sets them apart from the rest of humanity. Or at least the "rest of humanity" which has contributed to the averaging!

For example, political conservatives as a group have relatively enlarged amygdalas. The amygdala is the seat of threat perception, anxiety, fear, anger, aggression. Liberals, as a group, tend to have more gray matter in the cingulate cortex. The cingulate cortex is the seat of empathy, reward motivation, other stuff. (All this is approximation -- lots of things figure into emotions, but seen in MRI these brain areas are more active under these conditions.)

Personally, I would judge the language you use in your post to be lacking in empathy ("...then tough, that's the way you're perceived" and so on). Blame it on more active amygdala, less active cingulate cortex? Well, that's too simplistic. But on average there is a correlation.

Yadda, yadda.

Nothing I write will change your thinking. It can't.

And if you've been paying attention, you may have noticed that I have stepped in front of the bus several times. Because nothing you write will change my thinking either. We're the same.

I (probably) have a slightly enlarged cingulate cortex; and my neocortex "outvotes" my insular cortex relatively often. Meaning I'm not especially disgusted by "a dock worker in a wig", and I'm likely to be interested in his experiences.

So what? None of this is intrinsically "good" or "bad".

Or is it? Leon Kass, a bioethicist who served in the (second) Bush administration, argued for what he called "the wisdom of repugnance": the idea that disgust is all you need in order to know right from wrong, ethically speaking. And he claimed, I believe, that is how some policies and laws should be formulated -- if it is disgusting, it should be against the rules.

Yeah, OK. So, disgusting to whom? That's one moving target. Pork is disgusting to some people, so should it be illegal? And disgusting at what time? That another moving target. The idea of blacks having the same rights as whites was once repugnant to most whites, so should it be illegal now?

Maybe it's a very bad idea to base policies and laws on an irrational criterion like the emotion of disgust.

We started writing about the way transgender people are viewed, and by implication, how they should be treated under the law -- how they are "expected to behave" by society. You and I cannot agree, because the sum of our experiences, our genetics, our social and cultural legacies, and particularly our brain physiology and chemistry, are different. Just like the experiences, genetics, and brain physiology and chemistry of a transgender person are different.

To my mind, the rules of society need to respect me. Society needs to respect you. And society needs to respect transgender people.

If you read to the end, I salute you. Iron willpower, you've got.

Palpy

Re: "Hopefully" you do some reading.

Try Robert Sopalsky's book, "Behave", for starters.

You see, transgender individual's brain physiology is actually typical of the gender with which they self-identify, not with the gender indicated by their genitalia.

From the above book, page 215:

"Remarkably, studies have examined brains of transgender individuals, concentrating on brain regions that, on the average, differ in size between men and women. And consistently, regardless of the desired direction of the sex change and, in fact, regardless of whether the person had undergone a sex change yet, the dimorphic brain regions in transgender individuals resembled the sex of the person they had always felt themselves to be, not their "actual" sex. In other words, it's not the case that transgender individuals think they're a different gender than they actually are. It's more like they got stuck with the bodies of a different sex from who they actually are."

Calling transgender individuals mentally diseased is very similar to calling politically conservative individuals mentally diseased. Political conservatives also have brain structures which differ, on average, from other people: a conservative will usually have a more developed, active, and neurologically connected amygdala and insular cortex.

A transgender individual's sense of self is, like yours, and like mine, largely determined by brain structure and activity. Neurophysiology is not destiny... but it's hugely, critically influential in a person's conscious and subconscious being.

If you reply to this post, I'll be quite interested in any conceptual or linguistic markers in your wording.

GOPwned: Republicans fall victim to email hack

Palpy

Possible Russian strategies.

Of course there is NO finger pointing at Fancy Bear, the FSB, et al so far in this hack. AFAIK, responsibility is still unknown, at least to the public.

But my understanding is that Russia, in particular, wishes to show that Western democracy is a sham and a lie. Putin would like the world to believe that the US government, in particular, is more corrupt than the Russian oligarchy which he leads. Not to mention the military value of strategically disrupting NATO.*

With that in mind, it makes sense for the Russians to now hack-and-leak damaging information about the RNC. Because Putin is not concerned with delegitimizing a particular party but with US government in general, it makes sense for him to now turn to the Republicans. In the words of Roger Stone, it will soon be the RNC's time in the barrel.

Or, put another way, once once you punch your opponent on the left side of the head, then you hit him on the right.

If Fancy Bear et al were not responsible for the hack, then I'll bet the FSB is already trying to buy the information from whomever has it.

* UNDERMINING DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS AND SPLINTERING NATO: RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION AIMS, US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, March 9, 2017. (PDF)

More readable: Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War, The New Yorker. (Paywalled if you view more than three articles.)

Talk in Trump's tweets tells whether tale is true: Code can mostly spot Prez lies from wording

Palpy

Interesting study, bad subject

I think Trump is not a good liar, nor does he care to be. When he makes statements which are factually, provably wrong, he doesn't really try to justify them. He has said he views these statements as "truthful hyperbole", though there is nothing truthful about them. Trump lies to intimidate, confuse, or (most often) to dog-whistle his base. He doesn't intend deep deception. Nor is he smart enough to carry it off.

It would be a tougher test of the lexical analysis if the researchers used it on statements by Putin, who is, I think, a masterful liar. Putin does lie to deceive. He does it with a chess-players long view of tactics and strategy, and with the smiling lubricity of a master poker player.

Where Trump flaps and squawks, Putin smiles and slithers.

Incidentally: the "all politicians do it" line doesn't work. No politician on either side of the Pond lies nearly as often as Trump lies. He is really exceptional in that regard. It's like comparing a guy who habitually drives on the sidewalks, runs over pedestrians, and smashes into other cars with someone who has gotten three tickets for running stop signs.

LastPass? More like lost pass. Or where the fsck has it gone pass. Five-hour outage drives netizens bonkers

Palpy

Re: Keepass

Cloud vs local: yes, well, I keep a copy of the KeePassXC database on the cloud as well as on my various devices. One more step, but there's no free lunch; the dog had it.

Facebook quietly admits role in Myanmar killing fields – but fret not, it will do better next time

Palpy

Needed: prosocial data diode for amplifier

"...Facebook's role in this crisis has been to act as a hate amplifier and distribution mechanism."

It's not so much "...give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together" as to amplify peoples' desire to scapegoat and eventually murder other people.

Yes, Grandma uses Facebook to keep up with the doings of the grandkids 2000 km away. Yes, flashmobs can sing Hallelujah, but they can also gather to lynch members of the out-group du jour.

So Facebook (and Twitter, Reddit, etc) have tapped into powerful social drives which can easily lead to both good and evil outcomes.

US draft bill moots locking up execs who lie about privacy violations

Palpy

@Big John: "soon the Republicans will start to legislate these issues..."

No they won't. They put ex-Verizon industry shill Ajit Pai in charge of the FCC precisely in order to destroy any effective oversight that agency might have otherwise attempted. Republicans will continue to deregulate, and will not "rein in the tech giants" -- or any other corporate entity.

Pain in the brain! Kaspersky warns of hackable brain implants

Palpy

Re: I have one of these... and at some point ransomeware gets serious.

sqlartist, your device appears not to be controlled over any network. Which is good!

Because imagine receiving this message on your phone: "Mr Houndsputtee, blakhatts groop has taken control of you pacemaker model XXYYZZ. We dont know what setting will make you heart attack. Unless we get 50 bitcoin you will find out!!!"

How many people would pay even if they had not been hacked, because they had no way to be sure?

So forth and so on. Brave new world and all that.

Zip it! 3 more reasons to be glad you didn't jump on Windows 10 1809

Palpy

Re: As one who has been microshafted... and Garmin

Yes, indeed. I too use Windows to run Garmin software. And a few applications for graphics and whatnot, which I suppose would run under WINE. I run Win 10 on a reconditioned HP box from a thrift store, which is all Windows deserves in my household. But it gives me 230 GB of spinning rust, and since everything important is stored on the TB drives of the Linux machines, no worries about space. And for three months now I've been an Old Retired Person, which means "work" is now play. And you thought ORP stands for oxidation-reduction potential...

Gloating aside, I grew wary of Windows when 8.0 appeared. The idea that an OS exists for running applications seemed at that point to have disappeared from Microsoft's ken. It seems that Windows now wants to be a thang, a hip gotta-have-it, just because it is ... cool. We know better, but MS doesn't.

In Windows 10 Update land, nobody can hear you scream

Palpy

Re: Microsoft deliberately sabotaging Windows?

Thanks for correcting me on the "Microsoft's only chicken" line -- I knew as I typed it that it was incorrect. Couldn't resist the phrase, though.

You make good points. But personally, I don't think MS is deliberately breaking Windows in order to justify abandoning the OS later.

Everywhere I look -- banks, hospitals, oil refineries, government offices -- Windows is the OS on the screens. Yes, they could be using Linux. Or Mac. But reasons: Office and legacy VBA, among other stuff like Autocad and bespoke Windows programming. All too tedious to enumerate.

Cloud? AWS > Azure > Google. But it's a three-way race, arguably, with Oracle and IBM and other smaller players baring their teeth and leaping at the buttocks of the leaders.

So, is this a smart strategy: sabotage and eventually abandon one of the Big Things which the company has got in its pocket, in favor of running in a technological horse-race which is far from decided? When it has already lost the phone, tablet, and server horse-races?

(MS Office can't be discounted as a Big Thing, and it is in MS other pocket.)

Personally, I think the current Windows malfunction is down to corporate stupidity when faced with complex problems. I may be wrong, you may be right. Your explanation is elegant. *grin* But I'm not sure MS has anyone capable of elegant long-term strategy in the house.

Sigh. Even with all this brouhaha over Windows, Linux on the desktop/laptop is still stuck at ~2% and Mac around 9%. Depending on which tabulation you choose. Been that way for years. Disheartening.

Palpy

Re: "Is Windows 10 so incredibly different..."

"...that your brain can't cope with the changes?"

Well, I distro-hopped for awhile in Linux and BSD, and my wife runs about four Macs. Two Android tablets. And, like many here, I started Windows at 3.1 (before that, actually, but that was the first graphical interface I ran). I've seen a lot of GUIs, and I can work with any of them if necessary. I could, if I wished, work with Windows 8.0. Or Win 10.

The point, as many have written, is that the OS exists to run applications. Ergonomics dictates that it should do this with minimum distraction, and with maximum clarity. So... an animated live tile for Candy Crush on what passes for a start menu? Really?

Windows hit on an ergonomic GUI in Win 95, and by Win 7 it had gotten quite good. Witness the elements of the Win GUI which have been duplicated in Linux and BSD interfaces.

Personally, though, I really like a Mac-style application dock, and Linux-style workspaces. I usually configure my Linux to add an application dock, and workspaces, if necessary. If I used Win 10 much I would configure it thus as well. But I don't use it much, so Classic Shell is the only mod I've bothered to install on the Win 10 machine.

Frankly, as with Bomba-Bob, the Win 10 flat look is not my favorite. But that's aesthetics, and some of the OSes I've run have looked odd as well. Sometimes the oddity is necessary: the Qubes developers had to find a way to launch multiple VMs from the main GUI, and indicate to the user which of the VMs had certain levels of security. As well as indicating the special-function VMs. (An admirable OS, and I hope their team is successful in selling it as a more-secure option for business use. Perhaps I'll try it again soon...)

But for the most part, this is not about crybabies who don't get their own way. It's about users who have moved past the live-tile toy-store aesthetic, and who therefore appreciate a clean and clear GUI. (And no adware, no sneaky telemetry, no glitchy updates.)

That's all.

Palpy

Re: Yes I understand Microsoft's problem ... and Linux...

"I have been a user for more than six years now, and have NEVER had an update bork the system."

Well, a few years ago I had Manjaro (rolling-release) on a rather nasty little netbook, and it did eventually bork itself after an update. But the hardware was quirky to begin with.

That said, my main desktop runs Siduction, also rolling, and it has never glitched. Other of my machines run various Linux, and they're fine. But I do have one refurbished HP that runs Win 10 -- for limited, off-line purposes.

I get that people need Windows for many reasons, and that not everyone can just flip to Linux. And I get that Windows has to run on a wide variety of hardware. And that it has to run not only legacy software, but also the newest VBScript ActiveX Silverlight UWP framework from Microsoft.

And I get that Microsoft's OS lost in the mobe market (<3%), lost the tablet market (<2%?), is an underdog in the server market (20%? maybe), and has no real presence on mainframes and supercomputers. (For what that's worth.) The OS only dominates in the desktop-laptop market.

So with all that taken, would it not make sense to be letter-perfect when applying updates to the desktop-laptop sector? Does MS really want to choke its only chicken?

The Solar System's oldest minerals reveal the Sun's violent past

Palpy

Re: While we're all being pedantic... And right you are.

The word the writer might have written transmutation instead, I suppose. Irradiated aluminum in nuclear reactors gradually becomes riddled with microscopic helium bubbles, which make it brittle. A previous study examined the 20Ne, 21Ne, 22Ne and 3He isotopes in the Murchison space rock, but in the chondrules and matrix, not the hibinite crystals.

So does science advance, crabwise, groping to separate the signal from the noise at the edges of detection. Good on 'em!

Trump 'not normal' FCC commish reveals amid Sinclair-Tribune mega-media-merger meltdown

Palpy

Re: Trump 'not normal', but are any elected officials "normal"?

Exhibit A: Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon. You've read about him in El Reg columns.

For my money (and vote), he is what an elected official should be.

Some of you really don't want Windows 10's April 2018 update on your rigs

Palpy

Truthfully, Microsoft's update borking --

-- is one of the major reasons I moved to Linux.

I remember... on the road, sitting in a public library in a small town with a Vista laptop which, due to a Windows update, could no longer connect to any wireless network. Can't go online to get patches or drivers, can't research the problem.

Never again. I haven't "learned Linux", just figured out how to use it well enough. If the above situation were to happen now with Siduction or Ubuntu, I now know enough to pop in one of the several distros I have on thumb drives, and zing -- I'm online to troubleshoot the main problem.

Personal user case: I have a Win 10 machine now, but it's a grandpa box with no wireless and it never gets connected to the home network. Windows, air-gapped. It runs a few applications, and if I want something -- Paint.net, say -- then I download it onto my Siduction box, scan the download, and sneaker-net it over to the Windows machine.

Obviously that's a specific way of using the system, and if you need a Windows box for online gaming or collaborative development work, then my approach no work so damn good.

But think about getting a thumb-drive Linux (you can purchase a pre-loaded version pretty cheaply if you don't have the time to do it yourself). Think of it as tiny lifeboat which can't be sunk by Microsoft.

You can take off the shades, squinting Outlook.com users. It has gone dark. Very dark

Palpy
Pint

If you want it. Not for me.

Use cases and aesthetic subjectivity has to be taken as read, here.

That said, dark-theme showed up quite a long time ago as the default in some Linux applications in certain distros, and I (with full-throated aesthetic subjectivity) loathe it. Glad it works so well for some people. Some people love the live-tile stuff in Win 10, too, but to me it's like having brightly-colored cockroaches on my screen, squirming uncontrollably.

However, my involvement with MS Outlook will last, at most, three more days. [cue old-guy laugh] Heh, heh, heh. Beer, because I'm having a retirement party.

Microsoft Visual Studio Code replumbed for better Python taming

Palpy

Re: Visual Studio 2017, no ISO installer...

I noticed.

I work on an air-gapped system (for ... exactly ... 6 more days before retiring) and for quite some time I depended on some stuff written originally in VB6 and then ported to .net. Fortunately, I ported everything to Python a couple of years ago. Python is easy to install on even an air-gapped Windows system; not so much VS. A few scripts to replace the exe files, and I never looked back.

All that said, my coding skills are trivial compared to those of most commentards. I'll shut up now.

Crypto gripes, election security, and mandatory cybersec school: Uncle Sam's cyber task force emits todo list for govt

Palpy

"...creating hardware with backdoors..."

Check! Done. Intel considered harmful (pdf).

Of course that's old news, 2015 vintage. And the undercover OS it describes, Intel's Management Engine, is older still. (And it has an analog in AMD, so don't think it's just Intel.)

The bad news: your hardware is not secure and (probably) never will be. The good news: you're too small a fish to get fried by it. So far. Until someone automates a hack for these secret-OS-under-your-OS codebases.

Microsoft: The Kremlin's hackers are already sniffing, probing around America's 2018 elections

Palpy

Re: Russia and Who else? Talk to the NSA, FBI, et al.

US security agencies involved with international intelligence have unanimously fingered Russia for 2016 election hacks, and to ongoing efforts to disrupt US politics. The article to hand is a footnote, with Microsoft explaining how Russia abuses MS services in phishing attacks.

Parroting Trump ("it could have been anyone") is buying a lie, Yank Lurker. It wasn't just anyone. The NSA fingers Russia. The FBI fingers Russia. The CIA fingers Russia. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the oversight agency responsible for coordinating US intelligence... fingers Russia.

The intelligence reports specifically say that the Russian effort was to discredit and denigrate Clinton, and to boost Trump. Here's the public report from the Office of the Director (pdf). The report is very clear: the effort was to defeat Clinton and get Trump elected. The report is also very clear on the Russian actors which ran (and continue to run) the effort.

Don't buy the disinformation from Fox News, Breitbart, and Trump. The data is in the intelligence documents, not in the mouths of Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson. And the truth has never been associated with anything coming from Trump's mouth. Get facts.

Trump wants to work with Russia on infosec. Security experts: lol no

Palpy

Re: "...stuttering mass of responses..."

Yes, indeed. But like Pavlov's legendary dogs, Trump responds predictably to certain stimuli. That's why there are patterns in his behavior. Irrational, yes. Random, no.

I really did come up with that twaddle about Russian loans on my own. Just now I read George Will's column in the Washington Post in re Trump's subservience to Putin:

"The most innocent inference is that for decades he [Trump] has depended on an American weakness, susceptibility to the tacky charisma of wealth, which would evaporate when his tax returns revealed that he has always lied about his wealth, too. A more ominous explanation might be that his redundantly demonstrated incompetence as a businessman tumbled him into unsavory financial dependencies on Russians. A still more sinister explanation might be that the Russians have something else, something worse, to keep him compliant."

(George Will is one of the few real conservatives left in the American media. It saddens me to see writers like Mark Thiessen grovelling before the neo-fascist reactionary right as if before a serious political philosophy. But I digress. Sorry.)

Jeff Merkley, US Senator from Oregon, opines that it is not money but sex tapes: "It's the standard strategy of Russia when people visit there who are important, to try to get compromising information on them, to set them up with hookers, to tape everything that goes on in their room. So it's likely that they have that." Reffy

I don't agree, because Trump is notoriously dismissive of his own amoral sexual predation. His record of cheating on all his wives with whatever large-bosomed female took his fancy is well known. Frankly, if a tape of Russian prostitutes pissing on a hotel bed were made public, I imagine that most Trump supporters would say "Yeah! You ROCK, Donald! Make America wet again!" And they'd go home and tell their wives to pee on their pillows.

So I don't think that's why Trump grovels before Putin.

Finally, to all those farther down the thread who note that while Putin shot down civilian air liners, annexed Crimea, allied himself with Assad the Butcher, and had various individuals inside Russian and outside it assassinated, America is not exactly a spotless paragon of virtue: well, duh!

That's not the point. The Point is: work toward a Good Orderly Direction. Discourage bad things; encourage good things. When leaders are fuckwits, take notice. When Pol Pot says "we must purge the weak by killing them all" then take notice, yes? When the Prez of the USA pleasures a tyrant, whether it's a tinpot like Duarte or a cunning megalomaniac like Kim Jong-un or a cold psychopath like Putin, then that Prez is a fuckwit. He deserves as much censure as we can heap upon his nasty head.

That's my say. Tough day at work, but I have 10 working days left until retirement. And my passport is current. If it's Kristalnacht in the USA, I may still make it out. :)

Palpy

"I don't think Trump is controlled by anybody..."

I. A. Spartacus --

You may be right. Trump is certainly the most highly-placed scatterbrain in the world right now. What comes out of his mouth may indeed be nothing more than verbalization of the shiny-lights cast by his disco-ball mind. He may have shifting hunches, and no coherent strategy whatsoever.

But his obsequious behavior toward Russia seems to be one pattern. His attacks on Western economic and military alliances which oppose Russian influence seem to be another pattern. I'm not sure why he is behaving this way; it seems politically risky and, of course, strategically stupid. To me, unexplained patterns bespeak hidden purposes.

I respectfully disagree with your characterization of Putin as wanting in long-term strategy, though. I think he is very good at playing a long game. He's managed to rotate between premiership and the presidency for 19 years, longer than most Russian top dogs of the post-Stalin era. I think his strategies for destablizing Western governments were long-planned, have been intelligently and flexibly executed, and will be very hard to counter.

As far as money goes, yes -- Trump's lawyers and accountants have shielded his personal fortune from the business reversals of Trump Organization. However, he may fear:

1. Adding another critical financial reversal to his record. "Six bankruptcies -- call that a deal-maker? Call that a successful businessman? Hah!" Those financial failures sting his ego. Look at the way he pretends they were somehow successes.

2. If Putin had the Russian bankers call in such a debt, it would inevitably become public. Revelation that an American President is massively in debt to an enemy of America may actually start turning Trump's supporters against him. It may even make McConnell and the Republican machine repudiate the President. He may fear that more than the losing money.

So maybe I'm seeing shadows, or misinterpreting the patterns which do exist. It's a show worth watching, though! All the clowns are there.

Palpy
Devil

Tee hee. Trump is to Putin as --

-- cheap hamburger is to a hungry Rottweiler.

Given that "We [the Trump Organization] are seeing a lot of money flowing in from Russia", given that Trump has promised since 2011 to release his tax returns (yes, even before he was a candidate) and has broken all of those promises, given that his "debt-loving" method of real estate dealing has in the past several years given way to a "cash-dealing" method which is unusual in that crowd, I think he has a hidden source of big money. It's Russia.

The autocratic, corrupt, and oligarchic nature of Russian business means that Putin, as top autocrat, can, to a great degree, control the behavior of Russian banks and big-money lenders. If he requires a group of lenders to call in payment on a loan of 500 million, as a "favor" to him, then they will probably do it. Or end up poisoned, imprisoned, or both at once.

And so: Trump did the Helsinki roll-over for Putin because he has to please the Russian gang boss. He attacked NATO for the same reason: he is, under the sheets, pwned by Putin. Why would he say the EU is America's foe? Because he has to show Putin he will cooperate, and deliver whatever he can to aid Putin.

Just guesswork. But if Trump's tax returns were carefully vetted, and all the shell companies and offshore LLCs were unraveled, I'll bet there would be a bunch of threads leading to Russian financial oligarchs. That's Putin's leverage.

And offering Putin "cooperation" with US digital security agencies would be a lovely bit of treason.

US voting systems (in Oregon) potentially could be hacked (11 years ago) by anybody (in tech support)

Palpy

Urrghgh. You mean...

... my mail-in ballot in 2004 may have been compromised in some way on the county tabulation machine? But nobody knows if that actually happened, or if the Bush over Kerry win was illegitimate because of my vote being hijacked by an as-yet undocumented hack?

WELL!

I vote for Ron Wyden. And Jeff Merkley. And in the House, Peter DeFazio ... I must say, I have called upon DeFazio's office three times when in need of aid, and his staff have responded immediately. This actually made a difference in my personal life. Me, personally, mind you!

The USA was not established as a democracy. In the days of the Founders, only about 6% of the population were allowed to vote -- the white, land-owning males, usually. So it is gratifying to me, an heir of these oligarchic, slave-whipping arseholes, when democracy seems to be coming to the USA.

Trump is a setback. I hope it's temporary. But I have a current passport, and Costa Rica looks sane.

PayPal, Google ordered to make suspected pirates walk the plank into freezing waters

Palpy

Re: Imagine being refused...

"Imagine being refused health insurance - but when you ask why, the company simply blames its risk assessment algorithm."

I don't have to imagine. When nerve impingement in my lower back started making my legs go numb, my "insurance" management company -- PacificSource, to name names -- denied the neurologist's request for an MRI. I called them. They said, in essence, "We employ an outside firm to evaluate medical necessity; we do not decide to deny coverage for a procedure, they do. We do what they say, and that's that." I asked for a contact number for that firm, and was told it was not possible for me to speak to them. I got a number anyway, and reached a very flustered young man who said, again in essence, "You should not be calling here. There is no line for patients. Please hang up now."

Point being, faceless, semi-secret entities are already denying health care, without patient input or recourse.

My advice: carpet-bomb the provider. Contact everyone from the Better Business Bureau to your representative in Congress, your state governor, insurance regulators, the HR department in your company (if that's who coordinates insurance coverage), and everyone else you can think of. Do it in writing, do it on the phone. I didn't get to the point of posting scathing YouTube videos about PacificSource, because I got coverage for the MRI first.

Oh, and I'm better now. Thanks for asking.

Kaspersky Lab's move from Russia to Switzerland fails to save it from Dutch oven

Palpy

It's probable that I am too naive to catch the tech here.

Which is to say, I may not actually understand whether the networks and servers physically located in Russia are, in fact, vulnerable to the FSB and, ultimately, Putin. It would seem to my age-addled mind that in a state like Russia -- slipping closer to a totalitarian tyranny than perhaps any time since the death of Stalin -- any infrastructure can fairly easily be co-opted by the State for its own dark purposes.

Yes, it's true that the GCHQ in Britain or the CIA in the US are doing things that are illegal, harmful, and bad. So, I gotta ask: if you were offered a choice between the GCHQ as run in Britain or the FSB as run in Russia, which would you choose? If someone said, you can live under the shadow of the CIA, or you can live under the shadow of the FSB, which would you choose?

Point being, I don't believe it's all the same thing. I don't believe that the Western intelligence agencies, for all their shithead behavior, are as dangerous to "freedom" as the Russian agencies. Whatever "freedom" means to you.

I read this news as Yevgeny Kaspersky's tacit admission that as long as his servers, networks, and codebase are physically inside Russia then they are indeed vulnerable to the whims of the FSB and Putin. And I read it also as a quite courageous assertion that black-box code should have no place in security applications. Who watches the watchmen? If it's unaudited code, the watchman can sell or barter info-scrapings, and no-one is likely to catch him.

Finally: yes, of course audits can be cheated, even if "certified" by external agencies. But it's risky. One slip, one bit of code not properly laundered, and someone yells foul. One disaffected employee, and a whistle gets blown. Much safer to take the Microsoft / Apple tack, and stamp it "Proprietary, no peeking".

So. Kudos to Yevgeny. It's a good business move. But also, it betokens a decent understanding of realpolitik, and perhaps more than a nod toward a philosophy of ethical security software.

IMHO, and caveats may apply.

How could the Facebook data slurping scandal get worse? Glad you asked

Palpy

On curves, and being behind them.

Those of us who worry about such things have watched malware sophistication keeping ahead of anti-malware measures for a long time now. The development curves pace each other, with the malware programmers just a bit ahead of the anti-malware programmers. (By evolutionary principles, of course: anti-malware, like the immune system, can so far not respond to a threat until it appears.)

Facebook, aka Zucklandia, is rather like a medieval duchy of inbred and diseased courtiers whose sole talent is exploiting the peasants. When a horde of rather savvy and innovative Mongols invades, they have neither the skills nor the weaponry to eradicate the invaders.

They've never done fark-awl about securing Zucklandia against exploitation, and now the shoes are well and firmly on the wrong feet. And, to switch back to the original metaphor, the curve is so far ahead of them they can't even see the rise. Couldn't happen to a more deserving enterprise, IMHO.

How many ways can a PDF mess up your PC? 47 in this Adobe update alone

Palpy

Mother of chickens.

I mean, I have always hated PDF and Acrobat with irrational rage, but 47 vulns?

And, of course, just today I had to open PDF documents (on my PC and without a condom!) and (attempt) to fill out one of them and submit it to HR. Oh please. I can only hope that the wretched thing gave the creator herpes. What is wrong with an HTML form? Oh, wait, that would take more than a point-and-click mentality to create, so of course they're having none of that!

Better to heave bloated PDF around until everyone on the network is used to opening them without qualm, and then deal with the security breaches as they happen.

Sorry. Always hated Portable Document Fuxery. Always will, and glad of a chance to go off half-crocked about it.

It's World (Terrible) Password (Advice) Day!

Palpy

Yes, well, if people use many different --

-- methods for passwords, then we are all more secure. Because if crims don't know which method is being used, we are all better off.

Anyway. I have a cloud account (not USA, not MS, not Google, Dropbox, et al) in which resides an encrypted password file and not much else. I can remember the username/password pair for the cloud account, and the encryption key for the file. I cannot, however, remember my (main personal) email password. Damned thing is too long and too random.

I just wiped and reinstalled the OS (Ubuntu Studio) on this old Thinkpad, and I'm traveling. Good thing I can remember just enough to get in to the cloud account, and copy-paste my other, weirdo passwords from the password keeper, eh? Especially for the sites which are established with fake identities and special-purpose email accounts. The details of which my aging brain cannot hold onto either. ("I grow old, I will wear my trousers rolled.")

Anyone's detailed advice about constructing passwords is almost always bad advice for anyone else. If I try to follow one of the methods which others find salubrious -- song lyrics mixed with Roman numerals, every letter corresponding to the Fibonacci sequence replaced with sequential digits of PI, or whatever -- OK, I'll just get confused and lose it all. Wake in a gutter in Sri Lanka with one kidney missing, probably.

Let's all arrive at decently secure but different methods of doing it. "That'll put a spoke in their wheel!"

Uber breaks self-driving car record: First robo-ride to kill a pedestrian

Palpy

Re: "Clever car?" and aircraft autopilot: and "makes cars safer"

Daniel, I suspect we agree very closely.

I do think there's a good chance that, as you write, software will -- eventually -- make cars as well as airplanes safer.

My only caveat is that, because street-level driving is so much more complex than aeronautical or nautical travel, street-level autopilot needs more proving-out.

I like automation. It rocks the industrial world I work in. But -- eh, well, you already know the but. Maturity. The algorithms must mature. In my rather humble opinion (IMRHO) auto-driving auto-mobiles have not matured yet.

Palpy

Re: "Clever car?" and aircraft autopilot

I understand your point, but I think there is a very large difference between aircraft autopilot and driving in traffic.

How often do you imagine an aircraft has to evade an object 10 meters ahead? In flight, how often is following distance to another aircraft less than 35 meters? How often does an aircraft need to merge into a stream of other aircraft, or avoid pedestrians? How often does the pilot need to negotiate a banking turn while maintaining +- 1 meter tolerances to avoid a fatal collision with oncoming aircraft?

For perspective, the FAA mandates 1000 vertical feet clearance between aircraft, or 3 miles horizontal clearance.

And how often is highway traffic controlled via radio instructions from a central traffic control tower?

My personal feeling is that driving a car is a very different kettle of eels from piloting an aircraft. (As per the Pythons, a hovercraft full of eels is another matter.)

I work with industrial automation. Millisecond control loops are common. Very fast responses. Very accurate control, in the right circs. (But watch the oscillation, mate, 'cos your actuators may not be that fast. Integrator windup.) However, the challenge lies in programming for those rare events, unexpected perturbations, and unanticipated failure conditions.

A container ship on the open sea may take 6 kilometers and 20 minutes to turn through 90 degrees, but the driver of a Honda Civic has no such latitude when the motorcycle in front of him skids out. (If a porpoise skids out in front of a container ship... well, sorry, Flipper.) An airliner traveling at 500 km/hr is in desperate peril if it comes within 50 meters of anything of substantial mass, but that's following distance on the motorway at 110 km/hr. In plain words, drivers of automobiles face much more tightly constrained and unpredictable conditions.

Again, my personal opinion, as a programmer of rather simpleminded and -- erm -- often inelegant industrial automation routines: programmers of self-driving automobiles face a challenge probably two orders of magnitude greater than programmers of aviation or nautical autopilot devices.

It needs a lot of proving. AI is nice too, but when human lives are at stake, it too needs a lot of proving.

Palpy

AI is not ready for the road, I think.

When driving, I periodically have to make decisions based on unexpected and unpredictable circumstances. Often these decisions must be made very quickly, and therefore the decision is made intuitively -- using a human brain with something over 40 years of accumulated on-road experience.

I'm not exceptional. Most of you commentards are equally skilled and safe on the road.

Obviously, when automation is handling controls, the human involved will allow his attention to relax. That's a major reason for automation of tasks: to remove the need for a human's continual, concentrated attention. Talking or texting on cell phones while driving is banned in some places for exactly that reason: it impacts driver concentration.

To me, the salient question is not whether the pedestrian or bicyclist was hard to see, or did something unpredictable, or disobeyed the rules of the road. To me, the question is whether a human driver with hands on the wheel, feet on the pedals, and eyes on the road would have saved a life.

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